Oct 11, 2021 | Ruth Hartgen, PHR, Director of HR at HRCI
National Disability Employment Awareness Month Activities for Your HR Team
National Disability Employment Awareness Month activities are designed to both educate your team on disability employment and create lasting change. But you can’t implement substantial changes customized to your workforce without first knowing the state of disability employment at your company.
Collect anonymous disability demographic information from your employees through surveys. Ask basic questions about what HR can do to help them perform their jobs more easily and effectively. This data can provide context for potential changes to implement to workplace policies and processes.
In general, asking employees how they work best, regardless of disability status, can help you support them better. Make sure flexible work options remain available, and that you’re communicating them to the workforce.
Audit Your Accommodation Request Process
National Disability Employment Awareness Month provides an excellent reminder to refresh your disability awareness resources. It’s also a good time to ensure employees can easily request accommodations. “A commitment to disability inclusion — exhibited both from the top down and from the bottom up — that shows examples of accommodations working in the organization can say more than written policies,” Balakos says.
Audit the accommodation request process at each stage from attraction and hiring to professional development and performing daily tasks. Focus on providing a clear way for employees to seek accommodations. As you assess the process, consider how you might implement a confidential and anonymous mechanism for collecting feedback on barriers to the accommodation request process.
The Job Accommodation Network provides useful resources for job accommodations, as well as free consulting services to assist employers. In October, when disability awareness is top of mind, set aside some time to audit job descriptions to ensure they only reflect the essential requirements of the role. Then set a date to carry out another audit in the next 3-6 months.
Develop Microlearning Modules to Keep Disability Awareness Top of Mind
National Disability Employment Awareness Month activities educate HR and company leaders (especially supervisors) on important topics related to disability employment. That education shouldn’t be confined to just one month: Take some time in October to build out a microlearning curriculum to keep disability topics top of mind throughout the year.
Consider implementing quarterly training on disability-related topics. These could be linked to other awareness events. During Mental Health Awareness Month in May, for example, you might implement training on what constitutes an effective mental illness accommodation. Reach out to disability organizations to provide training or information throughout the year.
Remember that managers don’t always understand the “why” behind training. Make it clear this isn’t just to help these individuals: It benefits the business as well. Help them understand the business case for diversity and inclusion, from maintaining compliance to improved productivity to opening a wider talent pool to hire from. “Lead through example,” Balakos says. “Let managers and coworkers see the value of diversity in teams.”