About 15% of the global population has a disability of some kind. Given how common both physical and mental disabilities are, accommodating disabilities in the workplace and creating an inclusive workplace culture is an absolute must. Here’s what you need to know in order to plan for, learn, and train your workforce to be more diverse and inclusive.

How to plan for employees with disabilities in the workplace

The first step in planning for employees with disabilities in the workplace is to start planning an accessible workplace for everyone. This means addressing these needs and requirements without singling anyone out. Start by creating an inclusive set of company-wide workplace standards for health, safety, and daily operations that take into account both physical and mental disabilities.

Add the following key points to your plan: 

  • Onsite emergency preparedness, including updated evacuation protocols that make use of freight elevators and ramps where possible.
  • Home office accommodations, with an outline of tools, resources, and equipment provided by your business so employees with disabilities don’t have to spend out of pocket.
  • Work-life balance rules, specifically ones that encourage flexible work hours and in-office areas dedicated to privacy or rest. 

These three important areas are just a jumping-off point for your own plan. As you continue to diversify your team, guidelines like these will become second nature in your workplace both in-person and online. This will set up newly hired employees with disabilities to succeed and be happy

Why is disability diversity in the workplace important?

When it comes to diverse hiring, Caroline Casey, Founder of disability inclusion initiative The Valuable 500, says it best, “Making this change should not be a chore. It is an opportunity.” 

In addition to the benefits of disability diversity in the workplace, making necessary policy changes will pay off immediately for team members who have disabilities you don’t even know about. And it will continue to pay off in the future as global culture and generational shifts brought on by Millennial and Gen Z professionals who continue to prioritize inclusive business practices as both consumers and employees. 

Can you get disability etiquette training for employees?

Yes — disability etiquette training for employees is widely available. Start educating employees on different types of disabilities and relevant statistics. Then, use a project management software to plan, organize, and execute your training. Sources provided by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy and the Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion offer lots of additional information on inclusive hiring practices and creating an accessible workplace.

Top tips for disability etiquette in the workplace

  1. Foster a workplace environment that values employee wellbeing over margins through verbal and social support. Think open office hours, volunteer childcare aid, and ride shares to and from work as needed. 
  2. Extend health and disability insurance benefits for employees with disabilities as long as possible. 
  3. When employees with disabilities miss work for prolonged periods of time, create a transition plan to help ease them back into their role. Include both personal (signed cards, their favorite takeout lunch) and professional (new desk accommodations, one-on-one catch ups on what they missed) touches. 
  4. Never assume a mental or physical disability will negatively impact workplace performance. 
  5. Lead ongoing check-ins and welcome honest feedback about your disabilities policy. 
  6. Offer healthy frozen meals and nourishing snacks in shared workplace kitchens for those who aren’t able to regularly prepare their own. 
  7. Remember that while some disabilities are observable, others are not. Both types require accommodations and employees who have them are not required to provide written requests or provide proof when asking for help. 
  8. Only HR personnel are permitted by law to discuss disabilities with employees. These HR professionals should make this clear to other employees.
  9. Employees with disabilities are not required to disclose information about their disability. You are permitted to ask them questions but only performance-based and accommodation-related ones. Still, HR should be involved in this process. 
  10. Disability etiquette in the workplace should go beyond existing team members to other employee touchpoints such as hiring, interviews, and even contract termination. 
  11. Use the Department of Labor’s Job Accommodation Network for help with education, training, and suggested tools. 

How to plan for accommodating disabilities in the workplace with Wrike

Wrike helps HR managers and company directors create and execute workplace adjustment plans with project management tools that identify every task alongside deadlines, effort levels, supporting document storage, and in-task communication through @mentions. 

Wrike also helps HR leaders plan diversity etiquette training for staff by organizing templates, outlining learning phases, and scheduling meetings with everyone based on their availability even if they’re working on multiple projects. 

Accommodating disabilities in the workplace is all about education, planning, and training. Use Wrike’s two-week free trial to develop your disability etiquette training program through advanced collaboration tools like visual timelines and custom workflow statuses to keep everyone up to date on the latest best practices without disrupting daily operations.