4 Myths about disability in the workplace

posted in: Employers | 0

According to Disability Credit Canada 69% of Canadian small businesses have never hired a person with a disability. With as many as 1 in 10 working-age Canadians reporting that they have a disability, it’s no wonder than the employment rate for people with disabilities is higher than the national average.

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month. To help promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace, we’re sharing some common facts and misconceptions about disability in the workplace.

MYTH 1: People with disabilities miss work frequently
FACT: People with disabilities are no more likely to be absent from work than the average employee

According to an estimate from Circadian, absenteeism–employees being absent from work–can cost a company as much as USD$2,660 per worker, per year. It’s clear why you want to hire employees who can show up to work. But just because a person has a disability does not mean they will miss work more frequently than anyone else.

According to a multi-decade study by Dupont, 85% of employees with disabilities had average or above average attendance. This finding lines up with a DePaul University study that found that employees with disabilities are absent from work slightly less than the average over a six month period–on average all employees missed 8.8 days and employees with disabilities missed 8.7 days.

MYTH 2: People with disabilities will quit unexpectedly
FACT: People with disabilities are more likely to stay with a company

According to a study by the Center for American Progress, the costs of finding, hiring and training a new employee to replace one who leaves can be as high as 20% of that employee’s salary.

But there is no reason to think that employees with disabilities are more likely to leave than any other employee. In fact, according to a report from Deloitte, staff retention is 72% higher with employees with disabilities compared to all employees.

MYTH 3: Making accommodations for employees with disabilities is costly
FACT: Most accommodations have no or low cost associated with them

According to a survey of employers by BMO, 67% of those surveyed said they did not know how much accommodations would cost and the average estimate was $10,000. But the reality is that he average cost of accommodation, is $500–5% of the average employer estimate. And according to Deloitte, 57% employees with disabilities do not require any additional accommodation at all.

Setting up accommodations are also often a one-time cost–i.e. adding an assistive device or installing lower shelving. as the average age of the working population continues to increase, the number of employees with disabilities is going to go up. In some cases, you could view the cost of setting up accommodations as an investment in your future workforce.

MYTH 4: Employees with disabilities can’t meet performance targets
FACT: Most Employees with disabilities meet or exceed expectations

It goes without saying that you want to hire the best performers you can for your business. But if you want to put a number on the cost of low performance, A Gallup report estimates that disengagement and low-performance costs the US economy between $450 billion – 550 billion USD per year.

You can’t afford to hire low performers in your organization. Luckily, several studies have found that people with disabilities are among the highest performers in an organization. A multi-decade study by Dupont, found that 92% employees rated average or better in terms of job performance. Employees without disability rated 90%.

Employers agree. According to a survey of employers conducted by BMO, 77% of employers who had hired a person with a disability said the employee met or exceeded their expectations.

Further Reading: