Find a reliable talent pipeline in people with disabilities

While tech layoffs grab headlines, many industries are facing persistent labor shortages and high employee turnover.

The US Chamber of Commerce said, “We hear every day from our member companies — of every size and industry, across nearly every state — they’re facing unprecedented challenges trying to find enough workers to fill open jobs.”

If you’re facing a frontline labor shortage, I’d like you to consider a proven, if relatively unknown, staffing solution: hiring people with disabilities.

Overcoming Turnover

Companies can counter labor shortages by tapping alternative workforces for reliable talent. One of those labor sources is people with disabilities.

For example, 82% of hotels are experiencing staffing shortages, according to the American Hotel and Lodging Association.

Meanwhile, at Thunder Valley Casino Resort, a team of 30 people with disabilities clean 10,000 pounds of laundry every day. The work was previously outsourced, and the team outperforms the previous vendor in quality and cost. Laundry Manager Khawar Quresh is so impressed that he has held up the group’s work as a model for other departments.

Thunder Valley and hundreds of other businesses in California and around the country engage employees with disabilities through a supported employment program working with partner agencies. The model features work groups — state-supported programs that bundle three-four employees and a job coach forming a team. The partner agency is the employer of record and takes care of hiring, training, payroll and on-the-job support, relieving the parent company of the management overhead.

PREMIUM CONTENT: Most Complex Contingent Markets Globally 2024

It’s Hard to Find People

A report from Deloitte and the Manufacturing Institute found that manufacturers could need as many as 3.8 million new workers by 2033. Roughly 1.9 million jobs could go unfilled if current labor gaps remain unsolved.

Doug Jacot, director of manufacturing at Acushnet Golf (maker of Titleist and FootJoy golfing products), knows firsthand the difficulty finding dedicated workers.

“It’s hard to find people to do this work,” he said. He has been hiring work groups with people with disabilities for more than 20 years. Every day, teams of employees with disabilities build thousands of packages and inserts at the company’s San Diego County manufacturing facility.

Citing the team’s “can-do” attitude, Jacot said, “If I could hire a hundred of them, I would.”

The team model and on-going coaching built-in to work groups foster comradery and that positive attitude. That’s one reason employers report lower absenteeism and turnover with this staffing model. “They are the hardest workers you’re going to find,” said Elizabeth Valverde, a job coach that works with the team at Acushnet. “You’re not going to have any attendance issues. They’re going to be there bright and early, ready to work.”

An Onramp to Inclusive Hiring

Employers have the option of hiring work group members as full-time employees, and many do. The model serves as a sort of onramp to inclusive hiring for companies, allowing them to overcome fears and uncertainty about bringing this population into the workforce.

But there’s more. You also get to experience what I call the “magic” of giving life-changing employment to individuals who normally face indifference at best, and bias at worst, when looking for work. Joel Moore, VP of hotel operations at Thunder Valley, talks about the “joy” employees with disabilities bring to the workplace. “The level of absenteeism is lower than in other teams,” he said. “These employees stay longer because they love working here.”

The Difference Is Positive

The biggest difference in hiring work groups of employees with disabilities is positive — employers get hardworking, loyal, enthusiastic employees eager to work. I encourage employers struggling to fill frontline roles to consider this underutilized workforce.

Darelyn Pazdel

Darelyn Pazdel
Darelyn Pazdel is VP of workforce inclusion at PRIDE Industries.

Darelyn Pazdel

Share This Post


Recent Articles

Powered by ·