Retailers Find Advantage of Disabled Workers

Researchers have found that disabled workers offer some substantial benefits for retail employers, including loyalty, lower turnover rates, and increases in efficiency. And BusinessWeek reports that studies show hiring the disabled does not lead to higher accommodation costs, worker comp, or sick leave.

Government statistics show that unemployment among the disabled has traditionally been higher than the national average, and the discrepancy has worsened in this recession-like economy. The BusinessWeek article, penned by Ralph Braun, an employer who uses a wheelchair, pointed to the misinformation among employers which clouds hiring decisions. “Companies fear that hiring people with disabilities will lead to higher employment costs and lower profit margins,” he writes. “This is dismaying, since these concerns have been proven groundless.” He notes surveys that reveal low costs for accommodations and no difference between different groups’ attendance rates.

But retailers can reap benefits by opening their hiring practices to encourage a diverse range of job applicants. For example, there are a number of different programs that offer tax benefits to retailers who hire the handicapped. There are also a number of programs offering benefits to employers who hire disabled veterans of the armed forces. And of course, employers who reach out to the disabled benefit from community support, recognition, and the satisfaction of doing the right thing.