October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month so I would be remiss if I didn’t include an article on it, especially since I, myself, am a person with a disability. People with disabilities can be nervous when seeking employment. If the disability is obvious, they wonder if the employer can see passed it enough to be willing to hire them. They wonder if the employer will make the necessary accommodations that may be needed. They wonder if they themselves can be successful, and if they’ll have the chance be promoted and given opportunities. In other words, be treated like their follow co-workers. For those whose disability isn’t obvious, like mine, we hesitate to speak up for needed accommodations for fear we’ll be treated differently or worse placed out of the running for opportunities, which may cause us to struggle in silence.
Employers are often equally as nervous to hire people with disabilities. They are concerned that the employee won’t be able to maintain productivity, may have excessive absenteeism, or won’t be a lasting employee. So let’s spend the rest of this article dispelling a few myths and talk about the benefits of hiring people with disabilities.
Let’s start with employee retention. We all know the cost of recruiting and training is high which is why we’re all so careful in our hiring process to select the right person(s) for the job. Multiple studies have shown that people with disabilities stay longer at a job than people without disabilities. Studies also report less absenteeism among those with disabilities. Therefore, people with disabilities are loyal and dependable employees, more so than their non-disabled counterparts.
Speaking of high costs, we also know the expense of a workplace accident. Rather than being more accident prone, people with disabilities have been proven to have significantly less workplace accidents in all sorts of jobs. Hiring someone with a disability will be hiring someone who is far more safety conscious than your average employee. Hiring people with disabilities will also not increase your worker’s comp insurance since the insurance is based on the hazards of the workplace and the organization’s accident history, not the abilities of your staff.
As long as we are on the theme of money…employers can get tax incentives and credits for hiring people with disabilities. These credits can include assisting with any possible expense for accommodations to the simple fact that you hired someone with a disability. For more information about the tax credits and eligibility, check in with the IRS.
If one of your company goals is to increase diversity, a surefire way is to hire a worker with a disability. These workers will also have a lot to teach their non-disabled co-workers. They may be able to come up with some creative problem-solving solutions to different tasks that their co-workers may not think of simply because people with disabilities have to be problem solvers in daily life.
Lastly, let’s address the issue of productivity. The fact of the matter is that people with disabilities are just as capable as anyone else. There are many adaptive techniques and devices that allow people with disabilities to work. Not only that, but like everyone else, people with disabilities tend to apply for jobs they know they can do and are qualified for and likely have a solution to any issue an employer can think of.
By hiring someone with a disability, you are hiring a solid employee. With high unemployment rates among those with disabilities (due to employer hesitancy to hire), they are excited and eager to work. With a tight labor market, here is a nearly untapped pool of resources that will likely give you a great return on investment. Take a chance, and you may just end up with the best employee you’ve ever had.
Can you think of another benefit to hiring people with disabilities? Let us know in the comments!