New Year, New Opportunity for Businesses and Disability Employment

Now's the time to diversify your workforce...

Coming into the New Year you might be working with your executive on recruiting new team members. As an EA it’s important you consider all candidates fairly and think about the way diverse employees could help strengthen your team.

2021 provides a unique opportunity for businesses to rebuild even stronger workforces by recruiting
employees with disability. According to Australian Bureau of Statistics figures, approximately 1
million Australians were unemployed at the peak of the pandemic in 2020. Today, this figure has
dropped to 952,100, paired with the fact that job advertisements have increased month on month
since April 2020, with job advertisements now exceeding pre-COVID levels, it is beginning to show
that businesses are starting to rebuild. As they do, it’s important that disability inclusion is central to
these renewed workforces.

“Australians living with disability have often been overlooked in recruitment, with a 48%
employment rate compared to 80% of the general public,” says Steve Carder, General Manager DES
of leading Disability Employment Service, atWork Australia. “This is a missed opportunity as these
workers have proven to be hugely beneficial to businesses’ productivity, staff turnover and bottom

“Hiring a person with disability shouldn’t be seen as an issue to be overcome, but an opportunity to
build stronger teams,” says Steve. “It’s well documented that employees with disability generate less
turnover and a superior attendance over their peers.”

These benefits are echoed in other research, including a 2018 US study, which showed that businesses were four times as likely to outperform their competitors’ shareholder returns if they prioritised the inclusion of those living with disability. These businesses achieved an average of 28% higher revenue, 30% higher profit margins and double the net income. Additionally, the average company that employs people with disability see staff retention go up by 90%, which allows them to focus on their business and not ‘revolving door’ recruitment.

While 2020 has been devastating for many industries, jobs that are suited to many people with
disability, injury or health conditions rose, says Steve. “During January to August, we saw more
warehousing, factory work and delivery services roles become available, which are ideal for many of
our clients who often need a first role to kick-start or re-start their CVs. These and similar industries
in particular, have a huge opportunity to benefit from the existing disability talent pool.

“Government funded Disability Employment Services offer businesses a range of provisions that go
far beyond the main reasons companies engage recruitment services. Each placement is assisted by
a Post Placement Support Coordinator who works with the employee and employers during the first
year to ensure all needs are met, setting the foundation for long-term employment. Additionally, if
eligible, companies can access workplace adjustments to accommodate someone with a disability.”
Financial support for businesses in accommodating people with disability will become particularly
important in March, as JobKeeper payments come to a close and employers reassess their

“As we enter 2021, it’s imperative that we continue to look forward with an optimistic caution,” says
Steve. “Businesses we are speaking to are struggling with employee wellbeing as well as recruiting
and retaining staff. As JobKeeper comes to an end, employment insecurity and fear of redundancies
is set to increase mental health conditions, one of Australia’s leading forms of invisible disability.
This is set to make workplace experts who understand disability, such as Disability Employment
Providers, an essential form of support in recruitment.”

Tools like atWork Australia’s Disability Awareness Training, empower businesses to build a more
accessible and inclusive workplace and confidently support their employees with disability. It
provides employers with practical tools and strategies to gain a deeper understanding of how to
attract, recruit, and support a diverse workforce. The cost-free sessions include an interactive Q&A
webinar, and cover topics such as enhancing awareness and knowledge of disability, challenging
attitudes, gaining practical tools and strategies to make the workplace accessible to all.