OK, here we go!!! We will be diving deep during the month of August to cover HOW does a company accomplish a disability inclusive workforce.
This is the magic, the secret sauce, so pay attention!!!
First a disclaimer, there are many ways to achieve a disability inclusive workforce. You may already have one. But they can always get better. Until you lived through it, I am not sure it is possible to fully understand how transformational it is to work in one. I will give it a shot here:
Imagine coming to work every day. Back up…
Imagine looking forwardto coming to work every day. Or logging into your computer (if you telecommute).
Imagine that is true because everyone else you work with is on a higher level, people get along, learn, work, socialize and work together. The workplace is more efficient, there is less (no) yelling because there is clear communication and managers know how to effectively get the best out of each individual. The workforce is more engaged with higher retention, so that there is minimal retraining or revolving doors of new employees. You can feel the sense of community at work and whether you are an introvert or extrovert, someone with a disability or not, tall, short, have a PHD or never finished high school, you are accepted and welcomed for who you are and appreciated for the value you provide every day.
That is what it is like when I walk into a client’s workplace and they have achieved sustainable disability inclusion.
For some companies, it is only a few worksites within the broader network. And that is OK, because they are learning how to replicate the magic. They have seen the benefits.
After more than 10 years of helping companies achieve sustainable disability inclusion, I can confidently say, I have seen it all! Each company needs to start where they are, figure out what is going to work, how far they can stretch and what mile marker means that they have arrived. Disability Inclusion APPEARS through the fog and chaos, through the grumblings of unhappy workers and systems not well aligned, a beacon of light encouraging you to go further, expand the practice to all workplaces and create a place where employees want to go to work, to stay and to give their job the devotion, effort and enthusiasm we all dream of.
It doesn’t happen overnight, it isn’t simple, and it isn’t hard. It takes intention, focus and priority. It needs to align with corporate strategy and support the company’s goals and mission.
Disability Inclusion starts with Assessment and ends with Sustainability. Here is a quick preview of the Deb Russell Inc.
Disability Inclusion APPEARS™:
Assess – It’s hard to know where you are going if you don’t know where you are! Assessments look at internal and external factors that can support disability inclusion, gauging the level of support and path of least resistance in order to get traction.
Plan – You have to know how to get there, before you leave! Wandering may get you there, but very rarely will it be cost effective! Plans are built on the key information collected during the assessment. This includes selecting the type of disability inclusion model(s) that will optimally move your company where you want to go and allow for a change in course if needed.
Prepare – Have you ever tried to go somewhere and realized your car had bald tires, a gas tank on empty and a cracked windshield? Even if you have a brand new car gassed up and ready to go, you have to pack clothes for the climates you will be traveling in, snacks and other distractions for the kids/passengers and perhaps learn a new language (depending on where you are going).
Execute – Now you are on the road! You have to pay attention, follow the map, use your directional signal for lane changes, stop for gas, sleep in the hotels you have reservations for (ooops, did you forget that part of prepare?). You continue to operate the car, engage with your fellow passengers and the others you find along your way as you pay attention to where you are going.
Adjust - Every once in a while you run into a fork in the road or a detour. It is hard to account for every possibility along the way. Maybe the kids get sick, maybe you hear about and decide you have to see the largest ball of string in the US. Some parts of a journey, like the weather, are unpredictable and you just need to be prepared to make decisions once you are on the road. It is impossible to know the future and with so many variables in your trip, you want to keep an open mind.
Replicate – Once you have figured out how to get where you are going, you will want to tell others how to make that trip- or maybe it was just a vacation and you have to go back home, but you will want to go there again. Be sure you know the most effective and pleasant way to get there, write it down and then use it on your next trip, or when you send your friends there.
Sustainability – As with all treasures, there are things to consider to maintain the beauty and ensure that all can benefit over time. So, you make sure everyone knows how to get there. You ensure that the trip continues to meet your needs and that it will be there even after you are gone.