How to Support Your Employees and Eliminate Workplace Barriers

22 September 2021

There are many benefits to hiring a diverse workforce. As an employer, building an employee-centric, inclusive work environment will only improve your business. 

To help you put your employees first, find tips and resources below on reducing workplace barriers for employees with different abilities. 

1.    Consider potential barriers.
Just because you can’t see a disability, doesn’t mean that an employee isn’t impacted in some way. Take some time to consider how your office procedures and policies can eliminate barriers.

Here are a few things to consider:

  • How can you remove barriers in the office workspace for individuals with mobility issues? Watch out for chairs or equipment that make it more difficult to maneuver around the building.
  • Do you provide services or equipment for employees with visual impairments? This could be as simple as using accessible non-serif font in documents or remembering to insert mouseover text for digital images (so that screen readers can describe them). To learn more, check out the CNIB Foundation’s Clear Print Accessibility Guide.
  • How can you adapt your meetings to assist employees with hearing impairments? Some individuals rely on reading lips to follow conversations, so make sure to face your audience while speaking or turn on your camera during a virtual conference call.

2.    Facilitate open and respectful communication with all employees.
It’s important to create a respectful and supportive work environment, one that will promote conversations around potential work barriers. Be sure to avoid singling out employees though. Find opportunities to allow all staff to provide input on reducing barriers in your work environment. If you have a small, tight-knit team, you might ask for their ideas during a meeting. Be aware that not everyone is comfortable participating or drawing attention to the ways they’ve been impacted. If possible, offer a second option that allows employees to submit their feedback anonymously.

3.    Learn more about available Assistive Technology Services.
As a leader, take some time to learn about the support services available to employees with disabilities (And reading this post is a great start!). Here are a few services you should know about:

  • WorkBC programs can help by supporting your employees with accessibility services and equipment. 
  • Staff at WorkBC Centres can help each employee explore their disability-related employment support options. 
  • Assistive Technology Services (ATS) can support individuals who are at risk of losing their jobs because of barriers. 

By encouraging your employees to actively seek the services available to them, you will contribute to creating a positive work environment for everyone.