Employers Could Use Help with Disability Hiring Efforts

November 2, 2010 (PLANSPONSOR.com) – A new survey finds that employers could use some help hiring people with disabilities.

According to The Kessler Foundation/National Organization on Disability 2010 Survey of Employment of Americans with Disabilities, around six in ten (56%) employers have hired someone with a disability in the past three years; a quarter of companies have not, and another 19% are not sure. A third (34%) of companies report regularly tracking the number of people with disabilities they employ.  

After an absence of job openings (69%), not being able to find qualified candidates with disabilities (66%) is a major or minor reason respondents cited for not having hired more people with disabilities in the past three years, and 39% say they are not sure how to find qualified candidates.  

According to the survey results, the most common way companies recruit people with disabilities is through referrals (employee referrals, 70% and friends/word-of-mouth, 62%) and online job boards (58%). However, a significant number of managers also report using service provider agencies. Forty percent (and 53% of HR managers only) report using non-profit or community-based service provider agencies, while 39% (and 50% of HR managers only) say they recruit people with disabilities through state or federal providers, such as Vocational Rehabilitation.   

Only one third (34%) of employers rate the service provider agencies as effective. Half (48%) of the companies who don’t use service providers say they don’t need the services they offer.  

But almost two-thirds (63%) of corporations that use the services name assistance finding qualified candidates with disabilities as one of the top two most helpful services offered by the agencies. Job sculpting (that is, matching job descriptions to a specific set of skills) was the second most helpful (53%).   

Although most corporate managers (54%) say their disability programs are only somewhat or not at all effective at recruiting, hiring and retaining people with disabilities, other survey findings suggest the programs may be more effective than they think. Companies with disability programs are significantly more likely to have hired someone with a disability in the past three years (68% vs. 55% with only a policy and 41% with neither).  

The survey was conducted by telephone and online in April 2010 among 411 human resource managers and senior executives at companies with over 50 employees.  

An Executive Summary of the survey findings is here.