Disabilities And The Workplace

Having a disability is difficult enough without having to worry if your employer is going to provide appropriate accommodations and actually help you in the advancement of your career within the company. According to a random survey of 662 HR professionals conducted by SHRM, “Fifty-nine percent of respondents said they encourage flexible work arrangements such as telecommuting, flextime, and part-time work for employees,” according to Rebecca R. Hastings.

Some employers actually encourage employees to disclose disabilities so they can help accommodate those employees. According to Hastings, “The study found that less than a third of respondents track metrics” that are important to ensuring an effective work environment, such as:

  • Accommodation numbers, types and cost
  • Applicants with disabilities hired
  • Number of applicants with disabilities
  • Turnover rate for employees with disabilities
  • Engagement levels of employees with disabilities

How can a company track if implemented programs designed to hire, mentor, and advance individuals with disabilities are working without tracking important information, such as the above list? They simply cannot – they will only be able to guesstimate. Without tracking this information the company won’t know what needs to be changed, or how it needs to be changed. In addition, according to Hastings, “…less than 20 percent of employers:

  • Have a structured mentoring program for employees with disabilities
  • Offer special career planning and development tools for employees with disabilities
  • Have explicit organizational goals related to retention and advancement of employees with disabilities
  • Include progress toward such retention and advancement goals in the performance appraisals of senior management”

To me, this is disturbing. Employees with disabilities should not need to feel unwanted in their work environment simply because the company has not implemented certain programs that can aid disabled employees to grow and advance within the company.

Does your company have a plan in place for disabled employees? If so, what things do these plans have included?


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