According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, 17.9% of people with disabilities were employed in 2020. This figure is comparatively lower than in 2019 when it was 19.3%. Studies show that hiring individuals with disabilities offer a lot of benefits. From improvements in profitability, employee loyalty, punctuality, and reliability, to having more diverse customers, customer loyalty, and satisfaction, employers have several reasons to actively employ people with disabilities into their workforce.
As an employer, you must create a workplace environment that is conducive and supportive to your disabled staff. Here are some ways you can turn your workforce into a more inclusive organization.
Change your recruitment process
If you tend to outsource your recruitment tasks, make sure that you choose an agency that is knowledgeable about working with different types of candidates. They must be approachable and non-discriminatory. When creating a job description, focus on the essential work criteria and avoid including unnecessary skills that may discourage individuals with disabilities from applying. Make sure that the application forms are easily accessible and readable. In addition, all of the documents should be compatible with various screen readers. Utilize different interview methods and consider what they may need on the day itself, such as hearing loops and wheelchair accessibility. Remember to take note of the effective strategies, so you can continuously enhance them.
Have regular open conversations with your employees with disabilities
As an employer, it is your responsibility to ensure that everyone is safe and comfortable in the workplace. Make sure that all your lines of communication are open and accessible. Conduct regular meetings with your employees with disabilities and get their suggestions on how you can enhance their working environment to help them perform better. Address any issues they may have, no matter how small they may be. Avoid tiptoeing around them and learn how to ask them respectfully. Make them understand that you are there to support them in whatever way you can. You should make your employees feel empowered so that they can be more comfortable with their colleagues.
Work with them on their accommodations
Aside from modifying their physical workspace, it is also vital that you give importance to their other needs. For instance, employees with autism are susceptible to loud noises and bright lights. Consider letting them work from home or provide them with noise-canceling headsets so they can work more effectively. If you have client meetings or events outside your office, make sure that they are accessible for your staff with mobility concerns. Avoid making a spectacle whenever you provide your disabled staff with these special arrangements but do not do it secretly. If you treat these arrangements as classified, your other employees might start feeling resentful towards you or your disabled staff. Make sure that everyone on your staff is aware of these accommodations and understands the need for them.
Change the work culture
If you want to ensure that your employees with disabilities are treated correctly, you need to focus on changing the workplace culture. Aside from prohibiting discriminatory language and behavior, educate your non-disabled employees on the difficulties their coworkers face every day, professionally and personally. It is crucial that they are aware of the different types of disabilities so they can recognize the positive traits and dispel negative notions. Consider conducting disability awareness training to increase your staff’s understanding of the needs of their colleagues with disabilities. Make sure to choose an accredited and credible training company such as Dyslexia Box to assist you with the entire process.
As an employer, it is your responsibility to provide an excellent working experience for all your employees. By following the above tips, you can create a healthy working environment for everyone, increasing their job productivity and satisfaction.