Workers With Disabilities Are an Opportunity for Employers

As healthcare employers continue to struggle to fill high-demand positions, it’s critical for organizations to explore historically underutilized talent. For example, people with physical or developmental disabilities are too often excluded from the workforce. As a result, workplaces committed to developmental, physical, and cultural inclusivity have a competitive advantage for a wider talent pool.

Healthcare employers are leading by example when it comes to employing people with disabilities. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2021, 20.7% of all workers with disabilities were employed in education and health services positions. One of the benefits of the healthcare industry is the wide range of positions available, which offers more opportunities to workers with disabilities. For instance, many of these workers are employed in medical assistant, medical coder, healthcare administrator, and community health educator jobs.

Hiring workers with disabilities is an asset to a company, not a liability. Some businesses have found that their employees who have intellectual disabilities find value in, and are incredibly dedicated to, positions that usually have a high turnover rate. This is especially salient today, when employers in all industries, and especially those in healthcare, are struggling to retain their workforce. Additionally, when you create opportunities for advancement, these same workers can move into positions with higher responsibility and play integral roles in the success of the workplace.

Another benefit to hiring more diverse populations is better patient care. Many patients have reported that their signs of disability have been ignored by doctors in the past. The lack of attention and early treatment can lead to years of frustration and hardship for these patients. Workers with disabilities offer perspectives and input that are impossible to recreate, and those perspectives have the potential to alleviate much of the frustration that some patients endure.

Able-bodied, neurotypical employers often do not have the insight to understand the barriers that people with disabilities face. Including workers with disabilities in organizational decision-making processes helps to inform employers of the accommodations needed to create a fair and accessible workplace. Just as racial equity and inclusion are necessary for making informed workplace decisions, so is the inclusion of people with disabilities.

Claudio Manno

-- Program Associate, National Fund for Workforce Solutions