An employer’s response to disability accommodation requests plays a critical role in the health of the company culture. How so? If employees feel comfortable making requests that will allow them to best complete tasks they’re less likely to suffer from undue stress and anxiety, and more likely to succeed at their work. Ignoring or penalizing requests produces a toxic culture of fear and paralyzed productivity.
Employers should approach accommodations as a chance to move the workplace towards a more inclusive environment, which we know has long-term positive value. In this blog we’ll cover the responsibilities required of employers, and the initiatives they ought to take in making the workplace more disability-friendly.
An accommodating workplace
- Respond to all accommodation requests. There really isn’t anything on this list more important than being a responsive ear to an employee. It’s also required under the American Disabilities Act (ADA). In addition, be thoughtful in the response. This is key. Responses should conclude the following steps:
- Assessing if the employee has an ADA-recognized disability.
- Reviewing accommodation options, and determining if they are ‘reasonable’ or present ‘undue hardship’ on the business.
- Notifying the employee and then following up with the accommodation in a timely manner, if applicable.
It’s also important to note here that all companies should have a procedure in place for responding to accommodation requests. So if yours do not, make it a priority to get one in place so that each request is both compliant to the law and follows policy to ensure fairness.
Other accommodations employers can proactively make
Many accommodations can be made before an employee requests them, and doing so is really helpful in creating an even playing field for employees to succeed.
- Physical accommodations such as desk height, assistive technology, and modifying equipment are important tools in ensuring that employees can work efficiently.
- Flexibility: think job duty restructuring, remote work, and flexible schedules. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that by thinking outside the ‘way we’ve always done it’ is an excellent way to push a productive and innovative workplace culture forward.
- Lastly, work with the employee. Involve the employee in the decision process. We know that projects achieved as a result of collaborations are typically the most successful, and that is true with disability accommodations as well.
Employers should take great care in creating an environment that is both a physical and emotional safe space for their employees. This means being an approachable and considerate resource.
And when is a workplace that simply plays solely by their legal requirements ever innovative? The workforce is comprised of a diverse group of abilities and the workplace should be representative of that. If you’re feeling hesitant on how to get started, the experienced HR team at Eos HR can help. We make sure small business teams are successful in maintaining the practices that support a productive company culture. Schedule a free consultation today to learn more.
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