Employing people with disabilities has been shown to be good for business and employee morale. In the UK alone, it’s been reported that over 7.9 million people who are of working age have disabilities. This is roughly 19% of the working population. This is a valuable demographic to tap into when seeking for individuals to employ. Here’s how you can create a working environment that’s welcoming, inclusive, and accessible for people with disabilities:
Supply specialized equipment
The equipment that able-bodied individuals use may not be suitable for those with disabilities. It’s important to provide special equipment that will allow them to work much more efficiently. In terms of mobility, you can provide accessible washrooms and height-adjustable desks. For those who are vision and hearing-impaired, there’s Video Relay Service (VRS), devices with speech-recognition, and aids for the visually impaired that you can find all over the UK. If you’re not sure what equipment to provide, you can always ask your employees for advice on how to make their workplace more accessible and inclusive. You may also hire a consultant to assess your current business strategies and make any necessary changes
Get rid of physical barriers
For your employees who have issues with mobility, including those who need wheelchair access, the best way to make your workplace more inclusive is by removing physical barriers. Reserve parking spaces for people with disabilities located close to entrances and exits, provide wheelchair ramps, make sure no hallways, doorways, and entrances are obstructed, and that all the offices and lobbies of your building have ample space to move around.
Offer remote work and flexible hours
There are certain cases wherein an employee may not be able to come to your workplace, no matter how accessible you make it. In this instance, you should consider offering remote arrangements or flexible part-time hours. If you’re able to, you can also offer these opportunities to your current employees, able-bodied or otherwise. It’s a great way to boost overall employee morale and help cut down on the stress of commuting.
Foster an inclusive company culture
Your company culture should reflect your goal to become more accessible and inclusive. Make sure that your company guidelines explain that you’re dedicated to hiring people with a disability, how employees and management can contribute to making the workplace more accessible, as well as what steps you’re actively taking to implement these goals into the work environment.
Create a less stressful work environment
There’s no doubt that work can be stressful and overly stimulating. This proves to be more difficult for people with disabilities, particularly mental health concerns. To help them out, you should provide an environment that motivates employees to take care of their mental health. This includes building meditation stations around the workplace, as well as allowing employees more frequent breaks. If you can afford to, perhaps you may even shorten work hours, offer one paid mental health day off a month, or allow people to work from home every so often. These adjustments not only benefit those with disabilities, but they can also have wonderful effects on the mental health of your able-bodied employees. This can result in a happier and more productive and engaged workforce.
Create a workplace you can be proud of by not only employing people with disabilities, but also optimizing your environment for your employees, whether they have disabilities or not.