Today, approximately one billion people in the world have some kind of disability. It is very crucial to ensure that one is actively recruiting and also supporting employees having disabilities. Employing disabled people implies that one is attracting more highly-skilled candidates, increasing their talent pool, boosting the productivity of the company and enhancing the team’s performance.
So, let’s discuss five things that one must consider in their organisation to ensure that one is truly supporting disabled employees in their workplace.
- Embedded accessibility in the recruitment process
An employer must adapt their interview process in a way that meets the needs of different candidates. It has been observed that the majority of recruitment agencies are either not approachable or not accessible for people having disabilities.
Even some simple steps taken by recruiters can help disabled people. For example, a company can provide all the required documents in large print, easy read version or in braille. In the case of online documents, they must ensure that soft copies of documents are compatible with screen readers. While writing eligibility criteria for a job position, one must focus on essential criteria rather than the preferred one. One can also use alternative methods like telephone interviews or taster days for supporting candidates and helping them to complete their application forms.
The required facilities such as a wheelchair, hearing loops, computer access must be available on the day of the interview.
- busting myths with managers
Some managers who have no prior experience of working with people having disabilities My feel daunted by the idea of managing disabled people for the first time. They may have many concerns such as saying the appropriate thing or ensuring that they are providing adequate support.
Busting such myths of managers can help them to gain some confidence and knowledge which is required by them for supporting their employees.
For example, it is one of the most common myths that people having a disability have a much higher absenteeism rate as compared to other employees. However, it was found that disabled people don’t take much time off.
- modification in working arrangements
It’s very important to keep in mind that not all disability conditions are physical in nature and modifications in working conditions must be made accordingly. For example, for people having neurological disabilities such as dyslexia, autism, ADHD; bright lights, loud noises can be very disturbing. So, they must be provided with natural lightning, headphones having noise cancellation technology or they must be allowed to work from home.
One must also think about the most convenient way by which people having disabilities can travel to the office.
- Providing employees unconscious bias training
Employees who don’t have disabilities may be unaware of the needs and support required by their colleagues who are having a disability.
So, the employees must be trained about the difficulties faced by people with disabilities. This training can be an eye-opener for them and will help to improve the work culture and harmony at the workplace of the company.
This training can be ongoing or peer-led rather than being formal. It must also include encouraging staff to avoid saying and doing things that offend or hurt the feelings of people with disabilities.
- Equal wages
Last but not the least, employers must provide equal wages to all employees. I know it's quite obvious but unfortunately, many companies give disabled people less wage as compared to people having no disability. Many disabled people are made to feel that they must be grateful for getting the job, which is both immoral and motivational for employees having a disability.
As an employer, one must ensure that every employee, whether disabled or not, have a great working experience. Having great experience doesn’t only mean accessibility of offices but it’s about knowing what is important for the employees and designing the experience that is not only needed but is wanted by them.
This will enable them to thrive and not just work. After all, at the end of the day, the greatest asset for any company is their people, the employees.