The Americans with Disabilities Act has played a significant role in helping those with disabilities become essential parts of a company's team of employees. The focus on reasonable accommodations allows these individuals to showcase their unique talents and their skills and become an additive part of a company rather than a subtractive part.
For some small-business owners who have never employed a staff member with a disability, it may seem daunting to try and figure out how to best accommodate the needs of these employees. Here are a few things to keep in mind to make your company accessible and welcoming to all staff members.
Even if you aren't currently employing someone with a disability, it's not too soon to begin overhauling your workplace to ensure it's as accessible as possible. The Society for Human Resource Management recommended conducting an accessibility audit. This doesn't just apply to the physical space, although that's a good place to start. The source noted that you should turn this inspection to your recruiting and hiring practices as well.
For example, does your company currently employ anyone with disabilities? If not, how many, if any, disabled candidates have applied to your business' job postings? One way to ensure the best results is to actually ask candidates with disabilities to assess your online forms, applications and websites for ease of use.
It's important to recognize that workers with disabilities may require additional resources at work, and it's the responsibility of you as the employer to make this available. The ADA lays out the golden rule in its requirement of "reasonable accommodations," though it's up to employers and employees to work together to establish what exactly this entails on a case-by-case basis. As the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission outlined, this can include things like specialized equipment – wheelchair ramps, for example – or it can mean modifying the type or amount of work an employee does. A communication channel for workers to express concerns, offer suggestions or receive support is also essential.
Small-business owners who struggle with understanding their responsibilities as outlined by the ADA can turn to PEO companies to receive expert advice and guidance on establishing a policy and workplace that is welcoming and compliant. Working closely with HR services to overhaul hiring, recruiting and management strategies can make the process easier for everyone involved.