7 Reasons to Hire People with Developmental Disabilities

I still remember going to my aqua size class when Kent was there. He was a young man with Downs Syndrome. After I got to know him, aqua size became a lot less of a grind and a lot more fun. We would splash each other, come up with goofy sayings and razz each other. […]

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I still remember going to my aqua size class when Kent was there. He was a young man with Downs Syndrome. After I got to know him, aqua size became a lot less of a grind and a lot more fun. We would splash each other, come up with goofy sayings and razz each other. It felt like I was released from the pressures and expectations of being a responsible adult and had permission to become real and authentic kid temporarily. When Kent wasn’t there,  something was missing. The fun, spontaneity and energy were gone. While 15% of people with developmental disabilities (DD) are employed, 40% would like a job. Matthew Gonnering, CEO of Widen has hired 5% of his workforce from persons with developmental disabilities and has become a strong advocate for organizations to do so. In his TEDx talk he explains why he feels so passionately about this. While there are concerns that employers have about hiring persons with developmental disabilities, those who have done so report the benefits far outweigh any extra effort required to onboard and keep these deserving people on the company payroll. Findings by the Institute for Corporate Productivity indicate that organizations that hired intellectually and developmentally disabled workers found the challenges of hiring to be 42% less than expected while the performance ratings were 75% good to great on most factors.  

Here are 7 good reasons that it is a good idea for organizations to hire people with developmental disabilities. 

Encourage a Positive Attitude Amongst All Staff 

Most people with disabilities love their jobs and have a positive attitude in the workplace. This rubs off on those around them and increases this positive inclination of those they work with. People who are likely to complain and gripe are less likely to do so. Seeing coworkers who are less fortunate giving their best with a positive approach makes it likely that negativity will find less support.  

More Reliable and Conscientious 

Happy and proud to have a job, people with developmental disabilities (DD) take less sick days, arrive for work on time more often and return from breaks more promptly than their coworkers. They are hard workers and will take on tasks to the best of their ability. Taking pride in a job well done, they take direction well and are less likely to display a negative attitude and/or arrogance.  

Dedication and Loyalty to the Organization 

Grateful to have a job, persons with DD are more likely to stay at a job and less likely to look for other opportunities. This decreases turnover and makes for a more stable environment for employers  

An Inspiration to Their Coworkers  

Developmentally Disabled worker’s upbeat and can-do attitude inspires their coworkers. Team work improves as coworkers reach out to help them succeed as part of their team. This helping attitude in turn helps spread cooperation and goodwill amongst all staff across the organization.  

Increase Organizational Spirit and Desirability of the Organization as a Place to Work 

Hiring persons with DD sends the message that inclusion, diversity and equality are important values of the organization. It is a message that appeals to prospective employees, especially millennials. A recent survey by the US Business Leadership Network found that 68% of millennials believe it to be very important that a company they work for fosters a workplace that is diverse and inclusive. 

Customers Prefer Organizations That Hire Persons with Developmental Disabilities 

A national survey was conducted to find out how customers viewed companies that hired persons with disabilities. They discovered that 92% of customers felt more favorably toward organizations that hired persons with DD. 87% specifically mentioned that they would chose to do business with a company that hired persons with developmental disabilities over ones that did not.  

Creates a Ripple Effect with Other Organizations 

Seeing that your organization has had success in hiring people with DD will encourage and motivate other companies to do the same. When they see the benefits that persons with disabilities have brought to your organization, other organizations will want to follow suit and gain similar benefits. Companies that have fears and misconceptions around hiring people with DD will have their concerns greatly diminished by looking at the success of others that have.

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