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5 Reasons I Hire People With Chronic Illnesses — And Why I Think You Should, Too

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One of the biggest problems facing people with chronic illness across the globe can be the inability to work, keep steady employment or find a suitable career. This can perpetuate the cycle of poverty, as they may not be able to afford the medical and complementary therapies needed to get them back on their feet and well, which can leave them calling in sick and make them seem unreliable to employers, and so on it goes. But I think this needs to shift.

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I am a small business owner running my own nutrition clinic. I often require services such as graphic design and web design. In the future I will require a virtual assistant and possibly other remote services such as social media management. I go out of my way to hire people with chronic illness. And I think you should as well.

It actually makes business sense, and it can also make a big impact on someone’s life. Here’s why I take this approach to my hires.

1. They understand my passion and commitment to helping others.

If there is a single group of people who understand a commitment to helping others, whether it be through nutrition, social work, volunteering or any other caring profession, I believe this is it. People with chronic health issues often want to help others, because they themselves have required help.

I don’t have to explain why I do what I do — they just get it. As a business owner, having people who get it is far more powerful than someone with a perfect CV and reputation but an apathy towards my projects and goals.

2. They can be some of the hardest workers out there.

Every single person I know with an ongoing health problem works incredibly hard. They have to, just to stay competitive within the job industry. They give 110 percent to make up for the days when they can’t and to show they are valuable employees. They will often work through things like mild colds — but on the other hand, they will also know when to stop and take time for self-care and pace themselves, which means the work they produce for me can be of a higher quality.

3. They are understanding of my own health issues.

When I have a bad day, or my shoulder dislocates and I can’t type for a couple of days, they completely get it. They don’t complain that I said I would email them yesterday with the work details, or the article that needs publishing, or the outline for my new website. There’s no judgment, no thinking that I should pull myself together (literally) as a business owner and get on with it. There is just true understanding and a genuine wish that I recover quickly. So if you want a hire that is flexible and accepting when you have time off with the flu, look no further.

4. They value their job and income.

These wonderful workers don’t turn up to work with a chip on their shoulder. They don’t work with an attitude of “I’m only doing this because I have to.” They are not selling their services just because they need a payday. They often value the opportunity to work, because it may not have always been easy or possible for them to do so. It can give them purpose and keep the sadness of just passing the days at bay. I feel they truly value their income because it makes a huge difference to their everyday lives. And all of this can filter through into the quality of their work.

5. Employing people with chronic health issues supports my passion and truth.

My entire mission as a nutritionist is to help empower people with chronic illness to live thriving, inspiring lives. By employing those very people, I am walking the talk of my business and allowing them to take the baby steps needed for them to design the life they desire.

I have hired a wonderful web designer who also has Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, and I have had nothing but shared passion and enthusiasm from the experience. We even compare injuries sometimes! I will continue to hire from within the chronic community, because honestly, I feel they are the best people for the job.

So the next time you need an assistant, designer or any other position filled, maybe you should consider reaching out to someone who is passionate, hard-working and grateful for the chance.

Follow this journey on Sage Therapies.

Originally published: March 8, 2016
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