Approximately 1 billion individuals worldwide are believed to be living with some form of disability.
As a result, it is paramount for businesses to ensure that their recruitment processes are inclusive to all, preventing any form of discrimination and guaranteeing equality and accessibility for all. Fortunately, an increasing number of employers are recognising the talent pool represented by individuals with disabilities and that individuals with disabilities can offer various skills and competencies just as much as non-disabled individuals.
Nonetheless, when considering disabled individuals for employment it is crucial for employers to offer ongoing support that goes beyond the recruitment process and fosters the growth and success of disabled staff and creates a positive working environment.
There are many ways that employers can provide support to disabled staff in the workplace, and they include the following:
- Ensuring seamless access during the recruitment process
Although it’s rare to come across job advertisements explicitly stating inclusivity for disabled individuals, recruiters should adapt their interview processes to accommodate everyone. Employers must prioritise accessibility in job application processes, which involves creating documents in easy-to-read formats and making sure they are compatible with screen readers.
Additionally, avoid overly stringent requirements that may deter applicants with disabilities. Consider offering assistance with applications, scheduling phone interviews, and addressing accessibility challenges like wheelchair access, hearing loops, or computer access. Continuously review and refine the application process to eliminate disadvantages for people with disabilities.
- Ensure adequate communication of concerns
Through effective communication, employers and managers can provide valuable support to individuals with disabilities, enabling them to express job-related challenges and collaboratively create a more inclusive and favourable work environment for all. During these discussions, it’s important for employees to be mindful of avoiding actions that might undermine the confidence of disabled staff.
While managers may sometimes be uncertain about the right approach, initiating supportive discussions with staff to understand their needs is key. Ultimately, meaningful conversations with disabled staff can significantly enhance their confidence and contribute to a more inclusive workplace.
- Adjust your working arrangements with the disabled staff in mind
When shaping your work arrangements and schedules, remember that these conditions can impact all your employees, including those with disabilities. Consider the range of disabilities among your staff and tailor your arrangements accordingly.
For example, if you have team members with neurodiverse conditions like ADHD, dyslexia, or autism, keep in mind that they may struggle with bright lights, loud noises, or busy patterns on walls. To accommodate them, think about providing natural lighting, noise-cancelling headphones, or a quiet retreat area. You could even explore options like remote work to create a more comfortable environment.
Additionally, offering various assistive technologies, such as screen readers, voice recognition software, hearing loop systems, or amplified phones, can greatly support employees. The specific assistive technologies needed will depend on the disabilities present in your workplace.
Don’t forget to consider transportation. Ensure that employees with disabilities have convenient commuting options. Evaluate whether public transportation works for them, and if not, consider allowing them to work remotely.
Encourage open communication. Make sure your employees feel comfortable requesting adjustments, as it’s more cost-effective to adapt to their needs than to replace them or have them struggle silently at work.
Creating inclusive workplace benefits everyone and enhances overall performance.
- Provide comprehensive training to all employees
Often, employees with disabilities may not be aware of the support available to them. Employers should prioritise time with them when they initially start to inform them about the organisation’s support systems. This can be done through webinars and videos that give a practical glimpse into a disabled employee’s workday. Keep it informal and engaging to make the information accessible and useful.
- Strive to maintain equality
This stands as a critical factor that can significantly impact the performance of disabled staff in the workplace. Employers should consistently treat all employees with fairness, regardless of their disabilities.
It’s disheartening to note that, in some instances, disabled employees may be made to feel as though they should be grateful for having a job at all. This approach is not only ethically wrong but also lacks humanity and fairness.
Every employer’s aim should be to ensure that all staff, including those with disabilities, have positive experiences at work. To achieve this, employers should actively seek ways to support and empower their disabled employees, fostering both their individual growth and the overall success of the organization.