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Employing the Handicapped

This information is a brief review of my experience as a manager of employing handicapped in the workplace. Hiring handicapped people in the work place is obviously the right thing to do from a society standpoint but is there real benefits in hiring those people who do not have full physical capabilities.

I managed a large factory for a large multinational company in Malaysia in the 90’s. I had many challenges but one was the limited number of people available for employment. We became very innovative in hiring people and incentivized our current employees to help us find employees who were capable and reliable. A new idea surfaced within our employee ranks and that was a suggestion that we hire handicapped people. I was initially skeptical of the idea but was willing to try it.

We initially hired 25 handicapped employees in one of our very manual operations. We did do more training that we typically did but the results were outstanding. Here is what we learned. The handicap staff had the best attendance record of any employee group. The speed of learning was remarkable and our supervisor who were also initially skeptical commented that based on their performance and ease in learning we should hire more. The overall employee morale in the plant was improved as seen in our small group meetings that we typically had with our employees.

Based on our good experience we hired more and over a two year period we had 150 handicapped employees on staff. In one of our annual dinners we had with all of our employees we celebrated a special wedding of two of our handicapped employees who had met based on being employed by our company. It is hard to put a value on that but my opinion is that the hiring of handicapped employees did a lot for the plant operation and efficiency, attendance and overall performance was improved.

Another interesting benefit received was that the Malaysian government recognized our plant for having the largest number of handicapped employees in all of Malaysia. They gave us a trophy that we proudly displayed in our plant lobby.

In summary I have to say that it was a good experience and recommend that other companies take the first step of hiring handicapped employees recognizing that there will be some initial changes in the work place needed to make this work. There are real measurable benefits in attendance, performance and company morale in hiring the handicapped

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