Hiring people with a disability could be a welcome solution for Australian organisations struggling to find workers.
Amidst a national skills shortage and the lowest unemployment rate in 40 years, this untapped resource of talent is a credible option and a potentially ongoing solution to Australia’s talent shortage.
Here are some interesting facts about Australians living with a disability….
- Of all Australians, one in five live with some form of disability (temporary or permanent)
- About 2.1 million of these people are of working age; the vast majority are able and want to work
- Employees with a disability often hold tertiary or trade qualifications
- Employees with a disability have a tendency to high levels of commitment and job dedication
- Employees with a disability are known for being productive; these workers can perform equally well as other workers
According to the 2022 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report (AIHW), people with a disability who are of working age, are twice as likely to be unemployed as people without a disability. The report also found:
- The unemployment rate of working-age people with disability has increased in recent years from approximately 8 percent to 10 percent
- One in four young people with a disability is unemployed, compared to one in 10 (or 7.9%) of older people who have a disability
- Most employed, working-aged people with a disability (88%) do not require additional support from their employer in order to work
- Most unemployed, working-aged people with a disability (82%) do not require additional support from their employer in order to work
- 82% of employed working-age people with a disability do not need regular time off from their work, because of their disability or condition/s
- Working-aged people with a disability have a lower employment rate (48%) than those without disability (80%)
From the AIHW report…
Accessing the Job Market: Hiring People with a Disability
Advocates for people with a disability argue that now is the time for organisations to broaden their scope for hiring, to include this segment of potential candidates. This isn’t just an inclusive or diversity issue; it’s also a better representation of the Australian community inside your business.
There’s a general sense that people with a disability are disadvantaged when it comes to the job market.
Catherine McAlpine is the chief executive of Inclusion Australia, a national representative organisation for people with intellectual disability.
“While we have a national labour shortage, it’s no better time for employers to really have a go at employing people with disability and understanding what great employees they make,” she said.
“It’s very hard for them to get the very first casual jobs that people often get at school as their first experience of employment,” Ms. McAlpine said.
“Without those opportunities and without other opportunities as they leave school, they get left out of the employment market totally.”
Ms. McAlpine says inaccessible online recruitment systems form one of many barriers.
“What we’d like to see change is employer attitudes,” she said.
She said employers could access support through external systems including the NDIS and Disability Employment Services to make their workplaces more accessible.
“It’s mainly about having people with and without disability working together and everyone getting paid equally for equal work” …
“We end up with everyone being able to participate in the economy, which means that people with disability don’t remain below the poverty line, which is just all too common.”
Catherine McAlpine Chief Executive, Inclusion Australia
Hiring People with a Disability: An Inclusive Hiring Process
By starting with an inclusive recruitment process, organisations will have access to a wider talent pool. Only 53% of working-age people with a disability are employed; so, a vast number of talented, skilled, and knowledgeable people may be falling outside your recruitment radar.
Unintentional recruitment barriers to attracting disabled talent to your business might include:
- Only having job applications available in one format on your website, like PDF with no other accessible versions
- Listing role requirements that are not actually essential – like saying a candidate needs a driver’s license for the role when there are alternatives available
- Unconscious, discriminatory behaviours and attitudes from employers during the hiring process
- Not advertising on a job site specifically targeting people with disability
Accessible job ads, flexible interviews, adjustments to online assessments, changes to group assessments – all these initiatives will widen the pool of applications from the disability candidate pool and will provide you with access to better candidates for job vacancies.
Hiring People with a Disability: The Business Benefits
Employing people with a disability makes good business sense. Smart organisations are embracing inclusivity and diversity in the workplace, which is proving to have significant business benefits for them. Having access to a talent pool of workers, replete with skills, education and motivation are readily available.
The business benefits from employing a worker with a disability go well beyond simply filling a job. These advantages have been confirmed in both Australian and international studies and include:
People with disability tend to take fewer days off, including less sick leave and have a higher retention rate than workers without a disability. The costs to business of absenteeism and sick leave for employees with disability can be as low as 34 per cent of the cost incurred by their non-disabled colleagues.
Australian Safety & Compensation Council report “Are People with disability at Risk at work?” May 2007
Once they’ve landed the right job, people with a disability perform equally as well as other employees.
There are many misconceptions in the business world, that people with a disability have lower productivity in the workforce. This simply isn’t the case (we have multiple sources to validate this).
In some instances, workers with a disability, who have been afforded the right workplace adjustments, have been found to be more productive than their peers without a disability.
Recruitment, insurance cover, and compensation costs are lower. People with disability have fewer compensation incidents and accidents at work compared to other employees.
Hiring People with a Disability is Good for Business
People with disability offer unique advantages to the workplace, including:
- They tend to build strong relationships with customers
- They are proven at boosting staff morale and loyalty by helping to create a diverse workforce
- They are exceptionally good at teamwork
- Real cost savings are achieved given the lower turnover of these workers, and the lower recruitment and retraining costs.
Hiring people with disability contributes to the organisation’s overall diversity. It enhances the company’s image among its staff, community, and customers with positive benefits to the employer’s brand.
Accenture reported workplaces could gain access to a new talent pool of more than 10.7 million people if workplaces were disability inclusive in the U.S.
If you’re finding that your business has a high turnover rate, resulting in gaps of knowledge within your team – it’s time to look at building an inclusive and diverse workforce to retain workers.
A review released by Safe Work Australia found that the retention rate of people with disability is higher than the retention rate of their able-bodied counterparts. And while acquiring a disability can occur at any stage in life, the likelihood increases as workers age. With the aging population in Australia, this isn’t good news for Australian workers.
Businesses that employ and support workers with disability establish an inclusive workplace. Through support and engagement strategies, these organisations typically ensure that skillful, knowledgeable employees remain in the business; the best means for strengthening their workforce.
Improve Brand Reputation
Brand reputation is a critical component of customer and worker acquisition.
Brands that demonstrate initiatives that serve the community – that go beyond the focus of profit – tend to build a trusting, loyal client base.
Customers want brands that demonstrate inclusion as well. A study by Nielsen found that 66% of customers in over 60 countries would prefer to spend money on brands that upheld robust corporate social responsibility practices. The study discovered a strong point of connection between ‘doing good for the community’ and ‘doing well with consumers’.
With momentum building in the disability inclusion space, organisations demonstrating disability engagement and employment in their business are set to stand out. Both for better hires and better customer retention.
Finally, if you’re finding it hard to land new talent for your business, start thinking about an inclusive hiring process, and the roles that may be right for workers with a disability. This will positively impact your existing workplace culture, your customers, your current workers, and your broader business community.
Build disability confidence in your business culture and company DNA. It will pay dividends well beyond the fiscal.
Also, please do contact us if you have any feedback or comments.
With operations in more than 50 countries across five continents and decades of experience, we can assist with every aspect of your program.
If you are interested in discussing employing people with a disability, please contact us.