Employment numbers for individuals with disabilities have not only recovered to pre-pandemic levels, but exceeded those benchmarks and even pre-Great Recession levels, according to a Jan. 23 report.
That finding stands in stark contrast to employment numbers for individuals without disabilities, which have not yet reached pre-pandemic levels, according to the report from the Kessler Foundation and the University of New Hampshire’s Institute on Disability.
The cause may be twofold, the organizations said. First, labor shortages may have driven hiring managers “to break outside of their comfort zones to consider different segments of workers,” said report co-author John O'Neill, director of the Center for Employment and Disability Research at the Kessler Foundation, in a press release announcing the findings.
Additionally, the increase in work-from-home arrangements and greater flexibility in work hours seen during the height of the pandemic may have permanently opened new employment opportunities for people with disabilities, said co-author Andrew Houtenville, professor of economics and research director at the UNH-IOD, in a statement.
How can HR work to maintain those gains for workers with disabilities? Diversity, inclusion and belonging efforts can be applied in recruiting, hiring and elsewhere in the employment life cycle, sources previously told HR Dive. A central fund for accommodations also is crucial for supervisors, Kessler and UNH-IOD said. Finally, collaboration with workers, vocational rehabilitation professionals and other stakeholders “will help continue the momentum and keep us on course,” O’Neill added.