Sanford Health employs many people with disabilities. They believe employing people with disabilities has affected their company culture in a positive way. By treating everyone as equal and capable, it creates an environment for people to feel accepted as they are.
Some of the benefits of employing people with disabilities they see include improved employee morale, increased productivity, and higher employee retention and engagement. It provides another diversity of perspective and world view, which leads to improved organizational decision making, problem solving, and increased innovation on their teams. Because they are a healthcare system, having representation from the disability community also makes them better care providers.
An employee with a disability, Molly Jandt, uses closed captioning on their meeting software, Webex. She also uses headphones and technology that links directly to her cochlear implant! She states, “I have a job because of the ADA Amendments Act (ADAA)! Also, I am thankful to work for an organization that feels it’s important enough to have someone solely dedicated to this work. I think the ADAAA has made a huge impact on everyone, regardless of if you have a disability or not. It has brought so many people into the workforce, which creates ideas and changes the world. Our world is better because of everyone being included.”
Sanford says the ADA gives them a legal framework for how to best support individuals with various conditions in the workplace in a manner that provides equity of opportunity to all. Providing reasonable accommodations via the ADA also allows them to recruit and retain individuals into their workforce that would otherwise not be able to perform the essential functions of their job.
Reasonable accommodations they have provided to some of their employees include sit/stand desk, noise reduction headphones, voice recognition software, and screen magnifiers. Many accommodations have no cost, such as closer parking, intermittent leave time, and a flexible work schedule.
They strive to model a truly inclusive workplace, which means everyone respecting and appreciating people for who they are, where they come from, what they look like, how they think and what their strengths and abilities are. It means making this a top priority and having leadership that models this perspective.
In honor of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) 32nd Anniversary, they offered the following opportunities:
- Food for thought webinar featuring Molly Jandt, sharing her lived experience and sharing the history of the ADA
- Community engagement and media opportunities
- Huddle topics on accommodating both employees and patients with disabilities to equip leaders and teams to have a discussion on this meaningful legislation
- A dedicated space on their intranet to enhance knowledge and empower leaders to have an inclusive environment for people living with a disability
They advise other businesses who are striving for full inclusion of people with disabilities to have a clear accommodation policy and process. Also, if possible, have a designated contact person who handles the accommodation requests. Make employees and candidates aware of the policy and process. Many times, employees and job candidates are unsure of who to go to or how to make an accommodation request. A central point of contact creates sustainability and engagement with the process which can enhance self-identification amongst your employee population! They also encourage sharing stories of successful accommodation and job success – elevating those with disabilities to positions of leadership within the organization.