As a business owner, there are ways to tap into reserves of talent that are usually ignored. This can not only bring you into contact with fresh talent, but also some great tax breaks – allowing you to reduce you federal tax liability by up to $9,000 per new hire, and an additional $15,000 through other tax breaks . Any size for-profit employer may apply, there is no limit to the number of new hires or claims, and temporary, seasonal, part-time, and full-time work qualifies.
See where this is going? The savings can be huge.
- The Disabled Access Credit provides a non-refundable credit for small businesses that incur expenditures for the purpose of providing access to persons with disabilities.
- The Architectural Barrier Removal Tax Deduction encourages businesses of any size to remove architectural and transportation barriers to the mobility of persons with disabilities and the elderly. Businesses may claim a deduction of up to $15,000 a year for qualified expenses
- The Work Opportunity Credit (WOC) provides eligible employers with a tax credit up to 40 percent of the first $6,000 of first-year wages of a new, legally disabled employee. For disabled veterans, it is up to 40% of the first $12,000.
- Business Case for hiring disabled workers.
- The Job Accommodation Network is a free counseling and informational service for employers, educating them on having disabled workers in their company.
- The Minnesota Star Program helps employers obtain technology to help their disabled workers be even more efficient in the workplace.
The U.S. Census reports that disabled peoples represent $1 trillion dollars in discretionary spending. That makes them the largest minority market segment.
Of people with disabilities, 48% are principal shoppers, 58% own their own homes, and 73% are heads of households. There is a huge market to be tapped into.
How do you do that?
To begin with, mirror your target market. Hire disabled workers. Easy peasy.
Cisco CEO John Chambers figured this out. When Cisco Systems began hiring employees with disabilities, they recognized an additional benefit: improved interaction with the company’s clients, many of whom also had employees with disabilities.
But it doesn’t end there. You get the non-disabled side of the market, too. A recent poll by the University of Massachusetts found that 87% of Americans surveyed say they prefer to patronize businesses that hire people with disabilities.
See the potential?
Disabled workers see things from a different point of a view — and therefore innovation happens. Just ask Ludwig van Beethoven, Franklin Roosevelt, and Stephen Hawking.
Think about this:
- Technology used to improve wheelchairs led to the development of the Segway.
- Captioning developed to help people who are hard of hearing is now used in most public spaces — because we are all hard of hearing in a busy, noisy environment.
- Text messaging was used by deaf people long before the rest of us figured out its potential.
- Large screens used to help individuals with low vision are now a high-end product desired by everyone.
One of the companies to catch on to this early was Walgreens. They modified their distribution center’s supporting technology, making it easier for their employees with disabilities to use. What they soon discovered was that the changes simplified tasks for all employees, increasing productivity. (AskEarn.org).
We all get that it’s good to hold on to employees. After all, the costs of replacing employees range from 93 to 200% of an employee’s annual salary. We also get that sometimes letting go of an employee is not the recession’s fault — it’s the poor attendance of an employee.
Well, it turns out that anecdotal and survey research indicates that employees with disabilities may be less likely leave a company than their nondisabled counterparts.
A recent DePaul study of 314 employees across several industries indicates participants with disabilities had fewer scheduled absences than those without disabilities, and that all participants had nearly identical job performance ratings.
They’re not alone. Marriott found that employees hired through their Pathways to Independence Program experienced a 6% turnover rate versus the 52% turnover rate of their overall workforce.
Fortune magazine reported that after Carolina Fine Snacks, of Greensboro, NC, started hiring people with disabilities, employee turnover dropped from 80% every six months to less than 5%; productivity rose from 70% to 95%; absenteeism dropped from 20% to less than 5%; and tardiness dropped from 30% of staff to zero.
“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.”
CT Hill, Chairman, President, and CEO of SunTrust Banks Mid-Atlantic
Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC)
The WOTC comes by hiring from groups which traditionally have been under-employed, including:
- Recovered alcoholics and drug users
- Economically disadvantaged youth or young adults
- Welfare recipients
- Veterans (even if dishonorably discharged)
- Lack employment history
- 16-17 year-old youth who lives in an EZ, hired for the summer (May 1 and September 15)
For more information call 888-234-5521, e-mail deedwotcstatemnus (deedwotcstatemnus) , or visit the WOTC web page.
Nervous? You shouldn’t be.
First, The Minnesota Federal Bonding Service insures against theft of money or property (between$5,000-$25,000), so hiring from these groups is no risk. There are no forms papers to sign or forms to fill out. The bond is good as soon as the coordinator certifies the bond.
For more information call 800-345-2537 or visit Minnesota’s bonding web page.
Second, EMPLOY is a state employment agency for ex-offenders — which means the whole process can be state-regulated. The offenders already have job experience (average of 1-2 years), which is honed through state job and work training. The service is connects you with free, tax-credit earning skilled labor at absolutely no cost. And once on the job, the employee is supported by EMPLOY’s ongoing monitoring, mentoring and follow-up program.
The Background is the Benefit
Ex-offenders histories cause some employers concern. But what if we could harness their background for good?
Electronic Recyclers International is the largest electronic waste recycling company in North America, and has employed hundreds of ex-convicts in the past 20 years. So it seems ex-offenders have been good to them.
What do they say about ex-offenders’ histories?
1. “Their work ethic is bar none.” Because they appreciate the chance to have a job.
2. “They have great transferable skills.” You can harness that abilities that put them into to jail, and make them into dedicated, hardworking, skilled employees.
3. “Ex-offenders have turnover rates that are lower than the general population.” They know this could be their last chance, so they take is seriously.
“Financial benefits may push employers to hire ex-offenders, but it is the employees’ positive attitudes and strong work ethic that make them great workers. I’ve never had any problems where their attitude was bad. I’ve been happy with the results we’ve been getting.”
- Rodney Nekoba, Operations Manager. Hired more than 100 ex-offenders. (Pacific Business News)
“We’re very impressed with the scope of the [EMPLOY] program. We’ve hired a number of offenders during my career and worked with a few offenders in the foundry…we’ve found them to be responsible and better people than we can get off the street.”
- Tim Hartigan, President of St. Paul Brass & Aluminum Foundry (EMPLOY.COM)
At the End of the Day
Do you remember a day when you were shown grace?
Ultimately, these men are trying to start a new life.
Ultimately, you personally can make a difference.
Ultimately, the world is behind you.
65% of Americans are willing to switch to a brand associated with a good cause if price and quality are relatively equal, according to Tim Sanders in Saving the World at Work,
A 2007 McKinsey survey found that 95% of CEOs surveyed said that society now has higher expectations of business taking on public responsibilities than it did five years ago.
The resources are there to help you.
“Everyone can be great because everyone can serve.”
- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.