Presents the findings of a national survey of more than 3,000 supervisors working for organizations employing at least 25 people regarding the effectiveness of recruitment, hiring, training, and retention practices for employees with and without disabilities.   

The authors “conducted the 2017 National Employment and Disability Survey: Supervisor Perspectives (KFNEDS:SP) to identify the practices used by employers to increase the employment of people with disabilities and to understand supervisors’ views about the effectiveness of these practices” (p.6).

“The innovative design of the 2017 KFNEDS:SP focused on identifying effective processes and practices that employers use to employ people with disabilities. This design asked if the organization used a practice, and if so, whether it was effective, and then, whether the practice was as effective with regard to people with disabilities. The design also delved inside organizational perspectives about employing people with disabilities—asking supervisors about the commitment of upper management relative to their own perspectives.

The 2017 KFNEDS:SP, conducted by the University of New Hampshire (UNH),

  • addressed challenges common to employer-focused research by surveying supervisors on their own time, rather than while they are at work, allowing them to maintain their organizations’ anonymity, their personal anonymity, and avoiding pressure to respond in ‘socially desirable’ ways, and
  • generated actionable information to support the adoption of promising practices across the country in order to positively influence employment outcomes for Americans with disabilities” (p.3).

“Methods. The 2017 KFNEDS:SP was conducted using standard, replicable survey practices….More than 5,000 respondents (n = 5,231) ages 18 and older consented to participate….The final analytic sample was 3,085 supervisors ages 18 and older working in the U.S. for organizations that employed 25 people or more…” (p.4).

“The 2017 KFNEDS:SP is the first national survey to look at the effectiveness of the practices that employers use to recruit, hire, train, and retain people with disabilities in their organizations, from the unique perspective of supervisors of employees with and without disabilities. The results offer important new information for employers, policymakers, legislators, and the disability community” (p.24).

(Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)

Major Findings & Recommendations

The study “highlights the major findings of the 2017 KFNEDS:SP” (p.5), which “show that employers are striving to recruit, hire, train, and retain people with disabilities in their organizations” (p.3). Commitment of Upper Management “[T]he importance supervisors give to hiring people with disabilities…mirrors their perception of upper management’s commitment to hiring people with disabilities….In contrast, supervisors attach much more importance to helping employees with disabilities learn their jobs [than upper management do]….[T]hese results suggest that, while many in an organization may support the goal of hiring people with disabilities, when it comes to the details of realizing that goal, there may be less commitment and support than needed from upper management” (p.4). Organizational Processes “[M]ost supervisors…report that their organizations have established processes for recruiting and training employees…but fewer…feel that this recruiting process is as effective for recruiting employees with disabilities. Supervisors also suggest that organizations spend considerably less effort recruiting people with disabilities…. [Eighty-six percent of] organizations…have a process to help new employees learn their jobs…but fewer (73 percent) feel that process is as effective for employees with disabilities….Many employers…also have a process to provide requested accommodations to employees with disabilities. Nearly all supervisors…believe the process is effective, suggesting an opportunity to provide support for the 34 percent of organizations who would benefit by having an accommodation process in place. Few organizations (16 percent) have a centralized accommodations fund, but when they do, most supervisors…feel it is effective at improving their ability to provide requested accommodations to employees” (p.4-5). Specific Employer Practices “Findings from the 2017 KFNEDS:SP also suggest several opportunities to engage employers about specific practices that supervisors find effective for improving their ability to employ or accommodate people with disabilities. Some practices are both widespread and effective [including job shadowing and onsite training by supervisors and co-workers]….Other practices [such as job sharing] are used by relatively few employers, but many supervisors who do use them also find them as effective for employees both with and without disabilities” (p.5). (Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)