Hopefully one day in the not-too-distant future there won’t be a need to write an article like this, as we hope the majority of businesses will have firsthand experience of the benefits of employing people living with a disability, injury, illness or disadvantage, and will have realised the value of a diverse and inclusive workplace.
Many Australian businesses are struggling with labor shortages and retention of employees. But there is a massive talent pool of skilled, dedicated and loyal people ready and willing to work. With slight accommodations and minor workplace adjustments people living with a disability can be the solution to many businesses labor shortages.
What does it mean to have a disability?
Disability is such a broad term. Disability can range from a person living with chronic pain, an acquired brain injury, mental health conditions or a physical disability. Not only is disability very broad, but the impact the health condition has on each person is very different. Therefore, workplace modifications need to be tailored to meet individual needs.
Unfortunately, people living with disability generally have fewer employment opportunities throughout their life. Often finding it more difficult to find an employment opportunity in the first instance. The Australian Bureau of Statistics recently released new figures that indicate the unemployment rate for people living with disabilities compared to people without a disability is significantly higher, it is double. The unemployment rate for people living with disability is 10%, compared to 4.6% for people without a disability.
In the past people living with disability have been disadvantaged in the recruitment process. They have spent their entire life learning to be adaptable, to find new and creative was to achieve tasks and overcome their personal barriers. However, they can be easily looked over in the recruitment process, due to the potential employers lack of education and knowledge around disability and workplace modifications. That’s why it is so important for Disability Employment Services (DES) providers, such as atWork Australia, to build strong relationships with employers, so they can educate, advocate on their client’s behalf and promote the benefits of employing people living with disability. atWork Australia General Manager, Partnerships and Stakeholder Engagement, Debbie Brooks wrote an article titled How Inclusive Recruitment Benefits Small Business, which provides lots of great insights on the benefits of hiring people living with disability.
Why hiring people living with disability is a smart business decision
1. Improved reliability and cost savings
According to research, the cost is exactly the same as employing those without disabilities. Employers may be eligible for funding through the Australian Government’s Employment Assistance Fund (EAF) which may cover such costs as accessibility requirements for eligible persons including equipment and accessing services.
2. Enhanced brand reputation and staff morale
Your employer branding is a representation of how you are viewed by your current employees, customers, as well as prospective candidates who are seeking new opportunities. Often, professionals prefer organisations that embrace diversity, feeling it is an important part of a company’s culture.
When you highlight a diverse staff or various initiatives that focus on inclusivity, you are more likely to be seen as an employer of choice. This can bolster your retention and recruitment efforts, increasing the odds you are considered a company that professionals want to find opportunities with and stay with for the long-term.
3. Increased customer retention
A workforce that reflects the diversity of the wider community may also lead to greater customer loyalty and satisfaction across industries. A workforce that reflects your customer base, creates a better connection.
4. Broader talent pool and improved productivity
Inclusive workplaces are likely to be more engaged, motivated, and productive, with employees staying with a diverse business for longer. Recruitment strategies that include the employment of people with disability also opens the door to other diverse groups, helping meet HR targets and benefit from the full talent pool.
5. Workplace accommodations and subsidies
When you employ a person living with disability, injury or health condition, they very often do not need any specific workplace changes to be effective in their job. For those that do, some form of modification or adjustment will help them overcome the impact of their disability, injury or health condition thus building a more equitable and inclusive workplace.
As an employer who partners with atWork Australia you may be eligible to receive generous wage subsidies for the candidates you employ. These wage subsidies are available to help offset the costs of on-the-job training, contribute to wages or any other workforce development activity. Wage subsidies of up to $10,000 are available to employers. Terms and conditions apply. We can help you access these subsidies and incentives for hiring people living with disability. With this support, you can also create an accessible and inclusive workplace and give people living with disability the chance to show what they can do.
Building an inclusive workforce is the future of work
We connect people who need extra support to secure employment with employers who need eager and job-ready employees. We believe work’s for everyone and we all have strengths we can bring to work. For an employer, this means we are experts at finding candidates with the right attitude, skills and abilities for your position. For an employee, this means we can help them realise their potential and find a job that makes the most of their skills. A whole-hearted approach to recruitment.
Get in touch with one of atWork Australia’s employment specialist today, to discuss how we can support your recruitment needs.