Employing Americans with Disabilities in Facility Management Roles
One in five Americans has a disability–and only about half of those with disabilities are currently employed. These figures are not going unnoticed as private, public, and government sectors are making significant efforts to employ and train individuals with disabilities, while filling an array of valuable roles–particularly in the facility and maintenance management fields.
Vic Wursten, VP of Operations at PRIDE Industries, says, “Americans with disabilities face unemployment at nearly four times the rate of the general population. Yet, Americans with disabilities are a major untapped source of qualified employment candidates.”
Organizations like PRIDE, Goodwill, and Melwood provide training, employment, and placement services for individuals with disabilities–often in maintenance management roles. Because of these organizations’ efforts, it’s been demonstrated that a wide range of facility roles can be filled by individuals with disabilities. But why should an organization practice this hiring strategy?
Interviewed experts suggest many reasons companies should not overlook individuals with disabilities–and why these individuals are actually a very valuable untapped resource.
- Absenteeism is lower and performance is often higher. Studies show that folks with disabilities tend to show stronger job performance and have less frequency of absence. Wursten adds, “People with disabilities are a diverse group of people who, in general, possess heightened problem-solving skills, a demonstration of patience having overcome significant obstacles, and above all, enthusiasm and an eagerness to succeed in the workplace.”
- Turnover is also lower. A United Nations report* shows that after a year of employment, retention rates of disabled individuals is 85 percent.
- Tap a pool of already trained individuals. Organizations like PRIDE, Goodwill, and Melwood provide rigorous training that prepares individuals for a specific trade, eliminating the need for training by the organization seeking new employees. This saves time and costs associated with training new hires.
- There may be tax benefits. There are some tax credits available for organizations that employee individuals with disabilities–often off-setting any potential accommodation costs.
- It demonstrates Corporate Social Responsibility. Demonstrating diversity within an organization is highly valuable. This is attractive to consumers as a whole–and the above PRIDE study shows that Americans with disabilities represent $1 trillion in purchasing power.
Overall, practicing this type of employment strategy is valuable to both the organization and the public. Offsetting the high costs associated with both training and turnover, while making a significant social impact–is a win-win for all parties involved. Furthermore, with the impending ‘maintenance crisis,’ now is a great time to establish innovative approaches to closing the skills gap. Does your organization have experience hiring individuals with disabilities? Share your experiences below.
BIO: Ashley Halligan is an analyst at Austin-based Software Advice, specializing in the facility and maintenance management markets.
*report is no longer online
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