The information below will help ensure that your new recruit will have a good start and thrive in the role.
The hiring conversation
The process of on-boarding a team member with disability is generally the same as for any other candidate. As some new employees will be unsure about asking, it is important to ask the new employee if they need any workplace adjustments to perform the role at the time of offer. The agreed workplace adjustments can then be confirmed in their letter of offer.
In some cases, it may be appropriate to invite them in to look over the workspace to check if the desk set-up, seating or lighting arrangements will be suitable.
The necessary adjustments should be arranged as quickly as possible so that the person can start work on day one and to avoid a disability discrimination complaint.
Evidence of need for workplace adjustments
Hiring managers and their agencies need to be conscious of the level of red tape employees with disability are subjected to in terms of the burden of proof/medical documentation they are required to produce to request an adjustment.
Managers should operate in accordance with applicable agency policies and guidelines, but ideally should be able to exercise a level of discretion in determining the need for formal advice from a medical or Work Health and Safety professional rather than considering it a standard process to be rigorously applied. Feedback from people with disability seeking employment or adjustments at work indicates that this can be a stressful and time-consuming process.
Build a disability aware team
To successfully integrate an employee with disability into your team, it is essential that all team members learn more about inclusion needs. The PSC, in collaboration with sector employees and experts, has developed two disability awareness e-learning modules for NSW government sector managers and employees.
The 2019 People Matter Employee Survey results showed that people with disability in our sector report much higher rates of bullying and less engagement with their agency than the broader workforce. The disability awareness e-learning modules contain the foundational information we all need to confidently and effectively work with colleagues who may have a disability and make our sector a more inclusive and accessible place for all.
In addition to general awareness training, it may be important to let the team know more about the person before they start work, to the extent it may be relevant to working together effectively. For example, if hiring a person who is deaf and uses Auslan (Australian sign language) to communicate, it may be appropriate to share information about their preferred communication methods and how to approach them if you need to gain their attention. Remember that you may only share information with the permission of the person with disability.
A good first day on the job
The first day in a new job is daunting for any employee. But for people with disability it can be particularly challenging if everything they need to be fully productive is not in place when they start work. The tips below will help to make your new employee feel welcomed and valued:
- Send out an e-mail to everyone in the workplace so they’re prepared to welcome the new employee. It is not necessary to mention their disability unless there is an important reason for doing so, and only with the person’s permission
- Make sure reception has prior notice about the new employee’s arrival time and who they should contact
- Introduce the new employee to the work team and others in the workplace
- Show the employee the location of bathrooms, accessible toilets (if required), kitchens, lockers and other staff facilities
- Provide induction materials and training resources in a format suited to the person’s needs
- Let the employee know about flexible working policies and how to request it
- Provide the employee with information about how to share information about their disability in workforce profile data if they wish to
- Offer peer support by providing contact details for a Disability Employee Network (e.g. in the agency, department or cluster)
- Encourage open communication by having regular one-on-one conversations and supporting the employee as needs arise
- Work with the safety wardens to devise a Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan as soon as possible if needed. This may include the use of text and email emergency alerts for people with sensory disabilities.
We know from the People Matter Employee Survey results that workplace adjustments have a significant impact on employee engagement. Engagement drives productivity and workplace satisfaction.
According to the 2019 People Matter Employee Survey results, successful workplace adjustments increase the engagement scores of people with disability to beyond the sector average to 68%. However, for employees with unsuccessful adjustments, their engagement dives to 41% indicating a deeply negative employment experience.
This is why it is very important to:
- Complete a review of workplace adjustment arrangements for your employees within a short period of time (e.g. 4-6 weeks) after the adjustments have been put in place. This will ensure any fine-tuning or corrections to the adjustment arrangements can be made to make sure they are working.
- Check-in with your employee on their workplace adjustments at regular one-on-one meetings, as individual needs and the nature of disability can change over time.
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