I came across this video today and wanted to share it because it’s a topic that is close to our hearts at Workible – the employment and inclusion of disabled workers. It features business owner Mark Wafer and his top performing workforce — 1/3 of which has some kind of disability from autism to Down Syndrome.
Mark’s 18-year business case proves his disabled workers are far from “token hires”, they’re his best employees. Their efficiency, dedication and productivity has reduced his turnover rate, risen the bar for his entire workforce and boosted his bottom line. And, this is in a food retail franchise where high turnover and a low-performing workforce can mean the difference between success and failure.
At Workible, we work with job service agencies and other community partners to ensure that their candidates have an equal shot at the jobs that come through our system.
We’re also embarking on an awareness campaign to let more business owners know about the benefits of hiring disabled and other disadvantaged job seekers as well as the access to various subsidies that are available to help cover wages, training, and even modifications to workplaces and vehicles.
Particularly for small business owners, having access to these government incentives could mean the difference between working 70+ hour weeks or employing someone to help lighten the load. And not just anyone, someone who could very well surpass your highest expectations and help increase your profitability. Why wouldn’t you consider it?
It’s unfortunate that there are a lot of myths and misconceptions regarding the employment of disabled workers — many that stem from fear. The fear of the time involved in the management of people with a disability. The fear of “what if” – what if they say or do the wrong thing? But the principles of employment are the same for people with disability as those without disability. The primary focus should be on the skills, talents and capabilities the person can bring to the workplace – disabled or not.
According to the ABS, approximately 20% of the community has a disability (18.5% ABS 2009). And, with an ageing workforce where it’s estimated that 4 in 10 workers will be 45 by 2020, it’s important to remember that disability increases with age so this will have significant workplace implications.
Although there have been improvements in anti-discrimination legislation, people with disability are still less likely to be working than other Australians. The labour force participation rate for those aged 15-64 years with disability in 2009 was 54%, much lower than that for those without disability (83%).
But it shouldn’t take laws or, worse, pity to convince you that hiring disabled workers is good for your business, let the facts speak for themselves.
I really loved how Mark put it in the video above. He said, “We can’t make change with this (patting his heart)… by talking about the emotional. And we can’t make change with compliance and laws and legislation. We can make change with the business cases.”
If you have a story to share about how embracing disabled workers has impacted your business, we’d love to hear it!