Handling issues of the disabled in a work environment demands more attention in today’s workplace. It starts with the need to understand how to deal with a person of disability and accommodate them in the company’s policies and procedures to ensure that they are not left out and, at the same time, are at the most productive state to ensure high work productivity.
With about 1 out of every eight people living with some form of disability, their unequaled representation in the workplace is glaring.
And while disabled people are over a third less likely to be employed compared to non-disabled people, they still face a lot of friction in the work environment after being hired.
It all begins with the recruitment process. Human resources managers need to adapt the entire process to meet different candidates’ needs. From using alternative data input mediums, providing documents in large print, easy-to-read versions of text materials, to actively putting people with disability in consideration while drafting a plan for a company’s recruitment.
Also, the workspace arrangement and design should be made considerate of the needs of the disabled. From the location of the company building, the stairs or ramp, and the lightning in the building to the provision of assistive technologies such as screen readers to magnify the screen, voice recognition technology, hearing loop systems, or amplified phones. All these will contribute to the productivity and morale of the employees as they feel included and catered for.
In addition, companies should pay employees with similar workloads equally, disabled or not. The atmosphere of making the disabled feel like they are below-abled employees and deserve to be paid a low wage should be shunned. Employing a disabled person should be normalized, and they shouldn’t be treated like some refugees or people to whom we have barely shown favor. Doing this creates an unpleasant and demotivating experience that may affect disabled employees’ attitude to work.
While people without a particular disability may guess what the disabled person is dealing with, it is necessary for the organization to organize an orientation seminar about significant disabilities people suffer from, how they feel and how other employees can help them adjust to working efficiently in the company. Such conferences would bridge the gap between the disabled and others who don’t know what they go through or people who wonder why they need to be treated specially.
It should also include advising other employees to be careful of their speech and action that may appear offensive and degrading to a disabled person.
Summarily, employers should ensure adequate support for disabled people and reasonable workplace adjustments are put in place to accommodate them while considering their psychological and emotional needs.