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You're hiring workers for their abilities ... NOT despite their disabilities!
The Ability, and Reliability, of "Disabled" Workers

Case Studies Show Proven Benefits of Hiring Disabled Workers:

Illustration: This employee is determined to update her files and stay organized.In addition to complying with the law, businesses have discovered some hidden benefits of hiring people with disabilities.

"They [workers with disabilities] have the most amount of loyalty to company and, in turn, save a lot of money in turnover costs," according to Glen Hughes and Brian Kleiner, authors of the article "New Developments in Disability Discrimination," in Equal Opportunities International, a peer-reviewed scientific journal published since 1981.

"The loyalty comes from the fact that most of the disabled did not have the opportunity to work before, and they appreciate having the job, which, in turn, causes them to be extremely loyal," the authors write.

The case histories below show how both large and small companies have improved their efficiency — and their profits — by hiring disabled workers.

Case Study #1: Pizza Hut

Pizza Hut is one company that fully appreciates these benefits. Through their "Jobs PlusTM" program, the company employs 3,000 people with disabilities out of a total workforce of 68,000. They report that turnover among disabled employees is less than one-fifth that of their other employee groups. While the annual turnover rate among non-disabled employees is about 150%, the annual turnover rate for those in the Jobs PlusTM program is less than 20%.

Case Study #2: Marriott Corporation

The Marriott Corporation was active in hiring people with disabilities even before the ADA legislation was enacted into law. In 1989, Richard Marriott, then vice chairman of the corporation, founded the Marriott Foundation for People with Disabilities. One of their main programs is "Bridges from School to Work", an internship program for high school students with disabiities. The program is administered by local communities across the nation in collaboration with the Foundation, the school system, area businesses, students, and parents.

Case Study #3: Carolina Fine Snacks

Greensboro NC businessman Phil Kosak got remarkably positive results from hiring disabled workers at his snack food factory. Half the 20 workers at Carolina Fine Snacks have impairments ranging from vision and hearing loss to cerebral palsy and mental retardation.

Before the disabled workers came on board, Carolina Fine Snacks experienced an 80 percent turnover every six months. On any given day, one in five employees never made it to work, and their productivity was averaging only 50-60 percent of capacity.

After adding several disabled workers to his assembly line crew in 1988, employee "turnover dropped from 80 percent every six months to less than 5 percent," Kosak said. Additionally, productivity rose from 60% to 95% of capacity; their employee absenteeism rate dropped from 20% to less than 5%; and worker tardiness dropped from 30% to zero.

Bringing in the disabled workers turned things around completely for Kosak. "[The workers with disabilities] were just very interested in the company, its productivity, and what their job responsibilities were," Kosak points out. "Their positive attitude rubbed off on coworkers as well. Productivity increased to over 90 percent of capacity and turnover ceased to be a problem."

Reports of Kosak's success with hiring disabled employees have appeared in CBS News, Fortune, American Demographics, and Time Magazine.

Case Study #4: On a Roll Sandwich Shop

Antonio DeRosa's first thought when considering whether to hire a disabled employee was, "What's in it for me?" That was more than 15 years ago, and since hiring his first disabled worker, DeRosa's On A Roll sandwich shop in Media PA has employed a steady stream of people from a nearby center for youth with special needs.

DeRosa has noticed that other employees and even customers tend to have better attitudes when being served by one of his disabled employees. He also benefits personally. "It just pulls you into not only being a better person--that's a little cliché--but doing the right thing," he says. "And when you do the right thing, good things happen."

DeRosa, whose single store's 2007 sales were about $1 million, says the disabled workers have proven to be reliable, motivated and inspiring to everyone around them. "It makes my business so much better," he says.
[Reported in Entrepreneur Magazine, March 2008]

Reducing Employee Turnover Increases the Profitability of Your Business:

The eSight Career Network has a very helpful article about "The Antidote for High Turnover." Their article includes a calculator for figuring the costs of your employee turnover.

The ADA has specific rules concerning how employers should deal with job applicants with disabilities. The government requires that employers make accommodations for both current and prospective employees to perform the "essential functions" of the job. To do so, the employer is required to use an interactive process.

Defining the Job's Essential Functions:

Step one is to define the job. The Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC) is inclined to believe functions are "essential" if they are (1) mentioned in the job description when the job is first advertised and (2) reviewed when interviewing applicants.

Employers may compile such a list of the job's duties by asking current jobholders to evaluate their various duties based on how important each duty is in performing the job, and determining how frequently each of these duties is performed

Asking Key Questions Will Help to Identify the Job's Essential Details:

Another way to pinpoint a job's essential functions is to ask the following questions:

Would removing a particular function fundamentally affect the job?
Is performing this function the reason the job exists?
Can other employees perform this function instead?
Does the function require a special skill that a new employee is expected to have?
To quantify essential job functions, the employer might want to prepare a knowledge, skills, abilities and personal characteristics (KSAP) matrix. Once the matrix is created, each of the four functions should be rated on a one-to-10 basis in terms of importance, with one being unimportant and 10 being essential. Then rate each function as to how often it's performed, with zero meaning the duty is never performed and 10 meaning the duty is performed constantly.

The next step is a conversation or interview with the applicant where there will be a discussion as to how the person's disability will affect performance of these essential functions. Using the KSAP matrix can be particularly effective during the interview to keep the conversation focused on the essential skill sets.

Take Advantage of Business Tax Incentives for Hiring Employees with Disabilities:

Hiring disabled employees may qualify your business for additional tax benefits such as: Tax deductions for costs of removing barriers to the disabled and elderly; disabled access credit; and work opportunity tax credit. For more information on these tax benefits and to see if your business qualifies, see page 10 of IRS Publication 907. For additional information on hiring employees with disabilities, see "Hiring People With Disabilities" (DOL).

Assistance is also available from such sources as the ADA's Regional Disability and Business Technical Assistance Centers (DBTAC); the Job Accommodation Network; and the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) (formerly called the
President's Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities).

Some portions of this article were summarized in part from an article by James T. Berger, a Chicago-based freelance magazine writer and strategic marketing consultant; and from other sources referenced on this page. External links open in "new" windows.

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