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Employer Opportunities and Benefits of Hiring Persons with Disabilities

January 19, 2016

“I want to go back to work.” It’s a phrase Craig Hospital’s Community Reintegration Team hears often. It’s not something that is feasible for all, but for those who can make it work, there are many benefits.

“We work with people on a daily basis who are focused on reentering the workplace. It is not easy, but it can be very fulfilling for someone who has recently gone through one of the most difficult experiences in their life,” said Tiffany Heck, Supervisor of Craig Hospital’s Community Reintegration Team.

Community Reintegration at Craig Hospital helps patients who have recently sustained a spinal cord injury or brain injury, return to home, work, and school. Tiffany Heck says employers have a major opportunity to help someone who has sustained a catastrophic injury go back to work.

“Creating a workplace that promotes diversity in its employees, including those with disabilities, can not only enhance an individual’s life, but also the lives of everyone who works there,” said Heck.

Some employers may have concerns about cost or productivity when it comes to considering hiring someone with a disability.

“It’s a community effort,” said Kelly Lombardi, Community Reintegration Specialist at Craig Hospital, “One of the things we often talk to employers about, is the benefit of hiring back a former employee, and just what it means to that employee.”

But it can also have a positive impact on the organization.

In 2007, Walgreens created a unique employment program to seek out and hire employees with disabilities. In 2011, more than 40% of its workforce at its distribution center in Anderson, SC, was made of those with disabilities. In an article in DC Velocity, Randy Lewis, senior vice president of distribution and logistics for Walgreens was quoted as saying, “We found that the (people with disabilities) disabled cost less, and have lower turnover and absenteeism" than other workers.” Lewis also went on to say the impact on those without disabilities was astounding.

Larry Miller Nissan, in Highlands Ranch, CO, noted similar positive impacts of rehiring employee Brian Nordstrom, after Brian sustained a traumatic brain injury in a car accident.

“What it does for your employees and the morale in your store can far out weigh any salary or compensation you can give to employees. It creates loyalty and creates and atmosphere of love and happiness and smiles,” said Matt Carpenter, the service director for Larry H. Miller Nissan.

“With that a good employer should see when your employees are happy, your customers see that and want to come back and visit and it would absolutely be great business decision.”

Employment & Training Resources, a web resource created by Partnerships for a Skilled Workforce, Inc. of Massachusetts, lists a number of benefits employers may experience when hiring someone with a disability.

Benefits to Employers in hiring someone with a disability

  1. Having a diverse workforce should include individuals with different abilities. By opening up the search for employees to those with disabilities you are gaining access to an increased pool of qualified individuals to choose from
  2. Hiring people with disabilities can promote positive morale amongst employees as well as customers
  3. The general cost of accommodations when hiring someone with a disability can be inexpensive. On the average it is less than $500.
  4. There is a tax credit for employers hiring people with disabilities (WOTC)

Helpful links for employers when hiring someone with a disability
Provided by Craig Hospital's Community Reintegration Team

Refer a patient

Creating a workplace that promotes diversity in its employees, including those with disabilities, can not only enhance an individual’s life, but also the lives of everyone who works there.

Tiffany Heck, Supervisor of Craig Hospital’s Community Reintegration Team