Entrepreneurs often struggle with finding the right talent for their business. In many cases, a disabled person could fill the position they are struggling to hire for. The latest Census numbers report that 10 percent of working age people in the United States are disabled. This represents not only the largest minority population in the United States, but a pool of valuable workers that has been largely untapped by small business.
Entrepreneurs should be aware of the benefits of hiring disabled workers, including significant tax credits that can help with any environmental changes necessary to accommodate the workers. In addition, the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC), provides tax credits for employers that hire workers from targeted groups, including those that are considered physically or developmentally disabled.
More and more employers are tapping into this pool of workers for reasons far beyond financial incentives. For example, all businesses have positions that can be tough to hire for, hard to keep employees happy in, or both. Think of your last receptionist. If he was good, he likely got promoted quickly.
Most employers report that disabled workers exhibit a higher than average degree of loyalty to their job and their company. In many cases because of a difficult job market disabled workers are thrilled to be hired for work that others may see as merely a stepping stone in their career. They may be disabled in one sense, but these workers have an attitude and dedication that is a huge benefit to an existing company team.
While support programs for employing disabled workers have been around for a long time, the traditional model for disabled workers has been to segregate them from the rest of the workforce, under the management of a service organization. Another long-standing model involves service organizations that manage a team of disabled workers working together, perhaps to clean a facility after hours.
These programs have worked to a degree, but a new wave of programs in the U.S. is focusing on placing disabled workers right alongside other workers. And the results have been phenomenal, particularly in the state of Washington, where this type of integration for disabled workers in now standard. Washington and Minnesota are only two states where companies are beginning to provide assistance matching the right worker to the right job, not unlike a search firm. These same agencies help manage the employee’s integration into the workforce, and act as coaches and mentors during their entire employment. This kind of outside support in invaluable for any worker, and for a disabled worker, in most cases is part of the placement program at no additional cost to the business owner.
There are a few things for the business owner or manager to keep in mind when hiring someone with disabilities.
What type of work do you have to offer? Many workers with disabilities are well suited to the type of tasks that other employees don’t have the time for. If you have one or two positions where you typically experience a high turnover rate, those are excellent jobs to consider. Some workers have physical disabilities, while others may have a developmental disability. This will also help determine the types of jobs that are most appropriate and how they will integrate into the workforce.
It’s not necessary to create any fanfare. The more you treat your new employee like any other worker on your team, the better. Most agencies will help with the transition into the workplace for the new employee and your existing team. Employers have generally found that diversity in the workplace builds a more dynamic, stronger team. And the benefits from having these dedicated and loyal workers integrated into your staff will definitely outweigh any obstacles you might initially encounter.
As a small-business owner, finding experienced workers whose salary expectations fit budget constraints. Disabled workers are an important segment of the workforce to consider because they are loyal, and contribute to a diverse workplace and a socially responsible company culture. Not only are you finding new talent to help you grow your business, you are tapping into a huge, talented workforce that has been historically underutilized.
Passionate about making a difference in the lives of others, Nicolas Thomley founded Pinnacle Services in 1999 at the age of 19 to provide housing services to people with developmental disabilities. As the company has grown Nicolas has broadened the scope of serving people with disabilities to include people with serious and persistent mental illness, traumatic brain injuries, people with chronic illnesses and seniors.
The Young Entrepreneur Council (Y.E.C.) provides its members with access to tools, mentoring, community and educational resources that support each stage of their business’s development and growth. Our organization promotes entrepreneurship as a solution to youth unemployment and underemployment.