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Via deoc : 10 ways you can make your workplace accessible and inclusive to persons with disabilities

1 in 7 persons experience disability in one form or another.

One can be born with a disability, or one can acquire a disability due to illness, accident or a man-made tragedy like a terror attack or a physical confrontation.

People get disabled during natural disasters.

Many are rendered disabled after a stroke.

In the Armed Forces and the police force people routinely get into temporary or permanent disabilities.

Even at your workplace someone can suddenly become disabled due to an illness or an accident.

Hence, disability is a reality and it is not as rare as it often seems.

If you don’t see many people with disabilities around you, it is mostly because there are numerous barriers that keep them away.

Most of the people who are kept away due to these physical barriers can be your customers and clients, your employees, your patrons, or even your caretakers. There is a big part of the world that is kept away from using your services simply because your workplace is not accessible.

There are people with disabilities with immense talent. There are also people with disabilities who have great purchasing power. There are people, who, given a conducive environment, can perform exceptionally well for your organization.

You are missing an opportunity to work with and work for a multitude of individuals that can bring with them a wealth of skills, talents and business opportunities, simply because your workplace is inaccessible.

Why there is a greater need to make your workplace accessible to people with disabilities?

Primarily, there are two reasons:

  1. It doesn’t make sense to exclude such a big part of the population simply when just a few structural changes can allow them to be a productive and contributing part of your environment.
  2. It is required by law. The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act (the RPWD Act), 2016 mandates equality and non-discrimination and these attributes can only manifest if people with special needs are not excluded due to structural and attitudinal barriers.

If you haven’t considered making your workplace accessible the sudden introduction of the idea may put you in a jam and the first reaction might be resistance. That’s normal.

This is why it is very important to acquaint yourself why there is a need to make your workplace accessible to persons with disabilities and how, it is not as difficult a task as it may seem in the beginning. Listed below are 10 ways you can start your journey towards making your workplace accessible for people with disabilities.

10 ways you can make your workplace accessible and inclusive to people with disabilities

  1. Begin with an Equal Opportunity Policy: An Equal Opportunity Policy will act like a guideline. It will give you a well-defined set of dos and don’ts in your HR policy, procurement, , supplier management, infrastructure management, redressal system and customer and client management procedures.
  2. Allocate responsibility for maintaining an accessible workplace: It is often difficult to implement far-reaching plans without allocating responsibility. There should be someone, or a group of people, responsible for maintaining an accessible and inclusive environment at your workplace and people should know whom to approach in case there is a problem.
  3. Sensitize and train your staff: Your staff is a big part of creating an accessible and inclusive environment at your workplace. Ultimately, it’s your staff that will be mostly interacting with people with disabilities. You may like to partner with an accessibility and inclusion consulting organization like DEOC that has horizontal as well as vertical experience delivering high-quality accessibility and inclusion training to organizations and businesses.
  4. Create a safer work environment: People with disabilities are more prone to being vulnerable in case your working environment is unsafe. If you have a retail store, keep walking floor space in the aisles free of obstacles. Instruct your staff to avoid leaving boxes and crates just about everywhere. Make sure there are no protruding objects a person with visual impairment can run into.
  5. Have accessible digital properties: Your digital properties like your website, mobile app and documents might be the first point-of-contact a person with disabilities may have with your organization or business. Make sure that your website is W3C compliant and people with disabilities can interact with your mobile app as easily as possible.
  6. Have an accessible entrance: Whether you run a restaurant, a retail store or customer service center service, is it possible for people with disabilities to even enter your place? People with wheelchairs should be able to use a safe ramp. People with visual impairments should be able to use the tactile signs to find their way in and out.
  7. Ensure easy access to your services: Providing an accessible entrance and then not making doing business with you accessible defeats the entire purpose. People with disabilities prefer to do as many things as possible, independently, so make sure that once they are at your premises, they can conduct business with you on their own, including interacting at the reception and carrying out transactions at the counter.
  8. Make amenities accessible: Amenities like washrooms and water coolers should be accessible to people with special needs because once they are at your premises, they should be able to use them just like your other customers and clients, and employees. It can make things worse for them if you allow them to enter your workplace by providing an accessible entrance and then make it extremely difficult for them to spend time there.
  9. Provide accommodations: Persons with disability may require a modified working environment to give their best. For example, if a person with visual disability needs a screen reader or a person with hearing disability needs an interpreter for attending a training or someone who has difficulty in using hands to type may require a dictation software or someone needs certain flexibility in work timing. Making these individualized arrangements can make your workplace sufficiently accessible to persons with disabilities.
  10. Collaborate with an disability consultant: As mentioned above, creating an inclusive workplace isn’t just a social decision, now it is also a legal decision. Hence, it is better to collaborate with an consultant that can conduct a qualified audit of your policies. Processes and infrastructure and suggest recommendations according to the standards and best practices. . A. You can contact DEOC for more details.

Concluding remarks on making your workplace accessible and inclusive to people with special needs

Creating an accessible and inclusive environment is a decision that is going to have a long-term impact at your workplace. Structural changes are important and with little planning and investment, they can be implemented without much problem. A bigger problem might be attitudinal and policy changes because they will involve bringing all your employees on board and reaching a consensus.

