Employer benefits from making workplace accommodations

Tatiana I. Solovieva, Ed.D., Denetta L. Dowler, Ed.D., Richard T. Walls, Ph.D.

International Center for Disability Information, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV

Published Online: April 26, 2010

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.dhjo.2010.03.001

Background: This study explored workplace disability accommodations and their benefits. The participants were employers and human resource professionals who had not used the services of the Job Accommodation Network (JAN). The companies included large businesses (more than 499 employees) and small businesses (fewer than 500 employees).

Objective/Hypothesis: The intent of this investigation was to assess the disability accommodations and benefits for the employers.

Methods: The study used responses to online survey from194 employers to discuss disability-related accommodations for an employee or potential employee. The survey included 128 employers who reported having had a person with a disability who requested an accommodation.

Results: As reported by the employers, the most frequently mentioned direct benefits from implementing workplace accommodations were (a) retained a qualified employee, (b) increased worker productivity, and (c) eliminated the cost of training a new employee. The most frequently mentioned indirect benefits from accommodations were (a) improved interactions with coworkers, (b) increased overall company morale, and (c) increased overall company productivity. The most frequently reported types of implemented accommodations were buying equipment and changing work schedules. Most of the respondents estimated the direct benefits of having made an accommodation at more than $1000.

Conclusions: The findings heighten awareness of benefits associated with making accommodations for people with disabilities in the workplace. These benefits signify value for business, coworkers, and individuals with disabilities for whom accommodations are critical for successful employment.