For many years, agencies have advocated for supported employment as a fundamental part of an individual’s path to autonomy. Supported employment has been shown to enhance an individual’s connection to their community, while also positively impacting a company’s growth. However, the pandemic has led to disruptions in many organizations that employ individuals with disabilities. As people begin to return to work in some areas of the country, there needs to be a re-evaluation of how to do so safely. While many workers in the US have shifted to remote work, this change has created concerns about who may be excluded from the transition. In particular, remote work leaves out individuals with disabilities who are essential workers, who must work in-person, or who cannot access the internet.
For agencies continuing to provide supported employment services or are re-opening this service line, fostering a strong network of relationships with employers in the community is a key component of ensuring a positive, safe employment experience for the individuals they serve. If local businesses are seemingly reluctant to employ individuals with disabilities, awareness of the many benefits of supported employment can help change the conversation.
Diversity of Thought
Diversity among employees leads to greater creativity and better problem-solving, as well as more inclusive products. Employing individuals of varying abilities allows businesses to include a diverse range of people in decision-making, design, and production — ensuring that businesses will create products and services that meet the needs of all people.
Supported employment has been proven to help businesses garner greater community support. Consumers are increasingly looking to make purchases from businesses that have been active in creating meaningful change in their communities. Participating in a supported employment program can be a long-term, sustainable way to create positive change in a community.
Creativity and Collaboration
Inclusive workplaces make the work environment better for everyone. Studies have shown that working alongside diverse individuals fosters greater collaboration, productivity, and happiness. According to an Accenture report in conjunction with Disability:IN, fostering a robust disabilities employment program can reduce turnover rates by up to 30% for the whole organization.
Support from Agencies
Many businesses may be unaware of the support that they can receive from agencies providing supported employment services. Many agencies offer training, ongoing support, career coaching, and job development to the individuals they serve. In the past few months, many agencies have modified their employment services to continue supporting individuals remotely.
There are numerous benefits of supported employment for both individuals and the businesses that employ them. Fostering strong partnerships with employers in the area will help agencies ensure the most safe, meaningful experience possible for the people they serve.