Finding a job that pays well, properly uses an employee’s skills and talents, and offers opportunities for advancement can be a significant challenge. But that challenge increases tenfold when the person searching has a disability. Unfortunately, many businesses overlook the many benefits to hiring employees with disabilities, and in doing so they’re missing out on dedicated employees who can help to reduce recruiting costs, increase productivity, and make valuable contributions to the business.
The Benefits of Hiring People With Disabilities
Businesses can benefit in many ways when they decide to hire employees with disabilities. Multiple studies have found that people with disabilities are more likely to stay at their jobs longer, amounting to a better employee retention rate. They also take fewer absent days than able-bodied workers. Studies have revealed that employees with disabilities have higher safety performances at work and are less likely to get into accidents while on the job than able-bodied employees.
Employees with disabilities can contribute to a more diverse workplace, benefiting employees both with and without disabilities. Employees without disabilities can develop an increased awareness of some of the challenges that people with disabilities face. A business can learn about modifications, inclusion, and accommodations from its staff with disabilities. Often, employees with disabilities can introduce new ways of accomplishing tasks and demonstrate creativity to all of the employees in the workplace.
What's more, companies who employ people with disabilities may be eligible to receive tax credits. The IRS offers several tax credits, including the Disabled Access Credit and the Barrier Removal Tax Deduction, which recognize the expenses that businesses may face when making accommodations for employees with disabilities. The Work Opportunity Tax Credit is an incentive credit that encourages employers to hire employees from groups of people (including people with disabilities) who face barriers to employment.
Making Workplaces Accessible to People with Disabilities
There are many ways a business can increase workplace accessibility for employees with disabilities. Employees who use wheelchairs or canes should be able to navigate through all of the doorways in a business, and stairs will need to be paired with ramps or elevators. The height of counters, sinks, and desks may need to be adjusted to be accessible by all employees. Businesses should also assess their current job training practices to make sure that they are inclusive of employees with disabilities.
Businesses can put advancements in robotic technology to work to make their facilities and jobs more accessible. For example, the development of a robotic arm called the Bestic helps people with physical disabilities to eat and can be adapted to be operated by buttons, foot controls, or a joystick, depending on the individual user’s needs. Similar technology could be used in the workplace to help employees with disabilities perform physical functions that would otherwise be difficult.
It’s also important for businesses to assess their digital tools and websites for overall accessibility. Even if employees with disabilities will be working from home, companies can modify websites and programs accessible to people with disabilities. These modifications, such as using colors that are easy to read, including subtitles in videos, making website copy simple, and including an accessibility guide on the website won’t only help employees, but can also help potential customers with disabilities who access the website.
Why Hiring People With Disabilities Is So Important
People with disabilities face unique challenges in finding reliable employment. Blanket job descriptions that include inaccurate physical requirements for a particular position can discourage people from applying or make them think that they can’t perform the required job tasks. Stigma against disabilities can make it difficult for people with disabilities to get hired, and many of the opportunities that are available to people with disabilities are entry-level positions with little opportunity for advancement. Even on the job, people with disabilities can encounter accessibility issues.
For instance, spinal cord injuries can cause many symptoms, including anxiety and depression, abnormal temperature control, and even paralysis. Employment opportunities for someone who has suffered a spinal cord injury can be few and far between, and these jobs may not utilize the injured person’s skills. But as a society, we can work to change that.
Business owners who wish to hire employees with disabilities have many resources available right within their local communities. Local community organizations dedicated to helping people with disabilities can connect employers with potential employees. The U.S. Department of Labor also offers a wealth of resources and initiatives that connect employers with job candidates, provide advice on accessibility, and help to guide employers through the hiring process.
Employment opportunities for people with disabilities are increasing. CBS recently pledged to make its casting more inclusive, and companies such as IBM Corporation, Procter & Gamble, Aetna, and SC Johnson are known for their dedication to hiring and supporting people with disabilities. As more businesses realize the benefits and importance of hiring people with disabilities, more and better job opportunities should emerge in the future.
Image credit: https://pixabay.com/photos/wheelchair-disability-injured-749985/