Employing People with Disabilities Makes Sense

“In the United States, one of the greatest challenges experienced by individuals with disabilities is employment. Research indicates that employer attitudes contribute to this pervasive problem. Specifically, some employers have misperceptions about the abilities of individuals with disabilities and the costs associated with the provision of accommodations.”

This starts off the executive summary for Exploring the Bottom Line: A Study of the Costs and Benefits of Workers with Disabilities, a study on the costs and benefits of employing people with disabilities by DePaul University and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.

Right away it makes a statement that gets at what this issue is really about: misperceptions.

Misperceptions can be so insidious because, even though they really are beliefs that have been formed on faulty assumptions, they are touted as facts. But, by objectively looking at a different point of view, it may be discovered that there is validity to the opposing perspective.

Such is the case with employing people with disabilities.

Here are some of the important findings and anecdotes to come from this study:

  • To accommodate the needs of workers with disabilities, the cost was generally small. “One healthcare participant estimated company cost to be under $500.”
  • “…participants noted low absenteeism rates and long tenures. They also described their employees with disabilities as loyal, reliable, and hardworking.  An additional benefit to hiring people with disabilities was the diversification of work settings, which led to an overall positive work environment.”
  • Employees with disabilities performed their positions at about the same level as employees without disabilities.
  • The amount of supervision needed did not vary whether or not the employee had a disability.
  • In the retail field, all employees received accommodations to be able to carry out their job duties more effectively. It did not matter if they had a disability or not — everyone could receive an accommodation if necessary.

The conclusion of the study had this to say: “Overall, there appears to be a disconnect between the performance of workers with disabilities (as evident through the cost-benefit survey findings) and managers’ perceptions of this group.”

Walgreens is is one example of a company having much success with their practice of employing people with disabilities.

As this study shows, what is happening at Walgreens is not an anomaly. Employing individuals with disabilities makes good business sense.

One step at a time courtesy of Steve Punter

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