Hospitality Not a Friendly Industry for Disabled Workers: Study

TUESDAY Jan. 31, 2012 -- Many employers in the U.S. hospitality industry may be reluctant to hire people with disabilities due to preconceived ideas that they can't do the work and that they are more expensive to employ than non-disabled workers, a new study contends.

University of New Hampshire researchers analyzed data from 320 hospitality companies in the United States and found similar concerns related to the hiring of disabled people.

"We found prejudice, stereotyping, and limited choices in employment as employment barriers for people with disabilities, but the chief concern among those in this survey involved the bottom line," Andrew Houtenville, an associate professor of economics and research director of the UNH Institute on Disability, and Valentini Kalargyrou, an assistant professor of hospitality management, explained in a university news release.

Both are professors at the UNH Whittemore School of Business and Economics.

"The most frequently cited challenge or concern among hospitality and leisure companies is that the nature of the work is such that it cannot be effectively performed by people with disabilities, even though workplace accommodations are a tried-and-true method for addressing the nature of the work," the researchers noted.

"The cost of accommodation is the second most frequently cited challenge or concern, even among companies that are proactive in employing people with disabilities," the study authors said.

Other employment barriers cited by employers included the cost of workers' compensation, the nature of work, coworkers' attitudes, discomfort and unfamiliarity, and lack of knowledge about the capabilities of disabled people.

The study is published in the February issue of the journal Cornell Hospitality Quarterly.

Offering tax credits to offset additional costs and productivity gaps may encourage hospitality businesses to employ people with disabilities, the researchers suggested.

"In addition, disability awareness training is frequently cited as a useful tool to facilitate the employment of people with disabilities. Such training would address and correct misconceptions such as the concern that those with disabilities lack the appropriate competencies to be effective in their jobs, are less productive and are more accident-prone," Houtenville and Kalargyrou concluded.

More information

Disability.gov has more about disabled people and employment.

Posted: January 2012


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