How To Benefit From Hiring An Employee With A Disability

By Doug McQuade, Assistant Executive Director of Employment Services

In honor of National Disability Employment Awareness month, The Arc Baltimore celebrated eight companies and two outstanding employees with intellectual and developmental disabilities at its Employers of Distinction reception last night. The honored companies have set an example for the entire business community by providing work opportunities for employees with disabilities and committing the time and resources needed to enable their success. This investment in employees who only want an opportunity to show their skills and work ethic is paying dividends multiple times over.

If you work for a company that would be receptive to employing a supported worker, then I would encourage you to read the following article and share it with those who make hiring decisions at your company. We need your help to open new doors to employment. The article first appeared in the Baltimore Business Journal and it details the many ways that a company would benefit from hiring an employee with a disability.

How to benefit from hiring an employee with a disability

Are you having difficulty finding skilled, hard-working and responsible employees for your business? We may have a solution.

The Arc Baltimore provides Supported Employment services to over 500 employees with intellectual and developmental disabilities at many businesses in the Greater Baltimore area – people with autism, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy or other such disabilities can be productive employees in your company. Many companies take advantage of our services and reap the benefits, including law firms, car dealerships, hospitals, restaurants, schools, manufacturers and retailers. Here are the benefits:

Job Development. A job developer meets with your company to determine your personnel needs and tailors our services accordingly. Then, they identify whose skills and preferences are a match to your vacant positions. The job developer works alongside the potential employee throughout the entire hiring process to ensure a smooth transition into employment.

Job Coaching. A job coach who is well acquainted with the employee works directly with them and familiarizes themselves with the job. They accompany the employee through orientation and provide one-on-one, on-the-job training and support until the person performs all the job tasks to the expectations of the employer. As the person increases their skills and reliably performs in their position, the job coach begins a fading process with occasional, as-needed drop-in visits. The job coach also builds relationships with direct-line supervisors and co-workers to ensure open lines of communication. If at any time there is a change in the job tasks or concerns, the job coach discreetly re-enters the work setting and begins the process again in the least disruptive way.

Diversity. By hiring employees with disabilities, your company is making a commitment to diversity. You provide an employee that is often overlooked with a potential life-long career that is both meaningful and rewarding. Your customers will acknowledge your commitment and feel better about patronizing your business.

Morale. As your current staff becomes familiar with the supported employee and values the work ethic and productivity they bring, a sense of pride and sharing develops among managers and workers alike.

Federal and State Tax Credits. Businesses who hire individuals with disabilities may be eligible for sizable federal and state tax credits. One in particular is the Work Opportunity Credit that provides eligible employers with a tax credit on the first $6,000 of first-year wages of a new employee with a disability.

Turnover Prevention. Businesses that have a high turnover rate for lower level positions can prevent the hassle of constant rehiring by taking advantage of The Arc’s services and hiring employees who are eager for the chance. Many supported employment situations last for decades in positions that otherwise experience considerable turnover.

Career Opportunity for Employee. “We define ourselves in large part by what we do in our work,” said Doug McQuade, associate executive director of employment services at The Arc Baltimore. “For some people with a disability, we defined them not by what they can do, but by what they cannot do. This is unfortunate, for these people are then deprived of an opportunity to enhance their self-image and feel as a valued member of our community.” It does not have to be this way. Your business can play a part in reversing this pattern by providing a career opportunity. You will see the change as the supported employee redefines themselves as someone who is a worker, as someone who earns a paycheck, and as someone who is respected and liked by their co-workers.

When your company needs to hire for a position, please keep in mind these benefits to hiring an employee with a disability. You will be very pleased with your decision and the employee will be grateful for the career opportunity.


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