Most of the troubles manifest due to lack of awareness, exposure, orientation and a well-defined policy. This is where an experienced organization like DEOC can help you.

Via Entrepreneur : 9 Productivity Mistakes You’re Making in the First 10 Minutes of Your Day (Infographic)

From setting goals to drinking coffee, these bad morning habits might surprise you.

There are a number of things you’re probably doing every morning that are actually hindering your productivity.

If you’re an avid coffee drinker, you might be surprised to find out that drinking coffee between 8 and 10 a.m can make you more stressed throughout the day. That’s because caffeine early in the morning interferes with the time that the stress hormone, cortisol, is peaking in your body. It’s best to get your fix between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

When you get into the office and try to jump right into the top of your to-do list, you might find yourself confused and not very productive. When you don’t let your brain empty and refresh before starting a project or task, it loses a sense of control, becomes overwhelmed and ultimately, makes you less productive. Something else to avoid is checking email or social media right when you wake up. Typically, after checking your inbox, it takes a person at least 25 minutes to get back into a productive state. If you start your day off reading and responding to email after email, it will take you a long time to get back on track.

Another surprising mistake is setting self-imposed goals. Setting goals and deadlines for yourself might seem like an obvious productivity hack, but it turns out, that’s not the case. Instead, share your deadlines with others and you’ll feel more pressure and responsibility to get things done.

Check out resume.io’s infographic below for more productivity mistakes you’re likely making in the first 10 minutes of your day.

Via Forbes : The Five C’s Of Effective Communication

Have you ever been in a meeting and felt like others were dismissing your opinions and input? Or do you feel like you can’t get your point across when requesting something in a conversation? One of the main reasons we don’t feel respected in the workplace, as in any other setting, is a lack of dynamic communication.

When we don’t feel heard at work, where we usually spend most of our waking hours, we can become incredibly frustrated, judgmental and apt to misinterpret situations way more often. It can lead to breakdowns and unengaged employees or leaders if they don’t feel valued and respected. Bad communication creates tension and a negative dynamic and environment. Ultimately, communication is the key to building trust interpersonally and within a team, and trust is essential to great performance and outcomes.

The goal is to master communication and have a clear road map of how to use it to create positive outcomes in the workplace and in every conversation. Communication is key for creating wins for all parties involved, including employees and leaders, as well as team culture, the organization, customer service and ultimately the bottom line. When the focus of a company is on its product, service or customer support instead of solving internal issues, it can increase productivity, profits and employee engagement.

When initiating a conversation, always make sure the time is right and that you have the other person’s undivided attention. Here are the five C’s of effective communication:

1. Be clear.

To communicate effectively, you have to know what you want and take ownership for your own needs. Before communicating your issue, identify it and know what you want and need from the other person. When you experience an issue, try to get clarity on what the issue is and why it shows up for you. Do you feel disrespected and shut down when a colleague is not open to hearing your opinion in a meeting? Understand what value of yours isn’t being honored, and own it. It’s your responsibility to initiate the tough conversation.

Communicate the issue directly without misinterpreting or reacting emotionally, judgmentally or defensively. Take ownership of your experience, and be transparent. Be as clear and objective as possible.

2. Be concise.

Keep your requests direct, simple and to the point. The less wordy, the better. Don’t get caught up in the story — focus on getting your point across in the most succinct manner and moving the conversation forward.

3. Provide a compelling request.

Once you make a request for change, you’re in negotiations. After communicating the issue, provide the person with a suggested solution that you’d be happy with. If you feel shut down and dismissed in meetings whenever you bring your area of expertise into consideration, first ask the other person if there’s a deeper issue. Then, ask how you might resolve it, and make your request to be listened to in the future. Explain that it’s just as important for you to express your opinion or expertise, be involved in the conversation, and share your thoughts on the topic to provide necessary feedback.

4. Be curious.

Listen to what the other person needs. Once you make a request, be curious about what the other person’s issues and objectives are and what they might need to fulfill your request. It’s not all about you. Understand where the other person is coming from because they also have needs and issues that need to be addressed.

5. Be compassionate.

Make an attempt to understand the other person. Listen carefully to their feedback, and put your own assumptions aside. When a person feels like they’re being heard, they tend to open up more and feel safer and more secure in the conversation, which can lead to a more trusting relationship. Having the ability to understand, recognize and appreciate the way others feel is crucial to resolving conflict, managing change and making tough decisions. Strive to negotiate a win for both parties by taking the other person’s perspective into consideration. Get a clear understanding of what it would take for both of you to get a positive outcome.

Dynamic communication is one of the most important skills to develop. It’s beneficial not only in the workplace but also in virtually every area of your life. It’s important to understand that communication is what builds bridges and connects people in a powerful way. When you’re able to get your point across in an objective manner, others are more likely to open up, see your perspective and negotiate with you. Communication is the key to influencing others and creating powerful teams, relationships and joint forces to achieve successful outcomes.

