Employees with disabilities often feel isolated from the rest of the workplace. Although some employees living with a disability are able to engage in many work-related activities, the limitations they experience can adversely affect their mental health and wellbeing.
Whether the disability is physical or mental in nature, I’ve witnessed the frustration that employees with disabilities experience as a result of the negative impact their physical limitations have on their daily life. Here are some things your organization can do to better support employees with disabilities in the workplace.
Understand their needs
I believe that empathy is one of the most essential qualities a person can have. Because of this, I also believe that it’s crucial to understand as much as possible about the needs of employees with disabilities, on a physical, emotional, and psychological level.
It’s important to find out what will make the work lives of employees with disabilities more accessible, and personally oversee these changes. This could include getting a wheelchair ramp installed, making washrooms more accessible, and allowing more time to complete duties and tasks.
I highly recommend speaking with employees with disabilities on a recurring basis to learn first-hand what they need in the workplace to feel safe, secure, and valued.
In my experience, I’ve noticed that most employees are more than happy to help a peer facing a disability at work, but don’t often know exactly what they can do, or how to do it. It’s for this reason that sharing knowledge with all members of your organization is an excellent way to get everyone on the same page.
Resources regarding the effects of disabilities, as well as what can be done to lend support to employees with disabilities are incredibly valuable. With this information, you will create an atmosphere of empathy and respect, and employees with disabilities will feel more like part of the team.
Creating equal opportunity
Many organizations speak about equal opportunity in regards to gender or cultural background, but equal opportunity also extends to employees with disabilities. One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned is that each individual employee has their own strengths and potential, including employees with disabilities.
As the workplace evolves, I believe it’s important for employers to offer equal opportunity during the hiring process by carefully examining candidates’ capabilities as they adhere to the position. This offers incredible value to your organization as a whole, providing a thriving, inclusive atmosphere for all employees.
If you’re looking for more ideas on how can create a more inclusive atmosphere for disabled employees, contact your Employee Assistance Program today.