Making your place of work disability-friendly makes it diverse in that people from all walks of life can apply their skills for the growth of the firm. This is because it’ll become friendly to those with various disabilities such as hearing loss, sight loss, dyspraxia, dyslexia, physical disabilities and many others.
Some ways to create a disability-friendly workplace include adapting your workplace to the employees, eliminating barriers, modification or replacement of equipment, training the employees with special needs, providing the needed information and making the workplace flexible. These aspects ensure that all employees and visitors can access the services they need.
How to Make an Office Disability-Friendly
Some of the ways to make the workplace friendly to the disabled include these:
1. Focus on Training and Awareness
As it’s often said, knowledge is power. And having knowledgeable employees when it comes to disabilities is a major advantage in making the workplace disability friendly. First, training and awareness will inform all the disabled employees of their rights in the workplace. This will make them actively take part in putting in place the right amenities for their use.
Secondly, the rest of the employees will understand that disabled employees are just as good as they are when it comes to work output. This is usually due to the myths and misconceptions held about disabled employees which may lead to discrimination.
Beyond that, there are some employees with ‘invisible disabilities.’ These are mental, physical or neurological conditions that aren’t immediately perceivable by onlookers but limit the individual’s senses, movements and other aspects. These have to be known and handled as proper disabilities. Others such as vision and hearing issues, mental disorders, learning impediments, cognitive dysfunction and brain injuries also fall into this category.
The information to pass on to the workforce includes knowledge about how to treat the disabled in the normal way of work and during emergencies. The emphasis should be to dispel any misconceptions they hold against the disabled.
2. Collaborate with Others
Collaboration to make the workplace disability friendly is one of the best efforts to engage in. It helps provide new perspectives on the same issue with some firms from the government and non-governmental organizations doing a lot of work on this front.
These firms have more resources to focus on making the workplace diverse and conducive for all types of employees and will help your firm provide the best working conditions for everyone. Their efforts can help overcome a lot of issues in making the workplace diverse and conducive for everyone.
3. Be Fair and Honest to Everyone
The most common mistake made by managers and others during appraisals is to be too lenient to disabled employees when giving them feedback on their work. While it may be due to their disabilities, it ends up limiting their efforts and making it hard for them to overcome some hurdles on the job.
It is best to learn of the best ways to communicate with the disabled employees to bring out the best in them rather than giving them too much space when they don’t meet deadlines as needed. For this reason, training needs to be done to keep everyone on the same page and to handle disabled employees well without appearing pushy or too lenient to them.
4. Employ Assistive Technology
Technology, being at the heart of all workplaces nowadays, can be harnessed to provide the best working environment no matter the disability one has. Major firms such as Apple and Google are making it easy for everyone to be productive regardless of their shortcomings.
Some of the tools include specific apps, machines and others. Braille displays, color-coded keyboards, speech-to-visual converters, apps for sign language and many others make it easy to use gadgets nowadays. Most gadgets also come with accessibility features which can be tweaked to suit the needs of a given user. They may require some training to be fully utilized.
5. Improve Accessibility
Making everything at work accessible to all employees goes a long way in helping you attain the workplace diversity you need. Some of the areas to focus on include the following:
- Doorways accessible to wheelchairs
- Ramps at building entrances
- Parking areas for the disabled
- Corridors that are wide enough to be accessed by wheelchairs
- Washrooms that can accommodate the disabled
- Visible signs for everyone
- Braille in lifts and other areas
- Easily accessible workstations
These aspects, coupled with the right information, help make your workplace disabled-friendly.
6. Go for a Wholesome Approach to Employees’ Wellbeing
While the aim is to create a disability-friendly workplace, you can achieve it better when you focus on the wholesome aspect of employees’ wellbeing. Provide an environment in which everyone is appreciated and taken care of.
You can provide games, sports, parties and other communal activities which foster togetherness such that no one feels left out. Most firms applying these aspects easily isolate the able-bodied employees who may need the same or even more care especially when it comes to mental issues.
Instill a culture of good health by prohibiting the use of drugs and alcohol. You can also carry out periodical drug tests to keep everyone on the same page. This way, the workplace will be appreciated as a good place to work from and a beneficial part of life.
Also, ensure the disabled employees feature on company pictures and materials like everyone else. The effort should be towards making them feel as much a part of the firm as possible.
Putting all these activities and plans in place with frequent appraisal of their effectiveness helps your disabled employees feel appreciated and, in turn, do their best at work. Specific people also need to be appointed to ensure that everything is in line and corrective measures are taken when the need arises.
Benefits of a Diverse Workforce
Having a disability-friendly workplace has many benefits including the following:
1. Improves Morale and Productivity
When everyone at the workplace feels appreciated and taken care of, their productivity will of course improve. Their morale will be higher than they will as part of the firm rather than mere employees being used to attain goals they don’t share.
2. Builds a Better Brand Identity
A diverse firm is appreciated more since more people can relate to it. This includes employees, customers, government organizations and even competitors. Some of the biggest brands in various business sectors are appreciated for their focus on promoting diversity in the workplace.
3. Builds Social Development
Social development refers to the improvement of each one’s potential in society so that they can attain their full potential. With workplace diversity, each one will have the chance to fully develop and utilize their skills for the growth of society.
4. Expands the Available Pool of Talent
If the workplace is limited to a certain type of people, it’ll miss out on some talented employees who have a few disabilities. Computer work, for example, has little to do with one’s physical attributes. Diversity will allow you get the employees you need for the available positions no matter their disabilities.
5. Reduces Employee Turnover and Absence
If employees are appreciated and supported properly, they’re less likely to leave or miss work due to one reason or the other. This way, you will retain and attract the best talent which will help the firm grow and attain its goals.
With the right steps towards providing the needed environment for all employees, you’ll have a diverse and more productive workforce.