It is 2020 already and it’s time for workplaces to take initiative to make employees feel welcome and comfortable at work. Unfortunately, many organizations around the world are not inclusive when it comes to employees with disabilities.
This is usually not intentional rather it is an unconscious bias that most of us experience. Many people with disabilities face problems landing in their dream jobs due to a lack of basic facilities at most workplaces. Not only are disability-friendly workplaces more inclusive, but they also diversity to an organization. However, when you don’t know how to achieve that, it can be an intimidating prospect.
This article shows you to build an all-inclusive culture and make your workplace disability-friendly as well.
When you hire employees with special abilities, it is important to focus on the challenges they face commonly. One of these challenges is, trying to fit into the regular work environment. It is important not to presume that you know all of their challenges.
Most workplaces aren’t designed for the differently abled. For example, most of the workplaces have cubicles as workstations for their staff, which cannot accommodate a wheelchair. It is challenging for employees with disabilities to navigate easily or adjust the monitor screen to their visible level or even use the mouse.
Another problem that they face is discrimination. Workplace discrimination can happen based on anything, but employees with disabilities become easy targets for some people.
These are certain challenges that jump out at you straight away. However, the more you talk to employees, or even hire new ones, you will realize that there is a wide spectrum of challenges that many individuals face.
So, do your research and gain as much as knowledge you can.
Now that you have decided to make your workplace disability-friendly, the next step is to convey the message to your workforce. When building an all-inclusive culture, one of the most important things employees need to learn is sensitivity, awareness, and empathy.
At this juncture, bringing an external personal who is knowledgeable about disabilities in the workplace or who works frequently with people with disabilities; to educate employees through conferences, seminars etc. is advisable.
Keep in mind, this is something that needs to happen in regular intervals. It is not a one-time thing.
Additionally, it would be good to keep employees informed of upcoming changes to the work environment. You never know, they might have suggestions of their own as well that you can utilize as well.
Create A Committee
Having a support group for differently abled employees allows you to discuss any issues during implementing an inclusive work environment and choose solutions from people who have first-hand knowledge of the issues that they face.
Once you have established a disability-friendly workplace, this support group can also be responsible for taking care of resources that promote disability inclusiveness in your office. Additionally, they can also be responsible for training new employees about the disability friendly environment at the workplace.
Hire A Professional
You can hire a professional engineer or get your office assessed by one, so that you can understand what your office actually needs to make the workplace more disability friendly.
Sometimes you might have to make extensive changes, sometimes you might not. Either way, always take an opinion from a professional before you invest in remodeling your office space.
You might be afraid that this can be an unnecessary investment of money and time, but making your workplace disability friendly is a one-time investment that will ensure you returns in leaps and bounds. can be achieved easily just by getting the right professional help.
Get The Right Equipment
The next step is to get the right equipment. When we say equipment, you don’t need to panic. You just have to design your office space to accommodate everyone. For example, having a parking space that can be easily accessible by employees with disabilities is one way to start. If your office has stairs, then fit a ramp along so that people with wheelchair also can use it without much of an issue.
The Company Policy
Revising company policy is one of the most vital things to do when you are implementing such a huge change in your office. You should revise your office policies related to workplace discrimination and add a policy which includes disabled employees. Disability laws vary from country to country and it would be cognizant to keep those in mind when revising your workplace as well.
In addition to revising the policy to make it inclusive to all employees, the policy should also contain information about training programs, workshops and mentoring classes which are specifically oriented towards employees with disabilities.
This article just skims the surface of making an organization disability-friendly. There is a lot of work and effort that goes towards making the workplace inclusive and this is an effort that will always be on-going. However, it is an effort that reaps many benefits, such as improved engagement, enhanced diversity, and a welcoming public image.
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