Retaining your talent and advancing careers
Did you know that it costs less to accommodate and provide accessible technology to a worker with a disability than to pay short- or long-term disability and cover the costs of recruiting and hiring for a vacant position?
It is likely that some of your employees may have been hired with a specific, disclosed disability while other employees may have been injured or experienced a health-related condition during their employment.
As your company grows and becomes more successful, it’s a good idea to develop strategies that promote and maintain the health, efficiency and growth of all highly skilled employees, including those with disabilities. Career advancement opportunities will keep employees invested in their jobs and your company’s mission.
Some strategies to increase the retention of your employees with disabilities include:
- Create a culture of open communication.
- Let employees know that they can voice health concerns or disability-related issues to management or appropriate Human Resources Personnel. This will help you better address any issues and will help maintain productivity.
- Develop a disclosure process. Employess who are or become disabled should understand that your company has policies to ensure job retention.
- Provide disability awareness and sensitivity training to new and current employees to foster a culture that is inclusive of people with disabilities.
- Be sure that your employees are aware of all available benefits and services
- Provide opportunities to help employees develop or maintain skills and recognize the skills that bring to your company.
- Create strategies that ensure the visibility of people with disabilities at all levels of employment, including management and executive level positions.
- Establish recognition programs to higlight accomplishments of your employees, including those with disabilities.
- Be certain that any initiatives related to disability include non-apparent disabilities, such as mental health and learning disabilities.
- Promote ongoing expansion and availability of accessible technology products, such as Video Remote Interpreting and other assistive devices. For an online assessment of your accessible technology needs, visit TriCare Home
- Empower employees interested in disability issues to provide input for related aspects of management decision-making.
- Consider flexible scheduling to help employees attend trainings and courses that may occur during general work hours.
- Allow employees to telecommute and job share to maintain and improve productivity. For more information, see the Telework Handbook
- Create a committee or employee affinity group to provide consultation and support to employees about issues related to disability and employment.
- Employer Innovations Online features a searchable database of case studies of real stories by leading employers. Learn about successful corporate approaches to addressing mental health in the workplace.
- Able & Willing has a captioned video of stories about people with disabilities and businesses working together to create successful mentorships, internships and long-term employment opportunities.
Workplace mentoring focuses on the personal and professional growth of the protégé within an occupational setting.1 Mentoring is beneficial to an organizational leaders because it:
- Helps members of your workforce learn important skills
- Helps employees make connections to advance within the company
- Gives organizational leaders an opportunity to cultivate and retain talent and
- Provides a window on the perspectives of those working in the lower levels of the organization.
Individuals with disabilities often don’t have equal access to mentoring relationships. When you include individuals with disabilities in new and existing mentoring programs, you are providing valuable opportunities to skilled workers while promoting an inclusive workforce.
- If your company has a formal mentoring program, learn if employees with disabilities have participated in the program and consider modification of the program to make it more useful for employees with disabilities.
- If your company does not have a formal mentoring program, conduct a needs assessment to determine whether such a program might be helpful to employees with and without disabilities.
- Utilize outside mentoring programs, that might connect your company to individuals with disabilities.
- Offer job shadowing days and mentoring programs so that employees may learn more about other positions within your company.
- Implement a peer mentorship program to support new and current employees with disabilities. Include lessons learned from the mentorships in company strategies and policies.
State and National Resources
- Young Entrepreneurs Program of the Partners for Youth with Disabilities (PYD) guides students through the process of starting a small business in Massachusetts. The program also matches students with mentors in a specific field or business.
- Held during the month of October, employers host Disability Mentoring Day where individuals with disabilities (mentees) are matched with workplace mentors with similar career interests. Mentees experience a typical day on the job and learn how to prepare for the world of work. This is a program of the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD).
Guides and Fact Sheets
- The Department of Labor’s fact sheet: Career-Focused Mentoring for Youth: The What, Why and How lays the foundation for career-focused mentoring of youth with disabilities.
- Paving the Way to Work: A Guide to Career-Focused Mentoring is a guide for individuals designing mentoring programs for youth, including youth with disabilities. Co-published by the National Center for Workers with Disabilities and the Office of Disability and Employment Policy.
Hare, R. (2008). Plotting the Course for Success: An Individualized Mentoring Plan for Youth with Disabilities. Washington, D.C.: National Consortium on Leadership and Disability/Youth, Institute for Educational Leadership.
1 Eby, L. T., Allen, T. D., Evans, S. C., Ng, T., & DuBois, D. L. (2008). Does mentoring matter? A multidisciplinary meta-analysis comparing mentored and non-mentored individuals. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 72(2), 254-267.