Recruiting, Hiring, and Retaining Individuals with Disabilities and Veterans—the Real Benefits to Your Company

 

By: Cindy Karrow of Berkshire Associates

I am frequently asked for examples of the benefits derived by companies who hire Individuals with Disabilities (IWD) and Veterans. Often this question comes from an Affirmative Action Planning (AAP) Manager who is looking for support from staffing representatives, hiring managers, and/or executives for their company’s outreach and recruitment activities. This support may take the form of budget dollars—at job fairs or time spent searching for the best recruitment sources online. Everyone wants to know what the benefits are going to be—what is the return on this investment? This article will explore some of the benefits.

Why should you recruit IWD and Veterans? Most employers are looking for the best talent to make their organizations successful. This usually means jobs are being posted everywhere possible—job boards, state job service websites, career pages, and social media (LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter). Some organizations are paying third parties to handle the heavy lifting of posting, interviewing, and making recommendations on who to select. Regardless of the methods, your company is out there looking for and competing with other companies for talent.

If you are a federal contractor or subcontractor, one of the primary reasons to engage IWD and Veterans in your quest for talent is because it shows good faith toward fulfilling your obligations under the AAP regulations. There are other reasons as well—there is a large pool of qualified workers out there who are disabled and/or Veterans, it is good for your public image, there may be tax breaks, and it is good business.

There are a consistent set of skills most employers believe Veterans bring to the civilian workplace. Each of these translates to a desirable quality or skill that business leaders are looking for in employees:

  • Leadership
  • Teamwork
  • Diversity
  • Core values
  • Self-direction
  • Ability to meet deadlines and handle stress
  • Time management
  • Planning and organizing
  • Ability to conform to rules and structure
  • Strong organizational commitment
  • Ability to accomplish a mission with very little supervision
  • Adept at skills transfer from one task/project to another
  • Work harder, longer, and do not take as many sick days as non-Veterans
  • Resourcefulness
  • Resilience

 

Howard Schultz, Chairman and CEO of Starbucks, has this to say about commitment to hiring Veterans in a recent article in The Wall Street Journal:

Commitment means that the 99% of Americans who never served in the military must find more ways now to match the contribution that the uniformed 1% have made. Businesses can do this by hiring veterans. Starbucks and other companies have announced plans to hire thousands of veterans over the next few years. Citizens can do it by building more programs to help veterans apply their remarkable skill set—leadership, grace under pressure, teamwork under the most complex circumstances—to civic life.

Sometimes it is difficult to see what skills and abilities a Veteran brings to the table, because translating military experience, skills, and education into civilian job duties literally requires a translator. A quick Internet search will produce several military skills translators including some that employers have placed on their own career sites. Use the translation information to let Veterans know how they are qualified for your open jobs.

Learn more about recruitment, hiring, and retention of Veterans by starting with the CareerOneStop Business Center, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor. http://www.careeronestop.org/businesscenter/recruitandhire/wheretofindcandidates/hire-a-vet.aspx Or, download a publication from Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) entitled Support from Behind the Lines: 10 Steps to Becoming a Military-Ready Employer. http://www.shrm.org/TemplatesTools/Toolkits/Documents/12-0177%20Behind_the_Lines_Toolkit_FNL.pdf

Companies are motivated to recruit and hire IWD for similar reasons as cited above for recruiting and hiring Veterans. Additionally there are studies to suggest there may be a link to increased revenue potential for employing IWD. Here are two statistics from the National Survey of Consumer Attitudes towards Companies that Hire People with Disabilities http://www.worksupport.com/research/viewContent.cfm/637

  • 92% of the respondents felt more favorable toward companies that hire IWD
  • 87% agreed they would prefer to give their business to a company that hires IWD

There are some other benefits derived from recruiting, hiring, and retaining IWD:

  • Product improvement
  • Technology and service innovations
  • Increased access to buildings, parking, public areas
  • Expanded products and services
  • Tax incentives
  • Enhance shareholder value
  • Access to new markets

Some of these benefits may not seem readily apparent, however, social issues can turn into business opportunities. Consider what happened at Walgreens when it implemented accommodations for workers with disabilities. The end result was a new universal design that increased efficiency for its distribution centers in Anderson, S.C., and Windsor, Conn.

SunTrust Banks’ Mid-Atlantic Chairman, President and CEO CT Hill is quoted on the Employer Assistance and Resource website (askearn.org):

Hiring individuals with disabilities is, in fact, good for business.  The return on investment to SunTrust can be measured in several ways. One, it helps our diversity initiatives, building a strong workforce; two, it helps us to develop products and services, expanding our customer base; and three, it enables us to reach out to our entire community. It’s good for shareholders and it’s good for business. http://www.askearn.org/businesscase/roi_level2.asp

There are a wealth of organizations and websites that can provide assistance and guidance to employers, whether you are just beginning a campaign to recruit IWD, or your processes are well established.  A good place to begin is with the Employer Assistance and Resource website (askearn.org).  EARN is funded by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) under a cooperative agreement from the Viscardi Center. In addition to articles, notices, and references, you can read about other employers’ initiatives and success stories.

Berkshire Associates understands the importance of recruiting, hiring, and retaining IWD and Veterans. To learn more about these efforts, read the following article, “Top Talent Requirements are Met When You Hire a Vet.”

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