Employers across the world are recognizing the need to employ a diverse workforce as this can not only build a better corporate reputation but also improve employee morale leading to higher productivity amongst staff. Despite this, recent statistics indicate that approximately only 17.5 percent of people with disabilities are employed
The key to raising this percentage is to create a disability-friendly workplace., encouraging more qualified disabled candidates to seek employment. This means nurturing an environment that offers support and encouragement, and there are many ways an employer can do this.
Make Accessibility a Priority
A freely accessible workplace is paramount to disabled employees as it helps them move around, get their work done and enjoy the time spent in the workplace.
Aside from the more obvious options of wide corridors and easy access to workstations, employers should consider disability-friendly parking, wheelchair accessible doorways, ramps or lifts at entries and exits of buildings and cafeterias. The choice is vast when selecting an electric lift, but there is plenty of advice available for employers about making an informed decision not only for the employee but the workplace in question. Communal areas for staff must be given particular focus and made accessible to all employees; both disabled and able-bodied to encourage positive working relationships.
Invest in Awareness Training
Where awareness is encouraged, empowerment occurs. Make sure it is an ongoing commitment to highlight the need for a disability-friendly organization and to promote a sensitive and inclusive workforce. It is equally important that the day to day environment for all members of staff is perceived to be one of equality on both sides, this negates any considered negativity through them feeling special measures or bias may be in place for the less non-disabled. Offering sensitizing training will assist non-disabled employees in gaining more insight into how to best interact with disabled coworkers and hopefully aid in dispelling any such these notions. Employees should also be informed as to how they can aid their disabled counterparts should an emergency arise.
Most current roles require some form of computer use and other types of technology. Assistive technology, like most other technological apps, and online tools, has come a long way in the last decade. If your company invests in the right software and technical utilities, disabled employees will be able to carry out their day to day responsibilities hinderance free and feel equality irrespective of disability. Some such aids include Braille displays, screen reader software, assistive listening devices and speech recognition and sign language apps. It is suggested that installing interactive activity apps on computers will engage and brighten employee morale.
Health and Wellbeing
It is becoming paramount among socially responsible corporations that a focus must be placed on Employee health and well-being. This is important, perhaps even more so, within disability-friendly workplaces. Many employers are now providing recreational and stress-busting activities such as gyms, relaxation rooms, games rooms or physical breaks for Tai Chi or yoga. Others are offering more relaxing work breaks such as weekly massage or sleeping pods. All such activities are designed not only to motivate and calm all employees but also provide a chance to team build and get to know fellow employees in a more stress-free environment.
Above all, it pays to remember a diverse and happy workplace is a more productive workplace.