We have written about disability employment from the point of view of the disabled person, but as an employer, how do you feel when considering employing disabled people? We know you may have reservations, and here are some very common ones:
1. They are less productive than non-disabled people
There is a perception, sometimes reinforced by politicians and some of the media that disabled people are workshy, lazy and would prefer to live on benefits than work. A 2012 study interviewing disabled people (Opening Up Work: The views of disabled people and people with long-term health conditions. Adams, L. and Oldfield, K. Equality and Human Rights Commission, 2012) stated that: “All participants in the research wanted to work and emphasised the importance of work to them and that “many disabled people feel that they need to work harder and perform better to prove themselves in their job role”, hence why productivity levels can often be higher from disabled employees (albeit for the wrong reasons). So I’m afraid this one just isn’t true!
2. They are more likely to leave.
Many organisations struggle with high staff turnover. This is expensive in many ways – the cost of constantly recruiting and training new staff, the gaps when a vacancy is being filled, the lack of continuity. Wouldn’t disabled people with their difficulties be more likely to be forced to give up work? Actually, there is much research suggesting that disabled employees have a greater tendency to stay with an organisation longer (The Business Case of an Inclusive Workforce. The Higher Education Academy (http://www.usemyability.org.uk/resources/Business-Case-for-Inclusion.html), echoed here – “Participants with disabilities from the retail and hospitality sectors stayed on the job longer than participants without disabilities.” In a US study in 2002 companies reported that employees with disabilities have better retention rates, reducing the high cost of turnover (Unger, D. Employer’s attitude toward persons with disabilities in the Workforce: myths or realities, Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, 2002). So in fact the opposite has been found!
3. They take more sick leave
People taking sick days can be incredibly expensive for businesses; surely a disabled person will need more time off when they’re not feeling well?
Many independent and unrelated studies agree that on average disabled employees have lower sickness absence rates than non-disabled employees. Here are some examples: Retail participants with disabilities had fewer days of unscheduled absences than those without disabilities. (Exploring the Bottom Line: A Study of the Costs and Benefits of Workers with Disabilities. Economic Impact Study, 2007). In Australia it was found that an astounding 86 % of employees with disabilities had an above average attendance rate (Hall, H. (2002) cited by EEO Trust, Employing Disabled People, 2005). A United Nations report found that “Empirical evidence shows that persons with disabilities have high performance ratings and retention rates, as well as better attendance records than their colleagues without disabilities” (Decent Work for Persons with Disabilities. United Nations, 2007). So I’m afraid this reason doesn’t add up either!
4. It won’t do our image any good!
Surely you shouldn’t have disabled people in customer facing positions? We want shiny perfect people to match our shiny perfect image don’t we? Wrong again!
“Developing an ethical corporate image can be fundamental to business success in a consumer market driven by brand image. A business with a reputation for being socially responsible can gain a significant competitive advantage in the market place and also enhance its staff morale. Embracing diversity is a major facet of corporate responsibility, so the ability to accommodate the needs of disabled staff and consumers is an essential process in building a positive image. Instances of bad disability practices or discrimination can cause substantial damage to an organisation’s reputation.” (The Business Case of an Inclusive Workforce. The Higher Education Academy (http://www.usemyability.org.uk/resources/Business-Case-for-Inclusion.html)
5. We won’t find disabled people with the skills we need
Think there aren’t that many disabled people to choose from? Don’t believe it’s worth focussing your attention on recruiting them? Well, overall one in every five people in the UK has an impairment, with around 15% of people of working age being disabled (Disability 2012 Facts and Figures Scope http://www.scope.org.uk/sites/default/files/Scope-disability-stats-2012.pdf). What’s more, “Organisations with the ability to accommodate the needs of disabled staff are able to access a wider pool of applicants from which to recruit. This is particularly important for highly skilled/knowledge driven roles where there may be a shortage of labour supply.” (The Business Case of an Inclusive Workforce. The Higher Education Academy (http://www.usemyability.org.uk/resources/Business-Case-for-Inclusion.html)
So in fact you will find more talent, not less!
There are actually more advantages than disadvantages to hiring disabled people, and we can prove it to you. Call us now on 0845 658 5717 or visit www.evenbreak.co.uk
Jane Hurst, Publicity Manager, Evenbreak
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