Increasing Disability Employment in the Workplace


Why increase awareness about disability employment in the workplace? Besides the altruistic, “just because” answer; hiring disabled people makes practical business sense. Not only do employers gain dedicated and passionate employees, they often receive tax credits or breaks from the government, among other benefits. It is easier to hire people with disabilities than ever before, it’s often encouraged and sometimes required.

In March 2014, 4.67 million people with disabilities were participating in the U.S. labor force, only accounting for 20.6% of the working population. The statistics in recent years have improved, however only 16% of adults with a severe disability are employed, compared to the 63% employed without a disability.

What can you do to make the case for disability employment? The first step is to recognize the many benefits to hiring people with disabilities. Here are some considerations:


Compliance with disability legislation
According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, employers cannot discriminate in hiring or in employment. Any employer with 15 or more employees is required to provide reasonable accommodation for people with disabilities, unless doing so would cause undue hardship. A reasonable accommodation is any change in the work environment that enables a person with a disability to enjoy equal employment opportunities. Also, any business that employs over $100,000 in federal contractors has an “aspirational goal” set by the government: 7% of the workforce within your business should be people with disabilities.

Disability Tax credits
Hiring people with disabilities can provide many tax benefits to the business including: The Work Opportunity Tax Credit, Disabled Access Credit, Barrier Removal Tax Deduction and more. Businesses can receive sizeable credits or returns depending on the accommodations made for an employee.

Increase morale and positivity in your business
Many employers that have made hiring people with disabilities a priority mention how many of their employees enjoy having diversity in the office. Hiring someone with a disability will not only increase morale, it may provide a new perspective your business has never noticed before. By introducing disabled employees to the workplace, fresh ideas may transform current practices into innovated and forward moving company standards.

Maintain disabled employees in high-turnover positions
People with disabilities tend to stay in high-turnover positions longer than people without disabilities. According to a US Chamber of Commerce study, people with disabilities had an 80% lower turnover rate than those without. Increasing tenure within your business means less training, happy employees, satisfied customers and a long-term savings on administrative costs.

Gain dedicated and loyal brand fans
Here’s an interesting fact: disabled individuals along with their family and friends represent a trillion dollar market. Why not capitalize on this new market? Companies can gain a loyal and dedicated customer base by sharing the stories of disabled employees, with their permission, of course! It only makes sense to share an organization’s disability employment success to gain positive brand awareness.

On top of all these benefits to the business, disabled employees are truly happy to be employed. What is the first question you’re asked when you meet someone new? “What do you do for a living?” Sometimes that question is very difficult for people with disabilities. They are looking for a work identity, not a handout. They will contribute to your business culture in ways that you never imagined; you just have to open your eyes to the possibilities.