Photo: Steven Woo, employee of Vancouver Airport Authority, walking with friends and his assistance dog, Horatio.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Vancouver Airport Authority
What if there was a socially responsible way to fill staff vacancies, increase productivity, and reduce employee turnover? September is Disability Employment Month in BC, an opportune time to explore how the BC tourism industry can take steps to become more inclusive employers while helping to resolve chronic labour shortages.
In BC, approximately 334,000 people aged 15 to 64 years self-identify as having a disability. Hiring differently abled people can bring distinct advantages.
Low staff turnover
The Marriott International chain found a low 6% turnover among staff with disabilities compared to 52% in their overall workforce. A 2011 snapshot from Megleen Inc. (a Tim Hortons franchisee) showed low employee turnover for their 35 employees with disabilities—and no absenteeism. A 2007 DuPont study indicated that 90% of people with disabilities rated average or better on job performance. A Job Accommodation Network study also found that more than half of 1,100 employers of people with disabilities benefitted from increased overall company morale and productivity.
Research shows that hiring people with disabilities does not always involve extra costs to a business. One US study showed that 57% percent of the time, no extra investment is needed to make a workplace accessible. In the 37% of cases reporting a cost, the typical one-time expense was only $500.
Resources and next steps
Destination BC’s President and CEO Marsha Walden is one of 22 change-driven business leaders in BC who contribute to the President’s Group, an advisory committee to the provincial government that is working towards accessible, inclusive workforces. Find related stories and case studies here.
“Tourism is a creative and forward-thinking industry. Accommodating staff with disabilities can often require a dash of ingenuity and a few simple steps. For example, one luxury hotel down East places notes in their rooms to alert guests that a cleaner is deaf, then directs them to the front desk if they need help communicating,” says Destination BC’s Marsha Walden.
There are many programs available to help employers become more accessible, such as the Technology@Work Program, which provides assistive technology through the Neil Squire Society or the Open Door Group, which helps employers make their workplaces more diverse free of charge. Learn More here.
Go2Hr also has many resources:
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