How you can help your employees
Helping and empowering employees is a vital part of truly good business; not just looking after your bottom line, but after your people also. Employers have the duty to care after and empower employees, to care for their health and safety, as well as improve their general wellbeing. This article lists a few ways in which employers can overcome discrimination and disadvantages faced by employees with disabilities, to enable them to complete their activities under the right set of conditions.
1. Employers must realize, that not all disabilities are visible.
A person is legally disabled if their physical or mental impairment has a long-term negative effect on their ability to perform daily activities. In many cases, these are outside the control of the person, and we are not talking about something minor or trivial, but actually recognizing that, because of these impairments, it may take much longer for an individual to complete certain daily tasks.
Therefore, it is imperative to, first, open a channel of communication between the employer and their employees. One where individuals are safe to convey the problems they face, due to their impairment(s) whereby, upon disclosing a disability, an employer will therefore be able to better support their employees with challenges which an employee may face. These challenges can be very unique.
2. Perform an occupation health assessment
When an employer has been notified of a disability faced by an employee, it is important to properly assess how this disability affects the person. The right diagnosis simply then helps the employer best eliminate the challenge posed by the disability.
Depending on the severity of the disability, or perhaps relative knowledge and understanding of it by the company and individuals, the company could either consult its own internal department – one which deals with occupational health – and figure out an appropriate solution or, perhaps more relevant to smaller firms, the company could reach out to an external doctor and seek medical advice.
3. Make reasonable adjustments to the workplace
The employer should appropriately identify hazards that could pose a danger to the health and safety of its employees in the workplace, and eliminate such hazards. It is crucial that the employer makes reasonable adjustments to make sure, the extent to which it is possible, the disabled employee(s) are at no disadvantage in getting around the workplace, and commencing their work, than other employees.
These reasonable adjustments may range from providing appropriate wheelchair access, as well as access to medications and medical professionals. This depends on whether or not a disability is physical or mental; ultimately, in how it affects the individual’s ability to go about his or her daily tasks.
4. Consider flexible work hours and work-from-home schemes
As we have seen over the past year, individuals are perfectly capable of working from home, and should be trusted with the decision to best change their schedules to fit their personal work style. Now, the extent to which an employer allows their employees the freedom to choose their place of work and working hours depends on how the rest of the team, or company, will function, whether or not they will do so in coherence with one another once they are able to work in whichever way they choose. But for people with physical and/or mental disabilities, employers can create these adaptations, to appropriately share the workload which, in turn may positively impact employee retention.
5. Keep talking
Employers should, ultimately, build an environment of mutual respect and understanding. But no situation is static, and continuous communication allows employers to adapt and progress how best they overcome the obstacles posed by disabilities, together.