New Year: New Start
After the New Year, there a many things that people have intentions of doing differently. These are commonly known as New Year Resolutions. With all the best intentions, many of us will not stick to these much past 31st January. However, one business resolution that could benefit your whole business would be to make your workplace as inclusive as possible for disabled employees.
We have explored in previous blogs how to create inclusive workplace environments but today we are going to look at harnessing the experience that already exists in your teams. As you will have no doubt already read several times in Celebrating Disability content, disabled people are in every work environment, whether we are aware of it or not. You may not be aware because an employee has a hidden disability such as mental health or a muscular related impairment. They may not, for many reasons, disclose their disability. You may have physically disabled employees that have more obvious requirements.
The ideas below are general because as we know, what may help one person, may not help another. However, in my experience, the ideas I am offering here have been useful for others in the past.
1. Create disability forums.
This is beginning to be quite popular in bigger businesses but they could also work in smaller business. A disability forum can be a place to share good practice and develop inclusion policies across the organisation but they could also be a place where people with similar experiences come together.
Offering a place where disabled employees can talk to people with similar experiences can be incredibly beneficial; if properly structured, people will be able to provide support to one another and advice on how to manage in the workplace should be a natural progression.
2. Support your disabled employee if they are an employer.
Disabled employees often manage their own personal assistants in the workplace. This can sometimes be a challenge, especially if they have never been in a managerial role before. Providing guidance in this area could be useful.
3. Ask how they manage in other environments.
Sometimes its hard for people to take themselves out of the environment they are in. However, if they are able to, they may realise that the situation they are faced with is similar to another and when this happens it could be easier to problem solve.
4. Help your employee to plan ahead.
Due to the extra barriers that disabled people may face and some extra support that may be needed, planning ahead can be helpful. An off site meeting or an influx of Friday afternoon customers may mean some prior planning.
Have the conversation with your employee and be as transparent as possible about what is expected of them as early as possible. That way, the employee has all the necessary information to get everything they need to excel.
5. Get feedback.
Don’t be shy to ask your employee for feedback on the support you are offering. You may be right on track, in which case you can use your learning to support others in the future. There may also be other things your employee needs but isn’t confident to ask for.
Esi (pronounced SE) set up Celebrating Disability in 2017; offering training, consulting and auditing to support businesses attract, engage and retain disabled people. Having the opportunity to support businesses to see the wealth of benefits that disabled people can bring to business, either as customers or employees is a privilege. She is passionate about disability equality and inclusion and loves nothing more than that “Ah ha” moment with a client when they see what disability equality and inclusion can do for them.