Commercial Benefits of Employing Disabled People
It’s a cliché, but still true that for most businesses their people are not only their most important asset, but also their most expensive. Recruiting and retaining the best people who are equipped with the right skills needed to do the job can take up much time in an employer’s life. As 20% of the working population are disabled, and eight out of 10 disabled people acquired their disability during the course of their working life, the chances are that disability is an issue that you will come across in your company.
In business, as in society, there are many misconceptions about disabled people. As employers we are all concerned about saving money, and employing disabled people can feel like an expensive luxury. However, the reality is somewhat different, and interestingly, company surveys consistently conclude that organisations who have successfully employed disabled people are keen to employ more.
Let’s look at the commercial side. There are more than 13 million disabled people in the UK with spending power of over £250 billion a year. Employing disabled people, understanding disability and generally having a proactive attitude towards disabled customers could be hugely rewarding to your organisation’s bottom line.
Also, it is much, cheaper to retain a staff member who has become disabled than try to recruit someone new. The Post Office estimates that medically retiring an employee can cost around £80,000.
From purely a recruitment point of view, if you positively seek to attract applications from disabled people you will have a much wider choice of potential employees with a good range of skills and a positive attitude towards work. Many studies (sources available on request) show that on average disabled employees are just as productive as their non-disabled colleagues (sometimes more so), have less time off sick, fewer workplace accidents and stay with their employers longer, increasing retention and saving money on recruiting and training new staff. Showing a positive approach towards disability also greatly enhances your reputation as an inclusive employer of choice.
So all in all, employing disabled staff is a good commercial decision. However, disabled people are still twice as likely to be unemployed than non-disabled people. Shockingly, some employers think that disabled people have nothing to offer – perhaps they should try telling that to Stephen Hawking, Albert Einstein, Alexander Graham Bell, Winston Churchill and Richard Branson.