Hiring people costs money. Training employees’ costs even more money. Accommodations help you retain valuable talent and allow employees to do their jobs well.
- Is a change to a job, the work environment, or to the way tasks are done.
- Enables employees with disabilities to perform the main functions of a job, and be productive in the workplace.
As an employer, you do not need to make the exact accommodation that your employee requests, but you do need to make a reasonable accommodation. A collaborative and positive approach will provide the best results.
Accommodating workers with disabilities may mean treating employees differently in order to be equitable. Fair does not always mean treating people the same.
You accommodate staff every day. Accommodations help your personnel succeed.
Cost of accommodations
Workplace accommodations are made for employees every day. However, the word “accommodation” is unfairly associated with added costs, inconvenience, or expensive changes to the physical environment. Most accommodations involve no cost.
- Are often related to a flexible approach, such as a late start time or more frequent breaks.
- Can be assistive technologies and devices such as software (i.e., captions).
- Can be services such as administrative help.
- Include changes to work processes or procedures.
Accommodations not only benefit employees with a disability but lead to overall higher productivity, reduced safety risks, and more positive work environments for all employees.
How to accommodate
Create a clear procedure for accommodations. Write it down, so that everyone clearly understands what is needed and what has been agreed to. Consider:
- How to make this a constructive discussion between the person with a disability, the company, and any third parties (i.e., medical or insurance representatives)?
- Who will be responsible for making decisions? The advantage of having one person responsible for accommodations is that they can build expertise and ensure that requests are dealt with in a consistent manner.
- How will agreements be documented? Don’t over-complicate it, but record it.
- Are there common and simple accommodations that you can pre-approve? This might include providing an ergonomic chair, or a headset. Write these down.
- How confidentiality be maintained?
It is unlikely that two individuals will require an identical accommodation. Be flexible. Each person is unique and how they experience their disability is unique.
Examples of accommodations
Accommodations are simply adjustments to the work environment, tasks, or processes to allow employees to do their job. They often result in increased productivity across your company.
|Changes to the Workplace||Changes to Processes||Changes to Tasks||Tools and Technologies|
|Built Environment. Examples: entrances with ramps and automatic doors, accessible parking, accessible washrooms|
Work environment. Examples: desk and filing cabinet height, ergonomic chairs, lighting levels, glare, office location
|Safety Protocols. Examples: Emergency Exit Plans|
Time Management. Examples: calendars, reminders, project plans
Flexible Hours. Examples: breaks, variation
Training processes. Examples: longer training period, disability awareness
Communication processes. Examples: simplified language, large text, verbal vs written instruction, use of diagrams, charts, repetition
|Re-define job descriptions|
|Assistive Technologies. Examples: noise-canceling headphones, large screens, screen magnifiers, software, colour contrast, specialist keyboards, etc.|
Checklists, reminders, calendars
|Type of Accommodation||Example||Cost|
|Mobility: an employee with a mobility disability finds it difficult to commute during rush hour.||The employee can arrive at work an hour early and leave an hour early.||$0|
|Site: a worker with anxiety gets overwhelmed in crowded areas.||Relocate desk to a more spacious, quiet area.||$0|
|Assistive Device: an employee with a learning disability has trouble remembering oral instructions.||Create checklists outlining each step of daily tasks. Provide a white board to record new tasks.||$20|
|Ergonomic: a staff member with chronic pain must sit for long periods of time.||Purchase an ergonomic chair.||$350|
|Assistive Hardware: An employee works with customers has difficulty communicating due to hearing loss.||Provide a headset and an amplifier.||$500|
As a business, there is some funding available to assist employers who want to hire people with disabilities but require assistance with training, assistive devices, or accommodations.
|Type of Accommodation||Example of Assistive Device or Technology|
Join the movement. Find and keep the best talent. Build a culture that is inclusive of disability.