Many of us spend a significant amount of time at work. For some people, it’s where they can work on their personal growth and development, which then leads to a self-esteem boost. However, not everyone has the same positive experience. People with disabilities can sometimes find that the traditional rigid work environment is incompatible with their needs, and so struggle to feel like they are flourishing.
Promisingly, 71% of employers said that they were willing to make adjustments to support people with disabilities, which hopefully suggests that the future will see this changing for the better. Whilst it is important to create an accessible environment within your office space, to be completely inclusive, you’ll also have to consider ways you can support workers beyond the confines of the office. Here, we take a look at four things you can do to support disabled employees, and provide a more positive work experience.
The benefits of flexible working go far beyond just being able to work in your sweatpants. For people with disabilities, not having to attend the office at 9am can mean the difference between being able to work and not.
Allowing team members to travel off-peak can make a big difference to their day. There are still many things that can be improved about stations and buses to support people with disabilities, so removing the need to tackle these at rush hour can mean a significantly better experience.
To take things even further, offer your employees the opportunity to manage their own time, rather than requiring them to work between 9 and 5. Giving this flexibility means that the team can take care of their mental and physical health, and this can be key for someone living with a long-term condition.
Legally, employees can ask for flexible working under the rights that they have in the Equality Act of 2010. Employers have a responsibility to make reasonable adjustments to support workers to do their job. Sometimes, this means finding a compromise, to get a solution that works for both sides.
Consider part-time contracts
According to government research, disabled people are more likely than non-disabled people to be working part-time. This is often a result of needing to manage their medical condition or fatigue caused by it.
Whilst it can feel easier to just put everyone on the same hours, being open to part-time contracts, job shares and compressed hours can mean that you have a wider talent pool, and your team is all the better for it. Part-time employees should get the same benefits as full-time employees, but these can be adjusted pro-rata if applicable.
Accessible team activities
Team socials are often a big part of how your team gels, as it’s where people get to talk about something other than work. Having this good working relationship with colleagues can make the difference when it comes to getting work done, and your employee’s overall enjoyment of the role.
You should ensure that you consider everyone when planning your events so that your event is inclusive. If going to an external venue, make sure to check their accessibility policy, and share this information, so that you can check that everyone will be able to attend if they want to. If you’re not sure what a specific team member might need, then ask them in advance of booking, so that you can make sure that they’re actively included.
Home office budget
It’s important to make sure that your team is set up for success wherever they are. Allowing employees to choose to work from home can be a great way to help them balance their other needs and responsibilities, but it can often mean that they end up with a sub-par workstation, as they’re having to pay for it out of their own pocket.
If an employee chooses to work fully at home, then this saves the employer a desk space, heating and electricity. Why not put these savings towards an allowance for a proper desk at home and other equipment that you’d need to provide in the office? This can go a long way towards making your team comfortable, but also reminds them that you support their choice to work at home.
To sum up
There is plenty that can be done to support disabled employees, making sure that they are included and are able to work at their best. As always, every person is individual, so be proactive when it comes to feedback, and be open to individual suggestions.