How to support employees with disabilities to skyrocket a business growth? Hiring a PWD can be a double-edged sword. It’s a plus on your diversity record but can quickly turn into a business minus if not executed right. Here’s a look at the key strategies you should implement to support your employees with disabilities and let them contribute their best.

How to support employees with disabilities?

Revise your company culture

The first step in building a disability-supportive workspace is reviewing the existing environment. Just imagine for a moment: you recruit an employee with a disability, they’re great at their job, and you lose them because the office doesn’t feel accepting or is even subtly hostile. Lost revenue, lost talent, lost reputation. Ouch. To avoid that undesirable scenario, make sure your company culture is inclusive and supportive before you welcome a PWD workmate into the fold.

To begin with, eliminate hurtful behavior and language. Vocabulary is a big deal because we’re constantly exposed to it. A continuous barrage of tiny insensitivities adds up to significant damage over time. Review your guidelines on office communication and conduct.

First, establish policies that prohibit discriminatory speech. Circulate them among the staff. Determine consequences for infractions, make them known, and follow-through. Second, update your harassment policy. Certain behaviors that able people consider friendly teasing could be downright damaging to a PWD, especially if their disability is physical.

Next, invest in sensitivity training. Many people have no malice, they just genuinely don’t understand why something is wrong to say or do. To ensure that all your employees have a quality experience in your organization, get them all on the same page. Educate your abled staff on the personal and professional challenges their PWD colleagues face on a daily basis. Teach them about the different disability types. Remember to point out their positive aspects to help with breaking down stereotypes and negative bias.

how to attract disabled workers

Get custom input on required accommodations

One of the most direct ways you can support your employees with disabilities is to modify the workspace. You’re probably already familiar with this. Many businesses are adding things like wheelchair ramps, accessible toilets, and the like. Physical accommodations go beyond mobility, though. Consider things like standing desks, presentation equipment for the hearing-impaired, different lighting, or noise cancellation solutions.

So, your first step should be to ask the employees themselves what they need, how they need it, and how you can provide it. Listen mindfully. Don’t assume you know what’s best. Even with the warmest intentions, an abled person’s perspective is just too different. If you’re unsure about something, trust your employees’ input over your own ideas.

Next, consult with an experienced NDIS plan management provider to see what solutions would work best for your business. Ask them about their experience in supporting persons with the same disabilities that your employees have.

A professional’s insight can be invaluable, even if your staff prefer to manage their disabilities on their own in everyday life. This kind of two-directional approach will give you a more complete perspective. You’ll have a better idea of quality accommodations and how to implement them in the workplace.

In addition, think about the support that isn’t centered on physical disability. For example, some employees on the autism spectrum might get easily overwhelmed and would do better working from home. This can all be a lot to navigate. Your best bet is to speak to the individuals in your offices and tailor the place to their specific needs. No disability guide can replace the lived experience of the actual individuals in your actual space.

Update your recruitment process

Choose non-discriminatory, open-minded, approachable recruiters. Give them the same kind of awareness training you do to other employees. Also, consider training them in different interview methods. Not everyone shows their real potential in a rigid point-by-point Q & A.

Write inclusive job descriptions. Focus on what’s essential for the role. Avoid listing unnecessary nice-to-haves that would discourage otherwise suitable PWD candidates from applying. Consider also excluding non-essential skills that can be learned on the job.

Make your forms accessible. Use easily readable fonts and formatting. Have both print and digital copies. Make sure the e-files are compatible with different devices and reader software.

Finally, spare a thought as to what a PWD candidate might need the day of. Examples include accessibility for mobility aids, a hearing aid device, and such. Optimizing the recruitment process can take a while. That’s alright. Ask for candidates’ feedback and keep track of what strategies work so you can keep refining them.

Final comments

Hope now you know how to support employees with disabilities and you can take the necessary initiatives. Employees with disabilities can offer unique contributions. They’re naturally resilient, adaptable, resourceful, and tenacious. Due to the challenges they perpetually face, they’re excellent planners and know to prepare for any eventuality. Do your best to genuinely support them and watch your company’s growth and productivity skyrocket.

About the author

Mike Johnston is a seasoned blogger, editor, and digital marketing specialist. He’s published a large amount of engaging content for numerous influential blogs in his career so far. Mike’s main areas of focus are business and tech, but he also covers lifestyle, careers, and employment.

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