In the US, 61 million adults are living with a disability, and this number is only expected to grow in conjunction with the aging population. Yet despite a large number of disabled people in the workforce, many employers are unsure of how to accommodate their needs. The process of onboarding disabled employees doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming, but there are certain considerations that should be taken into account.
By taking a few simple steps, employers can create an inclusive environment that welcomes all employees and helps them thrive. By making small changes to the onboarding process, employers can ensure that everyone feels included and valued from day one. Here are three ways employers can help to optimize their onboarding process for employees with a disability.
Use visual tools to share information
There is so much information new employees in any position will have to digest in the first few months of their employment. It can be easy for anyone to feel overwhelmed, and things can easily slip through the net and be missed. But for people with certain disabilities, such as learning difficulties, it can be even more challenging to effectively understand any new information when it’s delivered in the wrong way.
Consider using visual tools such as Trello to allow them to work through any necessary materials at their own pace. And, when sharing information through a company handbook, keep it as concise as possible, and make sure that information is clearly structured for reference at a further date. You may also want to consider different ways of delivering it, such as videos, and avoid relying solely on written materials.
Consider reasonable accommodations
It’s common practice for employers to make reasonable accommodations for disabled employees who may benefit more from different ways of working. Consider changes to company policies that could help to make the employee feel more comfortable in the workplace. These could include things like changes to working hours or location, installing accessible technology throughout the office, or updating methods of communication.
It’s important to remember that all individuals will work best under different conditions. So even if you have already made accommodations for another employee, it’s important to ask the new worker directly what they feel they need in order to be at their most productive.
Inclusion training amongst the team
Your onboarding process for a new employee with a disability needs to go wider than just catering to the needs of the individual. You should also look to promote inclusion amongst the whole team, to help them better understand the part they have to play in helping the new worker to feel comfortable. It’s not just the management team who should be involved in the training – every employee could benefit from the learning opportunity.
When it comes to creating an inclusive working environment, best practices are constantly changing in line with updated legislation. It’s important that your entire team is up to date with the recommended practices, so consider making inclusion training an ongoing part of the onboarding process, to help create a truly inclusive company.
Author information: James Ritter: I am a digital consultant with a particular interest in employee welfare and the disability employment gap. I majored in creative writing at university, and am always eager to expand my knowledge around different subjects.