Competition for qualified special needs candidates is growing as more companies are creating and executing workforce inclusion strategies to tap this pool of talent.

"We need to stop looking at what makes somebody different and look at how to include them," says Meg O'Connell, a Managing Partner at Global Disability Inclusion. According to the Department of Labor, there are 56 million Americans with disabilities, and 33 million are between the ages of 16 and 64. More importantly, they can become some of your best employees.

Here are six reasons you should add implement an inclusive workforce strategy now:

  1. You can expect results. A recent three-year study found the performances of employees with disabilities were equal to or better than those of employees without disabilities.

  2. Disability doesn't mean more sick days. Managers in the study said 85 percent of workers with disabilities had the same level of absenteeism or less than that of workers without disabilities.

  3. Safety is still first. In the study, workers with disabilities had 34 percent fewer incidents, and the costs related to safety incidents were 67 percent lower.

  4. Expect loyalty. In a 2010 Kessler/Harris/NOD, a third of all managers said they viewed employees with disabilities as more dedicated and less likely to leave their positions. "Many of the disabled have not had a lot of opportunities to enter the workforce, so they tend to be more dedicated when given an opportunity," O'Connell explains.

  5. All employees get a boost. By including employees with disabilities, companies often see changes in overall company morale. "There's a cultural shift to be more supportive and accepting when people with disabilities come into the workforce," O'Connell says. "It's a win-win for everybody."

  6. It's just good business. Companies can access tax advantages, but may find appealing to the disabled community is also a business driver. "The disabled represent a $225 billion market opportunity," O'Connell says. "They buy cars and toothpaste and clothes, so marketing and advertising campaigns are a way to get a piece of that consumer market."