Don’t tell me a secret – I am hopeless at keeping them!
However, there’s one secret that, despite my best intentions seems still to avoid common knowledge.
The secret is just how good and how effective people that have a disability can be in their employment.
And, as you’ll see, the fact that this truth is still hidden from many employers is not for lack of publicity.
But first the problem to which my secret seems an obvious solution – finding and keeping good staff.
There is no single bigger headache for any employer than finding and keeping good staff and managing the day to day matters of human resource management. Good staff are the difference between success and failure.
There is a labour and skill shortage in Australia and so you’d think employers would quickly turn to the 720,000 people that receive the disability support pension as a potential pool of talent.
That’s not always so.
We have a historical problem in Australia and I think it stems from the fact that we used to call people that have a disability, ‘invalids’.
We said it very quickly so that it didn’t sound like in-valid, because we all know that that word means worthless and, so that no-one felt bad, we tried to make ‘invalid’ (said really fast) sound somehow noble, or at least worthy of pity.
What we didn’t do was suggest that here were a group of people who, while they maybe could never do certain parts of a role (the blind make poor drivers), nevertheless possessed specific talent and ability as good as, or better than, anyone else.
The problem with treating anyone like they are made of glass, or in some other way at risk, is that once the whole group have been made objects of pity or seen as the realm of charity, it’s very difficult to suddenly decide you have a valuable resource that can be mined for profit.
Now, before anyone leaps to accuse me of exploitation, the fact of employment is simple: you make me more than you cost and you get to stick around, you don’t and you have to leave – that’s that, that’s all there is to it and sorry if you don’t agree.
NOVA employs many people that have a disability and they are amongst our best workers and, that said, I have sadly had to let people with disability go (that’s an Australian term for ‘fired’), just the same as their non-disabled peers.
However, recent research suggests the emotional angst created by the thought of how to handle a person who has a disability should their performance be below par, is a reason some employers are reluctant to hire.
Other reasons include fears of increased workers compensation costs (its compulsory in Australia for employers to contribute to a National insurance scheme for all employees and the cost of a businesses contribution is assessed against the perceived risk of the industry – all builders as opposed to an individual firm - and the organizations history of claims).
Statistics show people who have a disability are no more or less likely that their non-disabled peers to have an accident that requires workers compensation.
In fact people with a disability are just like any other employee; there are some crackers and occasionally, you’ll have a mismatch between worker ability and worker aspiration.
However, the truth of the ability and talent available to employers amongst NOVA’s job seekers is still a secret that even a blabbermouth like me just can’t make common knowledge*.
We have advertising on TV, radio, billboards, newspapers – maybe we need one of those skywriting planes – there’s been novelty advertising, our pie-bags, coffee cups – pretty much anyway you can think of to showcase the talent we have on offer and still there’s a gap between our talent and an appropriate level of demand.
So, if you have any ideas how we might promote our talent, let me know, there are contact us spots all over this website or give me a call at NOVA.
In the meantime I have a new idea – so keep watching this space.
* If you want to read some more about how much skill our job seekers have click on the EZine link on our Home Page
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