With job openings up, recruiting and hiring qualified individuals with the “right fit” has become more challenging.  If you’re looking for solutions to your hiring needs, consider the great value disabled employees bring. 

According to the August 30, 2022, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are 11.2 million job openings nationwide.  This number is up since the COVID pandemic first hit in 2021.  We see “now hiring” signs popping up everywhere.  With so many job openings, job seekers can be more selective and demanding. 

In a 2021, online report by The Center for American Progress, nearly 6 million people with at least one disability were employed in the labor market, an increase of 600,000 compared to 2020.  While 19.1 percent of people with at least one disability were employed in 2021, that number is more than 3 times larger for those without a disability.  If disabled workers were recruited and hired at the same rate as non-disabled, nearly 14 million more disabled people would have been employed in 2021.[1]

Consider further diversifying your team to include disabled or uniquely-able candidates.

Disabled employees bring great value to your company, including increased profit margins, federal and state tax incentives, productivity gains and heightened morale.    

Increased Profit Margin

According to the 2018 Accenture Research study, businesses actively seeking to employ people with disabilities outperform businesses that do not. Their revenues were 28% higher, net income was two times more, and profit margins were up by 30%.  Companies that were rated “disability inclusion champions” were twice as likely to have a higher shareholder return than their peer group.[2]  Department of Labor found employers who embraced disability inclusion saw a 90% increase in employee retention.

In the December 3, 2021, forbes.com article, “Seven Reasons Why Hiring People with Disabilities Is Good For Business,” Karen Herson, Forbes Council Member, explains how people with disabilities have been solving problems their whole life and bring a strong sense of loyalty to the workplace.  Leaders from CVS to Microsoft and Merck have stated hiring people with disabilities has improved their bottom line. Leaders from these large organizations shared how they focus on hiring a workforce that reflects their consumer base.  This includes people with disabilities.

Federal and State Tax Incentives

The government realizes the benefits of business owners hiring employees with disabilities.  Federal financial incentives include the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC), the Architectural Barrier Removal Tax Deduction and the Disabled Access Credit.  In addition, incentives are available for employers hiring veterans with service-connected disabilities. 

State employer tax incentives are provided to assist with work space changes, employment supports, and accessibility improvements. Employers can also take advantage of the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) and state tax credits, although these vary by state.

Very productive disabled employee with a mechanical arm reaching bottom lines at work at her desk

Productivity Gains

“Hiring people with disabilities is a win for everyone involved,” Mary Dale Walters, senior vice president of strategic communications at Allsup, told businesswomen. “Those with disabilities often look at business problems differently and bring innovative thinking to new products and customer service.

The Accenture Research study highlights six main areas of employer “inclusion incentives.” Areas include:

1) Increased innovation, 2) Improved shareholder value, 3) Improved productivity, 4) Access to the supplier ecosystem, 5) Improved market share, and 6) Enhanced reputation.

Heightened Morale

President George H.W. Bush pushed for inclusion and employment for millions of people with disabilities.  In 1990, Bush signed into law the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). To support employees, companies need a strong disability inclusion policy in order to thrive.                                                                     

  • Building and supporting an inclusive workforce can improve morale and workplace culture.  It sends an important message about company values. Disabled job seekers and existing employees desire working for a company with a strong culture and inclusion policy.  Without disability inclusion, a workforce won’t thrive. 
  • Disability inclusion is a critical part of employee support
  • Employees prefer diverse, inclusive workplaces
  • Inclusion builds morale and helps all employees do their best work

Employers who build and implement a more diverse workplace to include disability inclusion can expect higher engagement from all employees. 

Today stigmas and ignorance still exist in the workplace surrounding people with special needs.  This lack of knowledge may influence unfair prejudgments of disabled people’s work capabilities.  Let’s look at the myths and facts about hiring disabled employees.


According to a 2021 article on hiring disabled employees from Forbes, employers are hesitant to hire disabled employees because they are concerned about the stereotypes and misconceptions. They may feel handicapped people:

  • Can only do menial labor
  • Miss a lot of work
  • Are not as productive as non-disabled co-workers
  • Cost more to on board
  • Reduce co-workers’ productivity
Very productive disabled employee reaching bottom lines in a wheelchair on the phone working at his desk


  • Companies offering recruiting and retaining programs require all candidates meet all the same requirements as the non-disabled candidates.
  • Take fewer days off
  • Research shows disabled people are as, if not more, productive than average
  • A 2020 study on the benefits and costs of accommodations reflects most employers report minimal costs for accommodating disabled employees
  • Increase overall productivity and morale

If you’re thinking about recruiting a disabled individual but still aren’t sure, consider hiring on a temporary basis.  Recruiting on a temporary or part-time only basis allows for a trial run for both parties.  Another option is local disabled college students may be interested in an internship with your company.  State and local agencies can provide detailed information and support.


Connect with local organizations. A few include:

  • State Vocational Rehabilitation agencies or the Council of State Administrations of Vocational Rehabilitation’s National Employment Team (The NET)
  • Disability:IN Business Leadership Network affiliate
  • State or local Veterans Employment Center

[1] “Removing Obstacles for Disabled Workers Would Strengthen the U.S. Labor Market.” 2021. CAP Centers for American        Progress. Americanprogress.org. September 1, 2022.

[2] 2018 Accenture Research. Accenture.com. September 1, 2022.