Businesses should consider benefits of hiring disabled

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 19 August, 2017, 9:02am
UPDATED : Saturday, 19 August, 2017, 7:57pm

There has been discussion recently in these columns on improving the employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

Usually, ignorance is a major obstacle that prevents the disabled from entering the labour market and having a normal life. Sometimes, the lack of reliable information generates myths, fear and prejudice.

In fact, there are many benefits for a company if it hires workers with disabilities: they make good, dependable employees; they help to increase workforce morale; they are an untapped source of skills and talents, and consumers are likely to look favourably upon businesses that employ them, even considering switching brands on this basis.

Sometimes, a company which wants to remain competitive may not want to take a chance on hiring a disabled worker if there is the slightest possibility he or she may not stay in the position. However, many of the fears that business owners have are unfounded.

There is a common misconception that disabled workers have a weaker constitution and thus are more susceptible to becoming ill. Unless the disabled worker has an immune deficiency, they are no more susceptible to becoming ill than any able-bodied worker.

They can be counted on to show up for work on time and perform their jobs just like anyone else.

According to the Journal of Rehabilitation, a study of 13 companies comparing cost-benefit trends in the United States showed workers with disabilities had 1.24 fewer scheduled absences and 1.13 more unscheduled absences than able-bodied colleagues.

Other benefits of hiring disabled people include long tenures. Disabled workers are also often more loyal, reliable and hardworking. And the cost of accommodating such workers with new technologies and education is minimal.

Finally, an additional benefit to hiring people with disabilities was the diversification of work settings, which led to an overall positive work environment.

Eunice Li Dan-yue, Shanghai