Throughout Spring 2021, NBDC is publishing a blog series on how employers can create a more welcoming workplace for their employees with specific types of disabilities. People with disabilities are not a monolithic group; accommodations can vary greatly, depending on an individual’s type of disability. This blog is the first of the four-part series.
Chronic conditions are more widespread than people often realize. With diagnoses including cancer, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, and arthritis, the chronic conditions community is vast. This community has experiences that, in some ways, mirror the experiences of other types of disabilities, but come with unique perspectives. Like other people with disabilities, employees with chronic conditions can thrive in the workplace.
With this in mind, here are four ways employers can be welcoming to individuals with chronic conditions:
- Offer flex hours as an accommodation. Offering employees options such as flex-hours is a supportive, cost-free accommodation. By allowing employees to choose the hours they work, you’re giving space for people with chronic conditions manage flare-ups and other dynamic aspects of their condition, including attending medical appointments. Remember: a last-minute schedule change due to medical needs is not a reflection of an employee’s work ethic.
- Designate an employee wellness room. A wellness room is a quiet room/area within the workplace where employees with can go, if needed, to unwind, self-administer a medical treatment or take medication in private. Employers often have wellness rooms for nursing mothers. This space may eliminate the need for an employee to be out of the office and provides a means of support in the place of work.
- Give the option for employees to work remotely. Telework programs, arrangements that allow employees not to commute to an office space, can greatly improve the quality of life, productivity, and efficiency of individuals with chronic conditions. Many people with chronic conditions need to carefully budget their energy reserves. By removing the expectation that they need to expend energy on a commute, they can instead use this energy on actual job functions.
- Encourage open communication. Fostering a relationship based on open communication and trust with employees not only helps everyone feel comfortable and included, it can also be essential in times of medical need. If an employee has a seizure in the office, for example, a previously agreed upon plan of action could literally save their life. Remember to be non-judgmental and relaxed if an employee decides to disclose a chronic diagnosis.
How do you support your employees with chronic illnesses?
For more information about disability and employment best practices, contact NBDC and learn more about the benefits of becoming a NBDC corporate partner.