Friday, February 20, 2009

Worthy Disabilities!-Recruitment and Retention

Disability has no bearing on individual competence and talent , hence exploring this latent talent pool can make the difference between corporate success and failure...

Key learnings:

  • Disability recruitment is an effective talent- recruiting strategy. The threats of dwindling performance or escalating costs are irrelevant
  • Reverse recruiting is a logical step towards disability recruitment and hence recruiters have to make a deliberate attempt at it.

Talent is oblivious to caste, creed, gender or state of physical well-being. Hence, it is omnipresent. Because it is not in the traditional "pool" can deprive organisations of the huge talent lying in seemingly less promising pockets.

The disabled section of the worker population represents one such pocket of talent that rarely attracts the attention of talent- seekers. Most talent managers do not even consider the disabled population of workers as a potential source of talent. Therefore a very significant chunk of talent remains underutilised. Increasing evidence on the subject indicates that people with disabilities can be as effective as their physically fit colleagues. Disabilities are extremely job-specific and do not hold universal relevance.

In defence

The case of Northrop Grumman, a Los Angeles-based defence contractor, demonstrates how organisations can benefit from the disabled. Northrop, like other companies did not have a disability recruitment programme . The initiative took off when Karen Stang, an employee at Northrop, recommended a friend's son for a job. His gesture to help a friend's son injured in war proved to be a milestone for the company's employer proposition. The company appreciated Stang's concern and launched "Operation Impact". The initiative was aimed at employing war -wounded soldiers as the company catered catered to the clothing needs of the armed forces. From its initial placement agenda for disabled soldiers, Operation Impact has expanded its horizon and is now seeking disabled workers from all quarters. This has served both the philanthropic as well as the business needs of the organisation.

Northrop Grumman has set an example for other corporates to follow. Stalwarts like General Electric Co and Raytheon Co. have incorporated disability recruitment in corporate recrfuiting strategy. According to Mathew Ross, the human resources chief at XL4 Software Solutions, organisations are on a constant lookout for new and unexplored talent pools. And the disabled segment of worker population remains fairly unexposed . Thus, organisations have to broaden their horizon and take a more open view of bolstering their staff by integrating the unfortunate but extremely talented pool of disabled workers.

It is rather astonishing to see that even the world's most progressive economy. the US, reports an unemployment rate as high as 65 percent among its disabled population. This apart, a survey of employers across the globe revealed that only two percent of the surveyed population mentioned "disabled population" in the category of groups pertaining to the "equal opportunity" rights. The level of awareness and empathy is rather dismal. Therefore organisations have to work towards clearing the misconceptions that people hold about the disabled and treat them like any other source of talent.

A corporate treasure

A survey of employers employing a significant chunk of disabled worker population has shown that the performance output of these workers is the same or better than that of their physically fit colleagues. The issue of inferior performance is a mere hallucination Apart from performance concerns, a few employers also believe that accommodating workers with disabilities can prove to be more expensive for employers. The cost factor, experts say. is a mindset since it does not in effect cost much to accommodate employee disabilities. Employees with disabilities seldom need assistance at the work place. It is only in the case of certain exceptional disabilities or work requirements that call for special provisions on the part of the employer. Hence, both cost and performance concerns hold little relevance in the context of disability recruitment.

For organisations that are pursuing the cause of disability recruitment the concept of "reverse recruitment" is becoming increasingly popular. The term underscores the need to work backwards on the job-talent graph. Typically recruiting managers have a job in mind with a clear set of skills and competencies that are specific to the given job . This job sketch is then used to recruit talent . However in the case of disability recruitment, the job and skills take a backseat and recruiting managers look for a job based on the skills available to them. While the concept of reverse recruiting makes the job more challenging for recruiters as the pressure to recruit "a given skill set " is huge , the task is not as daunting as it sounds. Recruiters need to educate themselves about the need to integrate the disabled worker population into the mainstream and work towards achieving the same.

Disability recruitment needs concerted and well-intended effort on the part of employers. The task is gravely challenging and therefore may be self-limiting in case of small organisations. However, seeking external help from consultants can prove to be a profitable proposition for organisations seeking talent.

Ref: TheManageMentor.

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