Todays’ guest post has been written for our IP Ability community by Trevor Walker. Trevor is a freelance writer who holds a particular interest in employee welfare and has created content for established companies based all around the world. He holds a degree in creative writing and is always eager to expand his knowledge around different subjects, especially disability inclusion.
Starting a new job can be daunting for anyone, no matter how confident you feel in your abilities or how long you have been in the industry. A new group of people, and a new way of working, can take a while to get used to. There’s also likely to be an additional layer of worry if you have a disability, as you may have additional needs. Of course, you’d hope that the company has already thought about major accessibility accommodations, but until you know this for yourself, it can be a nervous time.
But being able to feel included, comfortable and welcome at work is key to a happy life. After all, many of us spend the majority of our week working. So how can you make sure that this happens for you? We share our top tips.
Communicate your needs
You have no obligation to disclose any information about a disability at the interview stage unless you want to – and the interviewer must not discriminate against you, or ask you
inappropriate questions. If you do choose to share information about a disability, it can be helpful to talk positively and offer solutions to any concerns.
It’s up to you how much you share with your employer once you’re hired, but being open about what you need can go a long way towards avoiding difficult situations, and giving your
team the opportunity to make change. Speak to your manager about your suggestions, and work with them to find a solution. If you’re not comfortable talking to them by yourself, you could take a colleague with you, or a union representative.
If you are happy to talk to your team about your condition, then it can be a great opportunity to raise awareness so they can be proactive about ways to make you feel welcome at work, as well as any future team members.
It can also be a chance to make sure all your team members have completed unconscious bias training, and that everyone feels comfortable calling out any discriminatory behaviour. This can in turn help widen the talent pool that the company interviews, and will result in a more diverse workforce.
Help create a positive culture
Going to social events can also help you have more relaxed conversations and build relationships with team members. Make sure to speak to the organisers to make sure they have considered your needs so that you can be comfortable and enjoy the experience.
Once you do feel settled at work, look around you to see what you can do to continue to be included and make things better for others. Getting involved in mentoring schemes, for
example, can give you the opportunity to get to know other people in the company, and you have valuable experience to share that they’ll benefit from too.
To sum up
The amount you disclose or want to highlight about your conditions is totally up to you. But you may find that being open can help your team accommodate any needs you may have, without making it awkward. Either way, attending social events and getting involved in extracurriculars like mentoring schemes can be a great way to have more relaxed conversations and get to know your teammates better, which may help you feel more settled.
Trevor Walker can be contacted at [email protected].