How Hiring People with Disabilities Strengthens a Workplace

The above picture is of a woman in a wheelchair at a desk high-fiving a male coworker.

How Hiring People with Disabilities Strengthens a Workplace

More companies have sought to employ people with disabilities to increase workplace diversity and inclusion. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 21.3% of people with disabilities got hired in 2022 — a 2.2% year-over-year increase.


Although the upward trend is a significant indicator of progress, a mere 20% of employees with disabilities feel supported at work, while 76% choose not to disclose their disability. Hiring this subcategory of employees is one thing, but ensuring they have the resources, training, respect and safety to thrive in their roles is another.


A lingering ideology is that a disability hinders job performance and productivity. Yet, the importance of employment for persons with disabilities is as beneficial for the individual as it is for the organization. Here is how hiring people with disabilities helps strengthen the workplace.

Importance of Employment for Persons With Disabilities

Whether someone has a disability or not, working gives people a sense of purpose. The impact is even more significant for individuals facing physical or cognitive challenges. According to the Institute of Disability’s 2020 Annual Disability Statistics Compendium, the poverty rate is 25.9% for Americans with disabilities between 18 and 64.


Providing jobs for people with disabilities improves self-worth, ensures a sense of belonging within the community and safeguards individuals against homelessness and health problems. For instance, large corporations usually offer commuter benefits and coordinate medical and dental packages to lower health care costs. They also stay abreast of labor laws and regulations to ensure equal opportunities. For those with disabilities, these benefits are life-saving.

People With Disabilities Improve Workplaces

Despite being widely underrepresented at work, hiring people with disabilities also has surprising benefits for companies. A disabled workforce improves company culture by diversifying teams and increasing inclusivity.


Employers are also eligible for tax credits when they provide jobs for people with disabilities. For instance, the Internal Revenue Service and Department of Labor issues the Work Opportunity Tax Credit to 10 targeted groups of people who begin working on or before December 31, 2025.


Individuals with a disability must be employed for less than a year, fall under one of the targeted groups and work at least 400 hours. The credit provides 40% of up to $6,000 in pay or about $2,400. Companies that employ people between 120 and 400 hours may be eligible for a 25% rate.


Additional company benefits of hiring people with disabilities include the following:


     Broader talent pool with higher retention rates

     Greater job satisfaction among employees

     The ability to better understand and serve others with disabilities

     More varied workplace perspectives and problem-solving

     Increased productivity


One study found that when Walgreens opened a distribution center and hired 800 workers with disabilities, productivity was 20% higher than in centers with non-disabled individuals.

Creating Jobs for People With Disabilities

Organizations can maximize a more diverse workforce by creating jobs for people with disabilities, meaning they must broaden accessibility to positions. The COVID-19 pandemic imposed challenges as companies transitioned to work-from-home — however, the remote culture has been crucial for people with disabilities. Those who cannot leave their residences due to varying conditions or require special equipment and aids can care for their needs in the safety of their homes while working a job.


Employers interested in hiring people with disabilities should first consider their current branding. Do job postings destigmatize hiring talent with disabilities? Does the company website describe people with disabilities as valuable assets? Of course, taking a “valued” approach to corporate inclusion is crucial over charitable perspectives.


Additionally, employers should evaluate whether they provide enough support for employees with disabilities. What accommodations and resources are readily available? Is there already a team of individuals with disabilities working for the company? Are there hybrid or remote work opportunities for prospective workers with personal challenges? Future team members want to know they are welcome and safe at work with an equal opportunity to thrive, regardless of ability.

The Formula for a Diverse Workforce

Hiring people with disabilities is the key to creating a more inclusive, diverse workforce. Companies and individual employees benefit from working alongside people with disabilities, from broadening the talent pool to productivity to job satisfaction. Employers should seek ways to attract and retain employees with disabilities to close the unemployment gap further.