Most of us would agree that it’s a worthy pursuit to find qualified candidates and give them an opportunity to contribute and grow professionally. But, the question boils down to whether diversifying your employment pool is both the right thing to do and good for business.
Jim Eickhoff, CEO at Creative Dining Services, says that hiring practices should be focused on shared core values.
“Being inclusive in our hiring practices makes us stronger. Quality professionals who share our core values bring a level of hospitality and warmth that benefit our clients.”
With unemployment at 3.7 percent and an aging workforce, more companies are motivated to follow their intuition and increase the hiring pool recruiting from the estimated 34.2 million people who have a functional limitation.
Even with the tight market and the need for companies to find new ways to fill open positions, there can be some hesitancy to looking to this untapped group of potential employees even though employers like Creative Dining are having notable success.
Defy False Assumptions
Some hiring managers might assume that employees with disabilities have a higher absentee rate than employees without disabilities when in fact, the National Business and Disability Council reported that they are less apt to require or exceed sick days than employees without disabilities.
Other myths can stand in the way of many companies considering the diversification of their workforce. For instance, they may feel vulnerable to litigation yet the US Department of Labor reports that the number of American Disability Act employment-related cases represents a tiny percentage of the millions of employers in the U.S.
Build a Great Team
According to ZipRecruiter, job opportunities abound in America’s rural job markets, often at a greater rate than in urban markets yet finding the workers presents a problem for employers due to population levels.
“In our small town it’s difficult to recruit new staff. It’s also difficult to place some of these young adults in the work force. We have been able to work with Hope Haven and their job coaches to find a position for these young adults.”
-Barry Schroeter, Creative Dining Food Service Director at Northwestern College in Orange City, IA which has a population of 6,140 residents.
Hope Haven is a resource for disability services and advocacy in Ohio. They offer services and support to meet a broad range of needs for children, adults, and families – from physical, mental, and intellectual to residential, vocational, and spiritual.
According to Barry, ten percent of Northwestern’s food service staff has a disability. He acknowledges his food hospitality operation couldn’t run without his entire staff including one of his part-time employees.
“She gives it her all every day. She’s a very positive person. Her smiles and high-fives makes your day.”
Ensure Hiring Success
Companies who want to make a concerted effort to attract employees with disabilities should consider the following insights.
- Ask the right interview questions: Start with an open mind and ask questions like, What support do you think you will need to do the job? What specific modifications would help you be successful? Don’t make assumptions on needs. Ask your candidates what they would do in specific situations that could potentially occur on the job they are hoping to fill.
- Find the right fit: Matching the right position with the right candidate is essential. Would a shortened shift be ideal? Have you clearly defined the position and your expectations? Consider doing a work trial to determine if the candidate can do the job. Clarity, adaptability and a test run are key.
- Set the stage for success: Many hiring agencies offer job coaching until the new hire feels confident in the role. The new employee shadows the “job coach” or a “life coach” to ensure that the onboarding process is a smooth one. Once your company and your new employee feels comfortable, the job coach starts fading out their onsite presence.
Assign a Mentor
Steve McBride, Food Service Director for Creative Dining Services at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, MI works closely with Goodwill job participants. He sees firsthand the benefit of having someone for your new employee to job shadow.
Having a mentor and developing a practice of providing real-time feedback to your employee is crucial. Constructive feedback helps grow the individual and allows them to develop into an invaluable employee.
Having a thoughtful process from the interview to onboarding will enhance your ability to diversify your talent pool and hire employees that will bring fresh perspectives. Now might be the perfect time to deploy creative hiring solutions.