These days, more and more businesses are understanding the need and advantage of employing people from diverse backgrounds. However, the reality is that for differently abled people, the employment numbers are still alarmingly low and many are left still seeking employment and a way to live productively. If you are an HR professional or a business owner looking to make changes to provide employment opportunities to the disabled, here are some ways to do so:
Accessibility is essential when hiring differently abled people in your workforce. The employees should able to freely move around and be able to fulfill their responsibilities. There are simple steps that an employer can take in the short and long term to provide the solutions to make the workplace more accessible. From parking lots closer to entrances and exits to portable aluminum wheelchair ramps, these basic additions allow disabled employees to get their job done and work comfortably and independently in a workplace setting.
The same applies to facilities inside the workplace. Meeting rooms and office cubicles must be accessible through wide corridors that are easily maneuverable, with chairs that are easily movable and are easy to access. Switches and operating buttons must be at an accessible height, eye-level is preferred. Braille versions of instructions should also be provided to support visually impaired employees. Facility managers and custodians must make sure that these are properly maintained and can continuously accommodate people of varying abilities.
Institute training for everyone
Awareness and sensitivity training is only successful when it’s a collective undertaking. An integral part of making a workplace conducive to work for the differently abled is a workforce that shares the vision of the employer to welcome and support disabled employees.
The reality is that many people still hold biases against the disabled, wittingly and unwittingly. These trainings should be mandatory and have sections that provide insight into why it’s important to have a diverse workforce and also further learning and understanding of how to work alongside disabled employees. It’s also imperative for the company to provide basic training to employees that will allow them to help the differently abled in case there’s an emergency.
Establish a feedback system
Inclusivity is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s essential for the management and executives to understand that creating an inclusive workplace will need time and effort. Disabled employees might require assistance in certain areas, but they must be evaluated fairly according to their ability to perform their job.
Managers both senior and mid-level must be trained on how to manage, lead, and motivate disabled employees. For the most part, management techniques and principles are applicable, but communication can be different for disabled employees. Learning how to best engage and discuss matters with disabled employees will take patience and work from all sides. In the end, a diverse workforce that is inclusive can immensely improve a company’s overall morale, increase knowledge-sharing and productivity, and impact brand identity positively. Making a workplace disabled-friendly pays off for everyone involved.