Why it's smart to hire employees with disabilities - comment

This is an opportunity for employers to open their doors and prove that preconceptions and obstacles are solely a direct result of lack of knowledge.

Man in wheelchair, illustrative (photo credit: PICKPIK)
Man in wheelchair, illustrative
(photo credit: PICKPIK)
 Now, more than ever, as the economy gets back on its feet, the state should provide incentives for business owners to employ people with disabilities.
After nearly a year in which the economy has alternated between being open and being locked down, the vaccinations have arrived. Israel has become a world leader in vaccinating its citizens, enabling the almost complete reopening of the economy. Each day, in the media, we see hundreds of business owners complaining that they are unable to open their business due to a lack of workers, who apparently prefer to remain furloughed and receive grants promised by the government through the end of June.
There is, however, another type of employee, people who, each morning, ask: “When can we go back to work?” “I want to work and meet people,” “I miss the customers’ smiles.” Sometimes, people prefer to call them “unseen people,” however, they are everything but unseen.
Israel Elwyn has been working for over three decades toward the inclusion of individuals with disabilities in society, with an emphasis on training, support, and the placement of employees with disabilities in the job market. Throughout the past year, and particularly during the COVID-19 period, we were faced with many challenges in terms of employment, and retrained workers from a variety of fields to prepare them to work in “essential” positions. This enabled service recipients to continue with a routine that is of utmost importance for them, allowing them to continue to get up each morning, go to work, maintain a daily routine and know that they are an integral part of society.
Israel Elwyn’s job placement staff have worked day and night throughout the entire period with current employers, in order to keep these essential workers with disabilities employed rather than furloughed. Those who had to be furloughed or who were laid off due to the closing of their workplace, were retrained in essential professions and included in new jobs.
The data we have indicates that, during the past month, the majority of employees with disabilities have returned to work after being furloughed. However, those who have not yet returned very much want to do so. These extremely determined and dedicated workers have trained as: teachers’ aides in preschools, office workers, assistant chefs, kitchen workers, merchandise arrangers, general workers in the culinary field, and more. Employers who have championed “social equality” and providing equal opportunities for employment in the competitive job market, speak of dedicated and generous employees who arrive at their workplace each morning ready to get to work. Some employers did everything possible to retain their employees with disabilities, even during a period when they were forced to significantly reduce the number of employees during lockdowns and a decline in business.
A survey regarding employment of people with disabilities, conducted by Israel Elwyn this week through the “Panels Politics” market research firm, indicates that 61% of those questioned prefer to purchase from businesses employing people with disabilities, while 36% said that the subject makes no difference to them. Additionally, 61.3% of those questioned noted that, if they opened their own business, they would certainly employ workers with disabilities, while 34% said that they would do so if they received support.
Now, more than ever, is the time for representatives of all government and social organizations, city governments and businesses to sit down together and examine the topic of providing special incentives and support to business owners who wish to include employees with disabilities among their workforce. Israel Elwyn’s professional job placement staff are available to business owners, in order to assist them in successfully employing workers. Together, we can transform a crisis into an opportunity!
Now is the time for employers seeking workers to include employees with disabilities, who are able to work in a large array of positions, among their ranks. This is an opportunity for employers to open their doors and prove that preconceptions and obstacles are solely a direct result of lack of knowledge.
At the end of 2020, Israel Elwyn distributed the “Open-Door Employer” social badge to hundreds of businesses that employ people with disabilities. We hope that business owners will decide to hire new employees with disabilities, where needed along with government support and incentives. We truly hope to see the number of “Open-Door Employers” double in 2021.
Israel Elwyn has an open telephone line for employers to ask questions and receive more information about recruiting employees with disabilities: 02-6415448. Call us!
The writer is CEO, Israel Elwyn.