Issue: A primary dilemma facing human resources today is the struggle to recruit and retain employees. Employees are the seller in a “sellers' market,” demanding higher compensation, or showing up when they want, knowing employers are struggling to hire. The good news is that there are millions of Americans fitting the description of “driven and dedicated” waiting in line for employment.
Solution: A creative and empowering solution to the staffing issue is to hire adults with disabilities. In this case, we’ll refer to them as supported employees. These talented individuals personify the definition of driven, respectful, and dedicated. It is with personal experience and personal commitment that I know supported employees will enlighten an employer’s culture, support inclusiveness and diversity, and improve the overall workplace environment. From a financial perspective, there are excellent tax benefits available to employers of supported employees. Employees with a purpose will far outperform those without, therefore the employer often will see higher productivity levels resulting in higher-performing financial outcomes.
Importantly, there are various definitions and levels of disability. There’s no one size fits all. Disability is defined as a physical or mental condition that limits a person’s movements, senses, or activities. Someone may be blind, autistic, deaf, have down syndrome, ADHD, etc. Regardless of what industry you are in, a vast majority of employers benefit from employing adults with some form of disability.
Through supported employment, not-for-profit agencies partner with employers to assist in the following:
- Screening job candidates
- Job training
- Effective accommodations
- Transportation arrangements
These supported employment agencies work to co-develop an effective employer/employee relationship by assessing the individuals' and their families’ desires. Job coaches, who are employed by supported agencies, provide in-person support for an individual with a disability. This support allows the employee their chance to move from dependence on a “service system” to independence through true private employment while improving their skills and confidence.
Next steps: Hiring a supported employee is not often the first thought in filling a role and is seemingly overlooked. It takes a special employer to prioritize and take on this important opportunity. The first step is to find out where you can talk to someone about hiring a supported employee. Below are just a few resources that may assist an employer in hiring their next “Employee of the Month!”
- Work Plus, Inc.: workplus.org
- Easter Seals: eastersealswisconsin.com
- Creative Solutions of Wisconsin: creativesolutionswi.com
- Potential Tax Benefits: https://www.irs.gov/businesses/small-businesses-self-employed/tax-benefits-for-businesses-who-have-employees-with-disabilities
- Job Accommodation Network (JAN) Article: https://askjan.org/topics/costs.cfm