The leisure and hospitality industry is one of the largest employer pools in the country, employing over 16 million people nationwide. While a lot of progress has been made in this industry to push the talents of those with disabilities, obstacles still exist. Unfortunately, one of the greatest barriers is employers’ assumptions that people with disabilities may not be able to perform certain tasks due to their conditions. This misconception deprives the industry of great talent while denying countless people the chance to pursue fulfilling work. Here are some tips to learn how you can create opportunities for people with disabilities as an employer.
Know Your Responsibilities as an Employer
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is crucial to promoting an inclusive and accessible workplace, making it unlawful for employers to discriminate against a qualified individual who has a disability. Ensure all aspects of employment are fully accessible, including recruitment, hiring, and training. As an employer, you must engage in an interactive discussion with your employees or applicants to identify and provide reasonable accommodations, making sure those with disabilities can fully participate in your workplace. Don’t assume a candidate cannot perform the requirements of the job due to their disability. By adhering to the ADA’s requirements, you can ensure compliance with state and federal regulations.
Ensure Accessibility Through the Hiring Process
Ensuring compliance with the ADA also requires that your hiring process is accessible to those with disabilities. Embracing online applications is a pivotal move in this direction. By giving your applicants the option to apply online, you’ll break down physical barriers for candidates. Online applications can be tailored to accommodate various accessibility needs, such as screen readers, magnification tools, and keyboard navigation for individuals with visual impairments or mobility limitations. Keep in mind that your online applicants will probably want a PDF filler instead of having to print, fill out, and scan paper documents. Make your job applications available as fillable PDFs that your applicants can fill out and sign online!
Encourage Professional Advancement
According to JobSkills.org, encouraging your employees with disabilities to pursue professional advancement is a win-win strategy that can unlock the full potential of your team. For example, if you run a large chain with an IT department, empowering your employees to pursue an education in technology can ensure a highly-skilled and diverse IT team. With your support and mentorship, your employees can take steps for an online computer science degree, acquiring skills and knowledge they will bring back to your business. Furthermore, offering such opportunities signals to all employees that the company values their growth and is dedicated to building a workforce that reflects the richness of diverse talents and perspectives.
Align Roles with Individual Strengths
When you hire someone with a disability, try to align their roles with their unique strengths rather than focusing on the limitations of their disability. For example, individuals with great interpersonal skills may thrive in guest services, front desk positions, or concierge roles. In the realm of housekeeping, employees with physical disabilities can be valuable members of the housekeeping staff, contributing to the maintenance and cleanliness of your establishment. For food and beverage roles, identify specific positions that align with the individual’s abilities, such as hosting, taking orders, preparing food, or bussing tables.
Be sure to prioritize accessibility across all roles by providing the tools and equipment your staff need to do their jobs effectively. For those with hearing or vision challenges, the right software will ensure these employees can complete work on the computer. By recognizing and leveraging the unique strengths of employees with disabilities, and making reasonable accommodations wherever possible, you can create a diverse work environment with a low barrier to entry.
As the leisure and hospitality industry evolves, so must our approach to creating opportunities for people with disabilities. By increasing accessibility through the hiring process, like making applications available online, encouraging the professional development of our staff, and matching employees with roles in which they will thrive, we can maximize the potential of our workforce while unleashing a range of diverse skills and perspectives. | Martin Block