Disabilities come in all different forms, from neurodiversity to mobility issues to vision and hearing challenges to mental health, even allergies.
There are nearly 40 million Americans, or almost 13 percent of the American population, with a disability in 2015. This is a large pool of workers, especially in a tight labor market.
Disabled people are likely to earn less than able-bodied employees, according to data from the United States Census. A non-disabled employee earned an average of $35,070 in 2017. This is roughly $12,000 more than a disabled employee is likely to make. The average wage for a disabled employee is $23,006.
As a Professional Employer Organization (PEO), we want to take some of the myths that you may have heard about working with a differently abled workforce and turn them on their head so you can see that these individuals NOT be a detriment to your business, but in fact that they will be a valuable asset and help it to grow.
They Aren’t Intelligent
Nothing could be farther from the truth. In some cases, individuals some disabilities, like neuro disabilities such as ADHD or autism, just think differently and should actually be considered specialist thinkers as they are capable of excelling at certain types of tasks. People on the autism spectrum oftentimes excel at concentration, fine-detail processing and memory, while those with ADHD can bring a creative spark to the table and those with dyslexia are excellent visual thinkers, says expert Mary Colley, founder of the UK Developmental Adult Neurodiversity Association. Those with physical disabilities have compensated and adapted elsewhere.
They Won’t Fit In
Well, not with that attitude they won’t! When everyone in a business is homogenous – in demographics, education, background or other metrics – it’s easy to get carried away in the groupthink. The worst part? When everyone thinks the same way, it’s often a recipe for business to stall because it’s hard to come up with new – let alone innovative – ideas. Just as adding someone with a diverse racial, ethnic or cultural background can bring new opinions and outlooks to a company, so too can adding a person with a disability. Their ability to fit in really is dictated by your attitude – if you’re open and willing to learn from those whose perception of the world differs from that of your own, you will certainly reap the profits.
They Won’t Be Successful
In making this assertion, you’re suggesting that a disabled person is somehow “less than” and therefore inherently destined to fail in the role due to their disability. Again, provided you have done your due diligence in hiring this individual and that their disability is compatible with tasks associated with their specific job role, there is no reason to believe that they couldn’t be successful in the role. Further, holding someone back because you perceive that their disability would preclude them from performing well constitutes discrimination.
We Won’t Be Able To Train Them
Results of a study published in Equality, Diversity and Inclusion: An International Journal acknowledges that it isn’t a matter of how much training is provided, but rather what modality of training will be most effective to the individual based on their unique personality and disability. Each employee is different in the level of social support they need in order to reach high levels of job performance and instead of a one-size-fits-all-approach, companies should take individuality and different styles of learning into account and offer appropriate support to maximize the potential of each employee.
We Can’t Accommodate Them In The Office
When you consider onboarding a client with disabilities, it is easy to assume that you’ll have to make whatever changes to your businesses physical environment in order to allow them to join. However, most workers with disabilities require no special accommodations, and even for those that do, the cost is generally far lower than most employers anticipate, according to the Michigan Community Service Commission. Citing studies by the President’s Committee’s Job Accommodation Network, they note that more than 65 percent of accommodations cost between $0 and $500 dollars, 12 percent cost up to $1,000 and 22 percent cost more than $1,000. When you consider how much you invest in your other workers, would it really be so taxing to accommodate a modification here or there to score a top-tier worker?
Not sure where to even start? The Job Accommodation Network (JAN) provides free, expert advice on workplace accommodations that may be necessary to assist qualified individuals with disabilities apply for a job and maximize their productivity once onboard. Further, the HR experts at a PEO are happy to come out and perform an audit of your businesses physical environment and propose solutions to help every employee best perform their job.
They’ll Cost Us So Much Money
It doesn’t cost that much to retrofit your office as needed to accommodate individuals with physical disabilities and we’ve now confirmed that they are as effective – if not more effective – than their normally abled peers. In short, adding disabled individuals to your ranks will not cost you very much AND it might even net you money. You see, the US Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy offers all kinds of grants and funding opportunities designed to expand opportunities for disabled workers more broadly, while EARN offers to fund to individual companies.
Lending support to your efforts to add disabled workers to your ranks, the Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion (EARN) helps educate employers about effective strategies for recruiting, hiring, retaining and advancing people with disabilities – and all at no cost to businesses.
If you need additional support in the recruitment and hiring of any employee, a PEO is a resource that can help with the entire process from shaping your help wanted ads to best appeal to folks with disabilities to helping you augment your training protocols to best meet the needs of a workforce with more diverse learning needs, you can rest assured that their HR pros be with you every step of the way.