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Tips for Employing Someone with a Disability

There are many benefits to be gained for organisations to employ a person with a disability but there is some preparation to do before getting started to ensure it’s successful for both parties.

Almost 1 in 5 Australians have a recognised disability. For an organisation that hasn’t employed someone with a disability before, it can be daunting to know where to start, especially with the common misconceptions that surround hiring people with a disability such as increased hiring costs, more sick days, and little support for employers.

However, research has proven that these misconceptions are purely assumptions and employing someone with a disability can benefit the company, its employees and their customers, by promoting a more inclusive and positive work environment.

Benefits of an Inclusive Workforce

When an organisation employs people across all socio-economic groups, including those who live with disabilities, you will have a stronger workforce. Having employees of different backgrounds and abilities allows people to learn from each other, and in turn, be able to further empathise with potential customers that come from all walks of life.

A more diverse and inclusive team where everyone is treated fairly and with respect can also have a positive impact on the culture of the organisation and improve staff retention. According to one study by Deloitte, companies with inclusive cultures have 22% lower turnover rates, 27% higher profitability, and 39% higher customer satisfaction.

The retention rate of people living with a disability is often higher than other employees. A case study by Compass Group found that employees hired through the Disability Employment Services (DES) Partner Program achieved a retention rate of more than 95%, which was significantly higher than employees recruited by other means. This reduced turnover rate can help save costs when it comes to future recruitment and training.

Tips for Employing Someone with a Disability

A few simple changes to the way you recruit and induct employees who may have a disability can make a difference.

#1 Offer Support During the Interview Process

Before any interview, ensure the interview location is accessible for the interviewee and ask the interviewee if they have any requirements that will help them through the process. For example, they may need a support worker or interpreter to be present during the interview process. This ensures no one is unfairly disadvantaged.

#2 During the Interview

Hold interviews with individuals with a disability the same as you would all candidates. Treat the candidate with respect and concentrate on only asking questions relevant to their technical skills, experience, knowledge and interests rather than how they will perform specific tasks on the job.

#3 Organise an Ergonomic Assessment

Having a professional occupational therapist assist in conducting an ergonomic assessment and setup of the workstation will ensure the new employee has the aids they require to do their job. An assessment also shows the employee that the organisation values their contribution and wants to make their workday as comfortable as possible.

#4 Provide a Buddy

A buddy system can work well for new starters, making an employee feel more welcome. A person with a disability may need extra reassurance and support. Having someone other than their supervisor to ask as many questions as they need, may help them feel more comfortable and relaxed.

#5 Access Professional Assistance

Organisations don’t need to do it alone when recruiting and assisting prospective employees with a disability. It’s unlikely a HR manager has all the skills and experience in dealing with a broad range of disabilities and the needs of a prospective employee.

Altius Group has workplace consultants that help connect individuals with suitable disability employment partners. Consultants draw on the collective knowledge of their team of allied health professionals to provide a suite of services that meet the needs of candidates. Altius Group has placed more than 1,500 individuals with 1,000 inclusive employers to achieve mutually beneficial outcomes. The Altius Group recruitment service is free for organisations to access.

Building an inclusive and diverse workforce is a great way to improve workplace culture and support people from all walks of life who are keen to contribute to your organisation and make a difference. Disability employment services, such as CIM Employment by Altius, aim to support and improve a person's capacity for work by providing holistic services to employers and people with injury, health conditions or disability. Contact us online or call 1800 258 487 for more information.

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