Differently-Abled Employees Have Much to Offer Your Business

Picture of Gina Blitstein Gina Blitstein combines her insight as a fellow small business owner with her strong communication skills, exploring topics that enhance your business efforts. That first-hand knowledge, matched with an insatiable curiosity to know more about just about anything, makes her a well-rounded writer with a sincere desire to engage and inform.

Differently-Abled Employees Have Much to Offer Your Business

Finding employees as a small business can be challenging! You compete in the same job market as the bigger fish, and may have fewer benefits to offer to attract talented, highly-skilled job seekers. But what if I made you aware of a huge, often-overlooked population of ready and willing employees? The disabled. To be more accurate, I’m referring to the differently-abled. In the differently-abled, you have people who are eager to work, despite a physical or mental challenge. This challenge “disables” only a certain area of their functioning. Other than that area, a disabled worker can be as effective and valuable as any other employee. Too often, disabled workers are passed over when jobs are offered, being mislabeled as “damaged goods” by employers. Knowing the fallacy of that mislabeling can provide you access to a bursting orchard of capable employees, ripe for the picking.

Why hire the differently-abled?

In addition to putting qualified employees to work, hiring differently-abled individuals can benefit your business in these ways:

  • Financial incentives - Financial incentives in the form of tax credits are available to employers willing to hire the differently-abled which according to irs.gov include: #1 The Disabled Access Credit, which “provides a non-refundable credit for small businesses that incur expenditures for the purpose of providing access to persons with disabilities.” #2 The Work Opportunity Tax Credit, which “provides employers incentives to hire qualified individuals from target groups who have consistently faced significant barriers to employment.” and #3 Architectural Barrier Removal Tax Deduction which “encourages businesses of any size to remove architectural and transportation barriers to the mobility of persons with disabilities and the elderly.”
  • Creation of a more diverse, inclusive workplace - The healthiest, most robust workplaces are those which take advantage of a wide “gene pool” of employees. Differently-abled people have a great deal to offer to your staff and can contribute a unique perspective on the honor of having meaningful work to do. A workplace that employs those with disabilities more accurately reflects society in general, making it a more well-rounded environment in which to work.
  • Garnering of community/industry goodwill - When your organization employs differently-abled workers, it will be viewed from within and without as a compassionate company. When customers are choosing business, a company with a high degree of human-centric practices is particularly appealing. HIring disabled workers helps distinguish yours as a business dedicated to integrity and doing good for people and the community.
  • A reputation for adherence to hiring laws, whether they pertain to your company or not - Companies with more than 15 employees must comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, which, according to adata.org “...prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation, and all public and private places that are open to the general public. The purpose of the law is to make sure that people with disabilities have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else.” By hiring the disabled, even when you’re business is smaller than those required to comply by the ADA, you demonstrate a respect for the spirit of the law and those it protects from discrimination.
  • Things of which to be aware when hiring differently-abled workers

It’s a sad but true fact that some people tend to have low opinions of those with disabilities, thinking that they don’t make reliable, effective employees, or that they’re less skilled or lack intelligence. It is extremely important to make it clear to your workers that a disabled person is every bit their equal and should receive the same respect and consideration as any other employee. It may be helpful to have the employee herself explain her disability to coworkers so everyone will be aware of what her limitations may or may not be.

Where to find differently-abled workers

The key to locating qualified disabled hirees is to look where they are. Most likely they won’t be found in the usual places like job sites and general employment agencies. The Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion (EARN) says, “Many employers tell us that one of the greatest barriers they face in hiring people with disabilities, including veterans with disabilities, is that they have trouble finding qualified candidates. That’s where effective outreach and recruitment strategies come in.” EARN provides a list of reputable, pertinent sources to connect you to differently-abled individuals who are qualified and looking for gainful, meaningful employment.

If you are interested in learning more about advocacy for and the training and hiring of the disabled, visit APSE - Association of People Supporting Employment First. They are the only national organization to focus exclusively on inclusive employment and career advancement opportunities for individuals with disabilities.

The differently-abled want to be included and to work alongside their fellow human beings with dignity and purpose. They bring determination and a strong desire to succeed to the job. Hiring them will add, rather than detract, from the quality of your staff.

How could you put a differently-abled person to work in your business?

Read other Gina articles