The most common question I am asked when I meet with a prospective employer is, “Can you help me to better understand the benefits to my company?” This is a legitimate question because, as we know, one of the primary purposes of a business is to be profitable. If it doesn’t show a profit, everyone is impacted. So how can hiring people with disabilities enhance the business?
The first reason to hire them is that they are highly motivated individuals. Statistically, adults with disabilities are less likely to call in sick, file a workman’s compensation claim and quit their jobs. They have spent their adult life looking for ways to contribute to society in a meaningful way and value the opportunity. They show up on time and consistently for work. Some employers spend several thousand dollars and staff hours training new employees, only to have them quit shortly after the training period. People with disabilities are less likely to do this. It has typically taken them twice as long as the average person to get hired. They want to keep the job they worked so tirelessly to obtain.
Many employers have concerns about the cost of “reasonable accommodations”. Employers worry that this can become costly; however, the average cost of accommodation runs about $500. This leads to the second reason to strongly consider hiring this population. Many times, accommodations can also benefit other employees. For example, one employer decided to hire people with Autism. He consulted with experts to try and get his building ready. The consultants recommended installing signs with pictures and arrows as people with Autism tend to use visual cues to understand directions. It turns out, a large percentage of his employees didn’t read or speak fluent English. As a result, this also benefitted the other employees as they were able to better get around the building due to the signs that were put up in the facility.
There is a third, and practical, reason for hiring people with disabilities. The federal government has enacted the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC), where an employer may get up to $9,600 in tax credits for hiring someone with a disability. Businesses should seek out expert advice when availing of this incentive as some state laws may have limitations or different regulations. Refer to the Department of Labor website for more information on the WOTC.
Years ago, those with disabilities were placed in institutions or kept at home, away from the public eye. Nowadays, families refuse to hide or shelter their loved ones. They want to see them actively engaged in school, work, social situations, and more. When they walk into a store, they want to know that the places where they shop or conduct business with hold the same values. They are more likely to favor businesses where they see their home life reflected in the community. This could be a local big box store, restaurants, or any other place they frequent. Hiring adults with disabilities shows the company has a commitment to and cares about the community in which it operates.
Finally, adults with disabilities add diversity to one’s workforce in ways never before considered. When most people think of diversifying their workforce, they think of cultural differences. While people with disabilities also come from many cultures, they add another layer of diversity to your employee pool – one that can add so much more value to a company that cannot be measured in monetary terms.