Over 1.6 million New Jersey adults, or approximately 23% of the total population, live with some form of disability.
According to the most recent data, however, the employment rate of working-age adults with disabilities in New Jersey was 37.7%.
While many individuals with disabilities have unique skills and the desire to work, they face difficulties navigating the job market. Facilitating the entry of people with disabilities into the workforce is key to growing the economy, especially in light of the fact that people with disabilities and their dependents account for 13.8% of all Social Security beneficiaries.
Increasing employment opportunities for people with disabilities helps them better provide for themselves and their families, while simultaneously empowering them to be more independent.
Moreover, employing disabled individuals benefits employers as well.
Hiring individuals with disabilities increases an organization’s diversity and introduces employees with different perspectives and skills into the workforce. Employees with disabilities have high retention rates – 85%, according to the Alliance for the Betterment of Citizens with Disabilities. Similarly, Marriott has previously found that the turnover rate for employees hired through a program for people with special needs was just 6%, while overall company turnover was 52%.
The ongoing workforce challenges, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, present an opportunity for employers to expand their applicant pool by adopting more inclusive hiring practices, which will help businesses find the talented workers they need to fill essential positions.
Adopting inclusive hiring practices and providing workplace accommodations may seem burdensome, but there are simple adjustments a business can make. For example, indicating on job postings that individuals with disabilities are encouraged to apply and advertising jobs on multiple mediums utilizing accessible messaging with large text, graphics and audio increases the reach of hiring efforts.
In the workplace, providing onboarding and training for new employees, educating staff on disabilities, and allowing accommodations such as work-from-home and service animals where applicable can make the environment more accessible. Other workplace adjustments may include utilizing assistive technology and improving workspaces to provide accessible desks, walkways and other facilities.
Though there may be some costs for such accommodations, there are state and federal tax credits that employers may qualify for to offset the expense of adaptive equipment and workplace modifications. Businesses looking to hire individuals with disabilities can partner with local community-based organizations such as the Alliance for the Betterment of Citizens with Disabilities, Easterseals of New Jersey, the New Jersey Association of Community Providers, or The Arc of New Jersey for additional resources and assistance.
NJBIA continues to be a leading voice for hiring workers with disabilities. In May, we strongly supported a bill introduced by Senate President Steve Sweeney that would provide tax credits to businesses which employ the disabled. And in September, we were thrilled to host a webinar that included experts providing guidance and information for businesses seeking to hire employees with disabilities.
During the webinar, Thomas Baffuto, the executive director of The Arc of New Jersey, said it best:
“We all share the vision that a diversified workforce benefits everyone and that people with disabilities want and need to be part of this workforce in New Jersey.”
To learn more, view the webinar at njbia.org/hdw.
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