Article Details

Research Database: Article Details

Citation:  Fraser, R., Ajzen, I., Johnson, K., Hebert, J., & Chan, F. (2011). Understanding employers' hiring intention in relation to qualified workers with disabilities. Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, 35 (1), 1-11.
Title:  Understanding employers' hiring intention in relation to qualified workers with disabilities
Authors:  Fraser, R., Ajzen, I., Johnson, K., Hebert, J., & Chan, F.
Year:  2011
Journal/Publication:  Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation
Publisher:  IOS Press
Full text:   
Peer-reviewed?  Yes
NIDILRR-funded?  Yes

Structured abstract:

Background:  Individuals with disabilities have higher unemployment rates than those without disabilities. In addition, employment status appears to be negatively impacted by the economic recession. A focus on understanding the demand side or employer concerns about workers with disabilities may improve the hiring and retention of workers with disabilities. A number of studies have been funded to better understand employer demand side concerns. One survey study revealed different concerns and themes among employers depending on the size of the business. The framework utilized was the Theory of Planned Behavior, a clinically based conceptual framework that has been useful for identifying determinants of many different kinds of behavior. The use of the model to predict behavior in the rehabilitation research has increased.
Purpose:  The aim of this study was to look at the intentions of employers to reach out to workers with disabilities as part of their recruitment activity. According to the Theory of Planned Behavior, the intention to engage in this behavior should increase to the extent that attitudes towards the behavior are favorable, important others perceive to be supportive of it and perceived control over its performance is high. In alignment with the tenets of the Theory of Planned Behavior model, the researchers hypothesized that in a multiple regression model, attitude, subjective norm and perceived control predict intention to engage in hiring outreach behavior towards qualified workers with disabilities, within six months of response to the survey. The study also examined the underpinnings of behavioral, normative, and control beliefs.
Setting:  The surveys took place in Seattle and Portland Washington.
Study sample:  A convenience sample of 92 members were enlisted from the Seattle and Portland area Rotary Club and the human resources group within the Seattle Chamber of Commerce. Over half or 60% of the sample were female, 75% were over the age of 35 and 78% were college graduates. The business sectors represented varied, with a significant percentage in finance (25.6%). Manufacturing companies were underrepresented. Forty percent of the respondents were human resources specialists, with almost a third at a senior management level. Around, 60% of the respondents had direct hiring authority and activity. Two thirds had experience in working with individuals with disabilities. Less than half had received training about the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Intervention:  There was no intervention.
Control or comparison condition:  There was no control or comparison condition.
Data collection and analysis:  The survey was developed using a number of steps. Initial items were developed using an employment disability outreach elicitation survey administered to the Business Advisory Council at the University of Washington Project with Industry. Next a research firm took the initial items generated, rated them, discussed concerns, and refined those via semi-structured focus groups with business owners, human resources representatives representing small, medium and large businesses in the Puget Sound area. The randomly assigned focus groups further refined and qualitatively reviewed the items from the elicitation survey. There was natural categorization of the data according to the Theory of Planned Behavior so formal coding did not take place. Two of the researchers reviewed frequency rating of initial items and subsequent statements to develop items for each category. The survey included direct measures of attitudes, subjective norms, perceptions of behavioral control, and intentions as well as measures of behavioral, normative, and control beliefs. Means, standard deviations, and bivariate correlations were calculated. Linear regression analyses,T-tests and ANOVAs were also used.
Findings:  There were a number of behavioral beliefs that correlated significantly with intention. These included beliefs that hiring workers with disabilities would improve the company's workforce, provide loyal and appreciative employees, and increase its diversity profile. Other strong association were associated with the company's bottom line concerns and avoiding potential litigation. On the down side, was the belief that outreach to qualified workers with disabilities would result in increase cost or loss of revenue. Senior ownership, management, hiring level mangers, Human resource personnel, and coworkers were all major influences in relation to the intended hiring behavior. Influences within the company culture seem to be very important. Two of the control beliefs; knowing whom to contact in vocational rehabilitation for hiring and consistent contact from a centralized rehab agency were related to personal control. Two other control beliefs, related to receiving communication from senior management or human resources about hiring and benefits like tax credits or other hiring incentives. There was a significant effect on intentions of having prior training on accommodations for human resources and line managers. If senior management was not viewed as committed to this effort, there was a significant negative effect on hiring intentions. Comparison of companies by size and in their history of employing workers with disabilities in terms of the Theory of Planned Behavior constructs revealed few significant differences. Related to control beliefs employees in small companies held more negative control beliefs than employees in large companies. Those in middle size companies fell between the two. In summary, the Theory of Planned Behavior, successfully predicted intentions to engage in outreach activities to hire qualified employees with disabilities. Attitude and perceived behavioral control made significant contributions to the prediction, subjective norms were found to be the most important.
Conclusions:  Vocational rehabilitation entities need to target marketing and educational efforts to senior and middle line management. Marketing and educational efforts should be tailored to the size of a company. Companies of all sizes reported concerns about the efficacy and efficiency of contact with vocational rehabilitation. If the effort is made to reach the hiring gate keepers of business, there needs to be marketing staff and workers with disabilities in a database in order to implement a relationship.