Disabilities, both visible and invisible, are obviously very challenging to overcome and to work with, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to do anything. Depending on job role, experience and type of disability, there are countless positions that those living with disabilities and not only fill but excel in.
However, the job role itself isn’t the only thing that impacts whether an employee can succeed. The workplace environment, systems and approach of an employer can have a huge effect on whether an employee is capable of succeeding there, whether they’re disabled or not!
However, there are a few systems that employers can adopt to make a disabled employee’s life easier and that’s what we’ll cover today.
Without a doubt, one of the most important aspects of thriving in a workplace is knowing that you are supported by management. Living with a disability is harder than you can imagine, and most disabled people have become very adept at noticing when people are fed up with them. It becomes very clear and very disheartening when an employer gives up an employee or treats them more like a hassle than an asset.
Managerial support doesn’t have to be complicated and it doesn’t require special treatment – all it needs is understanding and patience. Depending on the employee’s disability, the level of patience varies but the point stands that all people appreciate understanding. People with disabilities want to work, they just need a little assistance from management to help them fulfil their potential and benefit the business.
This one is obviously a very contentious topic but research does suggest that people with disabilities are being paid less in the same roles as others. Now, beyond standard means of discernment like experience and qualifications (which those with disabilities regularly share with able-bodied others), the primary argument for this is ‘lack of ability’. To this, there are two responses:
The first is that if two individuals match in both experience and qualifications, then clearly they have demonstrated the same abilities and capacities. Whether one is disabled or not should not and would not make a difference.
The second argument is that employers would need to invest in specialist equipment to support a disabled employee. Whilst discriminating against someone for their disability is illegal, some still view this argument as valid. The truth is, most businesses should (and do) already have all of the accessibility equipment that they need and even if they don’t, most spend only a very small amount on purchasing said equipment, depending on the disability of course. Furthermore, this money is very quickly recouped through the lower absenteeism and dedication that disabled employees show.
Disabled employees want the same as able-bodied employees. They seek the same bonus schemes and they seek the same pay as their equally experienced colleagues. It’s really that simple. If an employer isn’t sure what to pay then they should engage in a pay review of some kind to understand the standard pay in their industry.
This is linked to the previous point about managerial support but time is the most valuable thing in the world, and those with disabilities need it more than most. Time to settle into a new environment. Time to adapt. Time to act. Time to show what they can do. All that we ask for is a fair chance and often, disabled employees aren’t even given that.
Finally, we have faith. Particularly if this is an employee’s first venture into a new industry or job role, we all need our employer to have faith in our abilities and to believe that we can achieve. It’s easy to detect that someone doesn’t think much of you, whether you’re disabled or not. Show your employee that you appreciate the effort they’re putting in and believe that they can succeed – you’ll see that disabled employees can be some of the hardest workers in the world.
Hopefully, this article has highlighted some of the difficulties involved in being a disabled employee and with any luck, employers out there might have a better insight into how they can help their disabled staff thrive.