Only around half of 15-64 year olds with a disability participate in the labour force, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. With over 2 million Australians of working age registered as having some form of disability, this is a lot of talent you could be tapping into.
1) Be flexible
Flexibility is key when it comes to supporting disabled employees. This could involve something as simple as ensuring the individual’s work station is close to an accessible bathroom, changing his or her work pattern or re-allocating certain tasks that the staff member in question might find difficult to complete.
To do this, it helps to find out as much as possible about the disability – ask exactly how it might impact the person’s ability to do their job, and make reasonable adjustments to accommodate this. Making the workplace fully accessible – installing ramps, ensuring the lift is working and providing large print documentation for those who are visually impaired are just some things you could do to help. Remember that any reasonable adjustments you make can usually be paid for by the Employment Assistance Fund, so it’s worth looking into this as you make these arrangements.
Changing the interview process will make it easier for many disabled candidates.
2) Provide support
It’s important that disabled employees feel supported throughout their time at your organisation. Consider hiring someone to guide him or her through their day-to-day tasks. Be clear and patient with the employee in question and ensure you talk to the employee directly, rather than their support worker.
It’s important to make sure you’re supporting your other staff members as well – ensure they understand the disability and how it might affect the person’s work and how they interact with others.
3) Reconsider the interview process
Often, those with disabilities – especially one that impacts how the individual interacts in social situations – will find the interview a daunting process. Sometimes it’s better to suggest a work trial to find out how suited he or she is to the job, or focus your attention on references and how well the person has performed in past employment or at school. If the candidate has let you know they have a disability beforehand, find out exactly what you can do to make the interview more straightforward. For example, this could involve changing the location of the interview to somewhere that’s easier to access.
The Talent RISE foundation seeks to find meaningful solutions to Australia’s youth unemployment crisis. We’ll help employers to set up partnerships, provide job placements and work to inspire and equip young people with confidence and job-ready skills to ensure they have the opportunities they deserve. For information about how employers can get involved, contact the team today.