There is a lot of talk about disabled people staying in their jobs longer, thereby increasing retention and saving money on recruitment costs and all the other costs associated with a high turnover of staff. It’s something I tell employers all the time. But where is the evidence? Why should you believe me?
Well, you don’t have to. There is much research which confirms this view. For example, “Decent work for persons with disabilities” (United Nations, 2007) found that disabled people on average have higher retention rates than non-disabled people. And, as added bonuses, also higher productivity rates and attendance records than their non-disabled colleagues. Oh, and improved workforce morale and increased customer goodwill. But those are for another blog.
A fact sheet from the above study cites the hardware store, B & Q, as finding better retention amongst disabled staff. Along with increased overall employee satisfaction and better productivity rates.
A book written as far back as 2002 (“Employers’ attitude toward persons with disabilities in the workforce: Myths or realities?”, Unger, D., 2002) stated that many companies reported that employees with disabilities consistently showed higher retention rates, reducing the high costs of high staff turnover.
A survey of employers carried out in 2005 (“New deal for disabled people: survey of employers”, DWP, 2005) found that those companies who had employed disabled people were far more positive about employing them than those that hadn’t. One of the benefits the former group cited (amongst many others) was increased retention rates. In fact this came in the top three benefits (the others being image of the organisation and staff relations and morale).
Use My Ability, a project funded by the National Teaching Fellowship Scheme (http://www.usemyability.org.uk/resources/Business-Case-for-Inclusion.html) states that research shows that disabled employees have “a greater tendency to stay with an organisation longer” (and are also highly committed and motivated, are punctual and have lower rates of absenteeism).
There is also, of course, the issue about retaining non-disabled staff who then acquire a disability (at least 70% of disabled people acquired their disability in working age, rather than being born disabled). Retaining those staff if possible, who will be experienced in the role, rather than losing them and having to recruit and train new people has to make sense. The RNIB published a report called “Vocational rehabilitation: The business case for retaining newly disabled staff” in which it revealed that keeping a newly disabled person in employment has a cost benefit of at least two-and-a-half times an employer’s investment.
So there you have it. You don’t have to take my word for it. There is plenty of evidence that, on average, disabled employees are a better bet when it comes to retention. And also that it makes sense to retain staff who acquire a disbility whilst working for you.
I’d love to hear from employers and what your experience is in this area. Does your experience match these studies?
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