Today’s pandemic may be one of the most challenging times for many people. Under current conditions, some work is even harder to accomplish than when it is done on average days. This struggle does not exempt those employees with disabilities, who are prone to a higher risk of infection to COVID-19.
As employers, it is in your best interest to take care of your employees. During this pandemic, there are things you can do to ease some of your employees’ burdens, especially your employees with disabilities. We listed down below a few of these things. They are practical advice on how to meet the needs of your employees with disabilities during this difficult time.
Read on to know more.
Offer Reasonable COVID-19 Work Accommodations
According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), employers should extend reasonable accommodations to employees. However, some accommodations that apply to regular days may no longer be appropriate considering the changes brought about by COVID-19. Hence, as employers, you should be more flexible and should offer reasonable accommodations suitable for the present situation, especially to your disabled employees.
In response to the COVID-19 lockdown, work from home arrangements is prevalent nowadays. You can aid by providing work tools for their homes. Also, if employees live far from the office and their presence is necessary, you can give a space in the office where they can stay for the duration.
You could also ask them what changes they would be comfortable with. Let them know you will support them in providing reasonable requests for accommodations. This initiative will help reduce the stress they feel due to the pandemic.
Adjust Rules for COVID-19 Absences
You can make specialized accounting for absences of those employees who have a compromised immune system and those who have a disability. Since they are the most affected people in this pandemic, be more considerate of absences by these employees.
You may be more lenient with HR policies if these employees tend to exceed the maximum number of sick days allowable. Allow them to take care of their health first and observe the recommended 14-day quarantine period.
Let them know of this adjustment to ease them from the fear and anxiety of losing their jobs.
Keep in Touch With Employees
During these difficult times, it helps to keep communication open with your employees. Regularly check up on your employees who need special accommodations to know if they are okay, or to inquire whether they need assistance.
You can schedule stress-management online meetings or webinars to see how they are coping with the situation. Show that the company cares for their welfare. Try to maintain good connections.
If the employees stop communicating, or if they seem rather unusual in one of your meetings, it may indicate that they are not well. If that is the case, you should make sure any accommodations you have provided are sufficient to help them perform the essential duties of their jobs.
Some employees live alone. Consequently, try to stay connected and show them that you care. It is only a natural response to COVID-19 not only as an employer but also as a person.
Note that being in constant communication helps build a stronger employer-employee relationship. Such a harmonious relationship will be beneficial to the company’s growth in the future.
Send a Company Care Package
Employees with disabilities may be more affected than other employees during the pandemic. They may be more limited in their ability to get out of their homes to take care of basic needs. They may not be able to get around comfortably since they have a higher risk of infection and complications to COVID-19. As such, they may not be able to provide for their necessities.
As caring employers, you can send company care packages to your employees. You may include in these packages necessities, food items, toiletries, and other things that they will need during this time.
Sending them a care package is a clear way of communicating to them that you care for your employees.
Set up Virtual Social Events
Seeing familiar faces will help lessen the stress and anxiety that the employees feel during the pandemic. Hence, you can set up social events online that will help your employees stay connected.
You can set up virtual coffee breaks, happy hours, and workplace celebrations online. Perhaps, an employee’s birthday is coming up. You can set up a virtual event for such an occasion.
By keeping people connected, you are helping your employees, especially those with disabilities, feel more comfortable. In a way, you are also building a strong bond within your team.
Provide Easy Access to Relevant Information
Make sure all employees have easy access to news and information. This information need not always be workplace-related.
You can create a platform where employees may access current news, information drives, self-development articles, and company announcements. Keep them up to date on the latest developments. This initiative can boost the morale of your employees, especially employees with disabilities.
Company announcements should be placed in a platform where they would be easily accessible to all employees if they want to revisit them later on.
To do this, you can utilize social media platforms, forums, or similar services. You can also create an online community website exclusive to your employees.
Not only that, but you can also place on your website emergency hotlines or contact information of important people they may need. You can make available contact numbers of the company’s human resource personnel, local hospital, nearest police office, physicians, and lawyers.
It’s good to have a directory for certain needs available to your employees. Perhaps, in the unlikely event that they might meet a car crash during a pandemic, your employees will know where to look for auto accident attorneys. Or perhaps, if he feels sick, he can call on a physician in the directory to do consultations over the phone. These are conveniences that corporate leaders should make available to employees, especially those with disabilities.
Going through a pandemic is difficult by itself. Hence, a healthy support system is necessary to get through this difficult time. As employers, we are responsible for the physical and mental well-being of our employees. Those employees who are significantly affected are employees with disabilities. Following the guidance mentioned above, your employees with disabilities will be comforted to know that the company they work with has a strong support response during this pandemic.