Have You Been Bypassing an Employee Goldmine?

WheelchairRecent studies suggest that a large, untapped source of impressive prospects exists, and has surprisingly gone largely untapped. Continue reading to discover what you may have overlooked.

According to the Disability Funders Network, disabled individuals comprise the most substantial minority category in the United States, encompassing roughly one in five Americans. This demographic sector suffers from unemployment at a rate nearly 10 times larger than that experienced by the population as a whole. Discriminatory practices are certainly frowned upon by most Americans, though the sheer number of disabled individuals who remain unemployed seems to suggest that they have not entirely disappeared.

Fortunately, plentiful resources aimed at facilitating greater workforce diversification are available. From the first days of our corporate existence, we have grasped the boundless potential represented by employees with disabilities, and have committed ourselves to creating a workplace that is welcoming to every person in our employ. Key recommendations from our experience include:

1. Expand your understanding of ability.
While many people consider disabilities to involve conditions such as blindness, deafness or immobility, the term is equally applicable to those with less visible conditions including diabetes, depressive disorder and epilepsy, to name a few. Knowing that some employers may be intimidated by the prospect of reviewing and complying with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), various governmental agencies have created educational tools meant to provide clear information regarding the types of individuals covered by the Act, recommended employer policies and suggestions regarding the reasonable accommodations necessary for disabled employees. It is a common misconception that the ADA is applicable solely to large corporate entities. In fact, the Act applies to any private business or governmental unit employing at least 15 workers.

2. Take advantage of every resource.
The purpose of the ADA is not to compel employers to select underqualified individuals for positions simply because they have a disability, or to adapt job descriptions to suit disabled workers. Rather, it is intended to assist employers in adjusting their workplaces and job opportunities in order to afford disabled individuals the opportunity to win positions for which they do possess the necessary qualifications. Even so, many employers lack an understanding of the process, and therefore it makes sense for them to thoroughly familiarize themselves with the abundant resources that are available for connecting employers with disabled individuals looking for work. Information regarding tax incentives for employers hiring disabled workers and tips on how to enhance accessibility are also readily available.

3. Know the dollars and cents involved.
The Employer Assistance and Resource Network (EARN) asserts that businesses can realize tremendous financial advantages by hiring disabled individuals. In addition, the National Association of Social Workers emphasizes the notion that those with disabilities tend to be extraordinarily dedicated, loyal and enthusiastic employees. In comparison to non-disabled colleagues, this group of workers tends to earn consistently impressive reviews and experiences lower attrition.

Regrettably, it is often believed that providing reasonable accommodations as required by the ADA is cost-prohibitive. But, the Job Accommodation Network (JAN) reports that over 50 percent of such adjustments come in under $500 in total, and many others do not cost anything at all. The JAN studies also indicate the considerable frequency with which employers achieve lower insurance and training expenses at the same time they experience substantial productivity increases. Even if your competitors choose to remain in the dark, you have the ability to access a pool of stellar employees who might otherwise have flown under the radar. No matter the initial impetus, whenever an employer can invest just a small amount of money and still generate substantial returns, they have shown true business acumen.