By Kelly Mertl, Director of Community Initiatives, United Way Ottawa
Employees with disabilities offer a large untapped talent pool for employers. In the context of an aging workforce and a shortage of young skilled workers, it’s a wonder that this group continues to be underemployed.
Of course, employers provide a huge benefit to workers with disabilities when they provide them with a job. But probably just as important is the measurable benefit these workers provide businesses and their teams.
Research shows employers who hire people with disabilities report happier, more productive workplaces overall.
Employee retention of workers with disabilities is also 72 per cent higher than workers without disabilities.
Despite all of these positives, a lot of myths exist about hiring people with disabilities. Many employers think that it will be expensive, but in one study, 57 per cent of accommodations needed by employees with disabilities cost absolutely nothing. Another common misconception is that individuals with disabilities aren’t skilled - but we know that more than a third have post-secondary education.
On December 6, a free event for Ottawa employers will help organizations learn how to strengthen their workforce by hiring people with disabilities. The event is hosted by United Way’s Employment Accessibility Resource Network. Since 2012, the network has made more than 1,500 job matches in Ottawa.