5 Assets Persons With A Disability Can Bring To Your Business

To twist a well-known saying, “Don’t judge an employee by their disability.” Your business might be missing out on a valuable asset. An Accenture study reports companies who recognize the unique talents of the disabled experience a 28% higher revenue and 30% higher profit margin over a four-year period.

What is it about people with a disability that makes them great employees? Here are some of the unique assets they can bring to help grow your small business.

Disability-Centered Job Skills

Remember, “ability” is part of the word “disability.” The characteristics of the disability itself can offer distinctive skills to employers. 60 Minutes recently profiled five employees on the autism spectrum who work in a tech firm. Because of their need for structure, they had the skills to focus on detail for extended periods of time. That made them uniquely qualified to proofread digital content for companies like Nike and Nissan.

People who are hearing impaired hone their other senses to communicate. As a result, they can pick up on nonverbal cues hearing employees might miss. That can be a critical skill if you’re meeting with a reluctant client whose words and body language don’t match up.

In both of these examples, it’s the ability within their disability that contributes to a business’  success.

Adaptability to Change

In today’s environment, change has become the new norm. Whether it’s a health crisis or an economic downturn, businesses (and their employees) need to be able to turn on a dime and adapt.

People with disabilities have learned to adapt to overcome obstacles. Often, it’s through the adoption of new technology. For example, an employee with a visual impairment is proficient in text-to-speech programs to communicate. Their familiarity with that technology can be helpful with voice-assisted customer service applications.

Conduit to Stronger Overall Workforce

Workplace diversity makes good business sense. The benefits include higher revenue, better decision making and greater innovation. But employees with physical or cognitive challenges contribute to that diversity in ways that benefit the entire business.

A U. S. Department of Labor report documented benefits when disabled individuals become part of an employer’s team. Those include greater employee retention, improved productivity and morale, reduction in workers’ compensation and training costs, and improved company diversity. In addition, a Sierra Group study reported an increase in work ethic and an overall boost in creativity and problem-solving skills.

Bridge to More Customers

Businesses that accommodate staff with a disability can expand access to new customers. A National Business and Disability Council survey reports 78% of consumers will purchase goods and services from a business that takes steps to ensure easy access for individuals with disabilities at their physical locations. 

In addition, those employees provide valuable insight into tapping the purchasing power of working-age adults with disabilities. That market’s discretionary income is estimated at $21 billion. That’s greater than the Black and Hispanic market segments combined.

Tax Advantages

Individuals with a disability entitle the small business they work for to take advantage of three federal tax incentives. They can be used to help offset the accommodations needed to make them more productive:

  • Targeted Jobs Tax Credit – A one-time tax credit up to $2,400 for the first-year wages of a new employee with a disability who is referred by specified government agencies.
  • Disabled Access Tax Credit – An annual credit up to $5,000 for expenses incurred to provide access to persons with a disability.
  • Tax Deduction to Remove Barriers – Up to $15,000 annual tax deduction for expenses incurred to remove qualified architectural and transportation barriers.   

Small businesses that hire individuals with disabilities get more than a valued employee. Their unique abilities also provide insight into new markets and access to financial incentives. Want to tap these advantages? Check out this toolkit from the U.S. Department of Labor with specific steps to recruit and retain qualified people with disabilities.