Via Stuff : Four ways for women to upskill in the workplace

With the spotlight increasingly on women in leadership and a concerted drive to closing the gender pay gap, there’s no time better than right now to make your mark at work. This means that it is the perfect time for you to take stock of your career and plot a path to getting ahead over the next year and beyond.

Here are four steps to upskilling that you can take today:

1. Leave your comfort zone

Upskilling requires trying new things and means an initial leap of faith. Backing yourself isn’t always easy, but it’s the first step to gaining the confidence of others. Be prepared to accept any new opportunities that are offered, and put your hand up for those that aren’t. If you aren’t successful, consider what specific skills and training you need to be chosen next time.

2. Join the conversation

The big issues affecting women in the workforce only gather momentum if people are willing to talk about them – and listen to others share their struggles and triumphs. Events that bring a variety of speakers together are an inspiring way to learn from others. The Women of Influence Forum event, in Auckland on September 18, offers an opportunity to hear from speakers making a difference in New Zealand. They include writer, anthropologist and environmentalist, Dame Anne Salmond; researcher, psychiatrist and Māori advocate, Dr Hinemoa Elder; and politician, community organiser and former journalist, Chlöe Swarbrick. The event will also include panel discussions on the most important ways to achieve true equality in the workplace, and what the next big goals are for women.

3. Broaden your mentors

Cultivate relationships with people who can help you grow. There’s much to be learned from people within your own professional circle, but mentors can come from the wider workforce, also. Look to women of diversity, whose advocacy has helped to create a more diverse workforce, and to young leaders, who act as a catalyst for change. New Zealand women are achieving significantly on the global stage, as are those who have chosen to put their talents to use in the non-profit sector. Join a professional body or networking group to broaden the scope of people you meet, and use social media as a professional tool for keeping in touch and sharing ideas.

4. Focus on leading

Whether it’s leading a large company, a small team or a specific project, there is room for a wide variety of leadership styles in the workplace. Leadership starts with empowering yourself and assuming responsibility, and grows with enthusiasm, optimism, cooperation and creativity. Don’t be backward about taking your place at the table.

Via The Economic Times : Please don’t be mean: Compassion towards staff can boost workplace productivity

WASHINGTON D.C. – Here is a solid reason to be nice to your subordinates, turns out, showing compassion to your employees might actually lead to better productivity.

According to a latest research compassion to subordinates almost always pays off, especially when combined with the enforcement of clear goals and benchmarks.

Chou-Yu Tsai, one of the researchers said, “Being benevolent is important because it can change the perception your followers have of you. If you feel that your leader or boss actually cares about you, you may feel more serious about the work you do for them.”

To find out how both the presence and lack of benevolence affects the job performance of followers, the team of researchers surveyed nearly 1,000 members of the Taiwanese military and almost 200 adults working full-time in the United States, and looked at the subordinate performance that resulted from three different leadership styles:

Authoritarianism-dominant leadership: Leaders who assert absolute authority and control, focused mostly on completing tasks at all costs with little consideration of the well-being of subordinates.

Benevolence-dominant leadership: Leaders whose primary concern is the personal or familial well-being of subordinates. These leaders want followers to feel supported and have strong social ties.

Classical paternalistic leadership: A leadership style that combines both authoritarianism and benevolence, with a strong focus on both task completion and the well-being of subordinates.

The researchers found that authoritarianism-dominant leadership almost always had negative results on job performance, while benevolence-dominant leadership almost always had a positive impact on job performance. In other words, showing no compassion for your employees doesn’t bode well for their job performance, while showing compassion motivated them to be better workers.

They also found that classical paternalistic leadership, which combines both benevolence and authoritarianism, had just as strong an effect on subordinate performance as benevolent-dominant leadership. Tsai said the reason for this phenomenon may extend all the way back to childhood.

“The parent and child relationship is the first leader-follower relationship that people experience. It can become a bit of a prototype of what we expect out of leadership going forward, and the paternalistic leadership style kind of resembles that of a parent,” Tsai said.

“The findings imply that showing personal and familial support for employees is a critical part of the leader-follower relationship. While the importance of establishing structure and setting expectations is important for leaders, and arguably parents, help, and guidance from the leader in developing social ties and support networks for a follower can be a powerful factor in their job performance,” another researcher said.

Considering the difference in work cultures between U.S. employees and members of the Taiwanese military, researchers were surprised that the results were consistent across both groups.

“The consistency in the results suggest that the effectiveness of paternalistic leadership may be more broad-based than previously thought, and it may be all about how people respond to leaders and not about where they live or the type of work they do,” said Yammarino, another researcher.

Tsai said his main takeaway for managers is to put just as much or even more of an emphasis on the well-being of your employees as you do on hitting targets and goals.

“Subordinates and employees are not tools or machines that you can just use. They are human beings and deserve to be treated with respect,” said Tsai.

“Make sure you are focusing on their well-being and helping them find the support they need, while also being clear about what your expectations and priorities are. This is a work-based version of ‘tough love’ often seen in parent-child relationships.” Tsai added.