Debunking The Myths
Hiring and retaining employees with disabilities is good for business. It makes companies better – better competitors, better corporate citizens and better at capitalizing on new opportunities. Yet, despite all the good news, people with disabilities are still an under-employed and under-valued segment of our population.
Why is that? Well, it may have to do with the myths and misconceptions associated with hiring people with disabilities. Many employers have not worked with or are not aware that they have worked with people with disabilities. If you’ve never met, hired or worked with someone with a disability, you may be uncertain about their effectiveness as employees. As a result, you may tend to overlook the diverse range of skills and expertise available in this accomplished group of potential employees.
To help you make more informed decisions about recruiting and retaining employees with disabilities, it’s important to identify and respond to some of the most common workplace myths.
MYTH: Typical jobs that are available are not suitable for people with disabilities.
FACT: With the right accommodations, people with disabilities can handle most job duties. They are employed in businesses across the country – from large to small – in every industry sector. People with disabilities are engineers, teachers, doctors, administrators and business leaders. When you take disability out of the equation, you can base your hiring decisions on factors that really make a difference in your workforce: attitude, aptitude and ability.
MYTH: Accommodations for employees with disabilities are expensive, complicated and require an investment in specialized equipment and training.
FACT: It’s actually the minority of workers with a disability who require some sort of equipment or accommodation. In fact, 50% of accommodations cost nothing, and most cost less than an average of $500.
MYTH: It is very difficult to interview individuals with disabilities because it is so easy to violate human rights laws.
FACT: Use the same interview techniques and ask the same job-related questions that you would ask other applicants. If you’re unsure about the person’s capability to do the job, ask “How would you perform this task?” Remember to focus on abilities rather than disabilities, and interviewing should be easy.
MYTH: Employees with disabilities will miss too much work or won't be able to effectively perform their job responsibilities.
FACT: A DuPont study showed that 90 percent of people with disabilities rated average or better on job performance. Additional research has found that 86% of employees with disabilities have average or above average attendance records and 33% of employers say that persons with disabilities work as hard as other employees while 46% say that persons with disabilities actually work harder.
MYTH: If an employee with a disability has performance issues or doesn’t work out, there is nothing I can do about it because they cannot be fired.
FACT: Human rights legislation respects an employer’s right to operate a productive business. Employees with disabilities should be held to the same performance standards as other employees – they just may need some accommodations to reach those standards. If an employee is not meeting performance expectations, follow the same procedures you normally would. For example: discuss the problem with the employee, look for solutions, document the situation and if necessary, terminate employment.
DuPont/Australian Public Service Commission [APSC] “Ability at work: Tapping the talent of people with disability,” Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia, 2007.