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As The Workforce Shifts, How Should HR Address Accessibility?

Posted by Insightlink on 02/22/19

Disability is a part of everyday life for millions of Americans. Despite progressive labor laws and a competitive market, just 3.2% of the workforce is disabled, according to USA Today. Furthermore, BLS statistics for 2017 suggest that just 18% of disabled people are employed, compared to 65% of non-disabled people. However, again according to USA Today, this is set to change amid low unemployment figures which is making worker retention difficult. Essentially, the market is encouraging employers to take on more disabled members of staff, and this will have an impact on the accessibility and quality of the work environment.

What modern accessibility looks like

Accessibility requirements do not exist in a vacuum, and like every other part of life, technology is transforming the mission to address adjustments. Most importantly, wearable tech and the internet of things is helping to enable disabled people in ways not seen before. Job roles can be taken away from the confines of the desk and into the home, and indeed, 70% of people work remotely at least one day of the week. If this is a possibility for your workplace, it will help to enable disabled members of staff without compromising productivity.

However, it is not sufficient to create an at-home-only role with consultation or to not make accessibility adaptations to the place of work if necessary. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the employer is bound to make reasonable adjustments. If the bulk of your workforce works in the office for the majority of the time, a conscious or implicit decision to exclude a disabled member of staff from the work environment could well be treated as discriminatory.

HR solutions for today

The most important factor, then, is to see what adjustments disabled staff and indeed their colleagues require. Surveys are the easiest and most immediate way to achieve this, especially with an angling towards health. You can also check leadership understanding of business critical legislation to ensure that none of your work teams are falling foul of disability laws. This will help to ensure that any disabled members of staff are able to work as they like while also safeguarding the business in a continuity sense.
Disability is also likely to increase, according to the World Health Organization, as a direct result of the global obesity epidemic. Statistically, 50% of all men and 60% of all women will be affected by 2050, and this should pose a long-term question against business planning. Again, putting steps into action today can help to address this. Survey your staff to see their opinions on how the situation is now, how the business could change, and with any potential changes in the near future.

Disability is a challenge faced by members of the workforce every day, and signs suggest that the number of disabled people in active employment will continue to increase. Your business must be prepared so as to be fair to potential employees. Take steps with your workforce today to gauge the situation and make the environment fair. 


About Insightlink:

Insightlink Communications is a leader in full service employee surveys and offers a range of employee survey products and services to fit their client's needs. With over 18 years of experience, Insightlink's reputation has been built on giving organizations the knowledge they need to create effective change using their acclaimed employee research, analytics, benchmarking and survey methodologies. Insightlink's expertise in data collection reporting and analytics takes the pressure off organizations that find data overwhelming and daunting creating reports that are digestible and understandable, simple and easy to understand for organizations of any size and experience level. 
For more information please contact us at 866-802-8095 ext 705 or visit our website here.


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