The Top 5 Myths about Disabled Workers

Disabled workers illustrated by handicap sign

While many equal-opportunity employers across America are happy to hire disabled workers, there are still some who are skeptical about employing people with disabilities. Even in 2016, why are companies hesitant to hire disabled employees?

There are various myths and stereotypes about disabled workers that may cause certain employers to hesitate when making a hiring decision. Let’s take a look at some of them, and decide if there is any merit to these arguments.

Myth #1 – Disabled Employees Take Frequent Sick Leaves

Many employers believe that a worker with a disability is likely to take more sick leave, which will cost the company large sums of money in the long run. However, there is no need to fear.

In fact, employees with disabilities have the same or sometimes even higher attendance than their peers. It’s a misconception that disabled workers are more likely to be absent from work. Workers with disabilities may feel that they would be judged harshly for missing work, and that makes them more likely to turn up.

Myth #2 – You Can’t Fire or Discipline Them If They Underperform

Hiring someone with a disability entails the same rules and expectations as hiring any other employee. If they don’t work diligently, or are unwilling to work, you are within your rights as an employer to discipline or fire them.

All you need to do is set clear performance goals when they join the company, and communicate to them that these goals need to be consistently met. Once you are sure that they understand their role and the expectations, it is your job to speak with them if they underperform and discipline them if they continue to be unsatisfactory. Of course, you should accommodate a disabled employee’s needs at the workplace, but when it comes to performance, everyone must be held to the same high standard.

Myth#3 – They Are More Likely To Quit

Just like any other worker in a company, whether a disabled worker stays or leaves depends on their work environment, and sometimes outside issues unrelated to their disability but beyond their control.

However, if you have made the work environment as hospitable and accommodating as possible, disabled workers are even more likely than their able-bodied peers to stay with the company. That’s right! Most studies show that disabled workers have a higher retention rate than non-disabled workers. This is probably because once the work environment is fully accommodating to their special needs, they are less likely to look for opportunities elsewhere, for which they would have to adjust to new and unfamiliar working conditions.

Myth #4 – Employees with Disabilities Require Specialized Equipment

Not everyone with a disability requires specialized equipment; this depends on the type of disability that a worker has. Often, the only thing that needs to be adjusted for them is the kinds of duties that they have to perform, or the number of hours they have to work.

And even if special equipment, such as a wheelchair ramp, is required, the cost is very small compared to the service and value your employee brings to the organization.

Myth #5 – They Don’t Possess the Skill, and Often Require Help

Indeed, most disabled people looking for employment possess exactly the right set of skills required for a position, perhaps due to their mindset that they need to be the best at what they do to compete with their able-bodied peers. They are just like any other educated individuals, and do especially well in knowledge-driven roles.

As for needing assistance, disabled workers are much more independent than you might think. They have had to overcome numerous challenges in their lives, and can manage themselves quite well in day-to-day activities.

Often, due to these above myths, disabled workers find it hard to find work in the corporate world. These myths and stereotypes need to be debunked so that these gifted individuals can get the jobs they want and live normal lives, just like everybody else.

As an employer, when you choose to hire disabled people, you are tapping into a much larger talent pool than companies who are hesitant to hire workers with disabilities due to commonly-held misconceptions. You are also showing that your company is socially aware, and by helping disabled candidates find work, you also boost morale at the workplace and improve your organization’s public image.