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Similarities in Perceptions about the Competence and Performance of Workers with Disabilities and Older Workers

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In the today’s society, people tend to hold a perception that people with disabilities do not perform their jobs reasonably. This perception has rendered underrepresentation of the people with disabilities in the employment sector. In their 2010 study, Snyder and colleagues found that 72.4 percent of the working population held perceptions that disabled people perform poorly in their places of work. They associate their poor performance with inability to work and walk fast as well as frequent lateness. In fact, those with other forms of disability apart for physical disability are perceived to be more poor performers in their places of work (Snyder, et al., 2010). In addition, they are perceived to be incompetent even when they posses the right skills for performing a given job. In many cases, people associate incidents of accidents, absenteeism, and high turnover with the disabled people. However, this is not actually the case. In addition, managers and supervisors carry these perceptions during interviews and job appraisals. They tend to score disabled people lowly, thus making it difficult for them to secure employments, promotions, or pay rises.

Similarly, older employees are perceived incompetence and poor performers. This is because old age is associated with decreased cognitive abilities such as “low information processing speed and working memory capacity” (Griffiths, 2000, p.474). According to Griffiths, older employees perform effectively just like the younger employees (2000). However, their colleagues usually have a perception that they are ineffective due to their levels of cognitive abilities. For this reason, older employees are rated lower during interviews and job appraisals compared to the younger employees. Just like the disabled people, this makes it difficult for older employees to secure new employments, promotions, or pay rises.

Both the disabled and old workers are perceived incompetent and non-performers in their places of work. Incompetence and poor performance of disabled people are attributed to the limitations of their capacity to conduct routine activities normally, while those of the old workers are attributed to their low cognitive abilities. However, evidence indicates that both the disabled and old workers are competent and effective performers just like their co-workers.

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