Workplace Initiative weekly news roundup: January 27, 2020

Here are some highlights from this week’s news about disability inclusion (DI) in the workforce — and how you can use this information to make your company the best it can be.

1. Requests for service animals in the workplace on the rise

What’s reported: The National Law Review reports that more employees are requesting service animals as an accommodation in the workplace. These animals are trained to help people with “a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability.” But some employers are hesitant to grant such requests. 

The National Law Review article provides guidelines for employers in accommodating employees who require a service animal. That includes: 

  • Making sure the presence of the service animal works for all employees. That might require restricting the animal from certain areas or providing air cleaners to reduce animal dander.
  • Educating other employees about the dos and don’ts of interacting with service animals.

Title III of the ADA requires that places of public accommodation permit service animals to accompany individuals with disabilities. But employers need to be careful about accommodation requests for service animals or emotional support animals. They should also be prepared to address the potential challenges. 

What you can do: Learn more about how to address requests for service animals in the workplace with this Job Accommodation Network (JAN) fact sheet. It includes details on accommodating employees who need service animals and how to interact with service animals.

2. There’s still more work to do with the Americans with Disabilities Act

What’s reported: Summer 2020 will mark 30 years since the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law. The law protects the civil rights of people with disabilities, and also bans discrimination in employment and education. 

The passage of the ADA helped to make huge strides for the disability community, including Supreme Court rulings to better define disability, and transportation access for people with disabilities. But this article in The Hill notes that there’s still more work to do, especially when it comes to disability and employment. This includes:

  • Improving the national employment rate for individuals with disabilities. Only 33 percent of working-age Americans with disabilities participated in the workforce in 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s compared to almost 77 percent of Americans without a disability.

What you can do: Make sure your company is taking steps to create more employment opportunities for people with disabilities. It starts with building an inclusive workplace — where all employees can thrive — by: 

  • Implementing company-wide training 
  • Building a sourcing and retention plan 
  • Providing supports for employees with disabilities

3. Burnout in the workplace: Is it actually depression? 

What’s reported: A recent study inspired this Psychology Today article about the distinction between work-related burnout and depression. That study, conducted by the City University of New York and the University of Neuchâtel in Switzerland, surveyed over 3,000 people and measured both burnout and depression. 

The study’s authors say that “not only did burnout correlate strongly with clinical depression, but that individual burnout factors correlated better with depression symptoms than with one another.” The World Health Organization states that depression affects more than 264 million people annually and is recognized as a major cause of global disability. 

The Psychology Today article points out that burnout should not be minimized. And it highlights the need for addressing it in the workplace by: 

  • Addressing a work culture that leads to burnout and depression
  • Making sure wellness programs really work

What you can do: Depression is an invisible disability that can affect many employees. It’s important to let your employees know that their mental health is important to you. You can do that by:

  • Making sure mental health coverage is included in your insurance plan. Seeing out-of-network providers can be very costly.
  • Promoting free services that are part of the employee benefit package. One example could be health coaching to reduce stress.

4. Universal Music U.K. launches book to promote accommodating neurodiversity in the workplace

What’s reported: Forbes reports that Universal Music U.K. has launched a new book about accommodating employees with dyslexia, ADHD, autism, and dyspraxia in the creative industries. 

“The company worked for two years collating stories of lived experience and advice from professionals on how to be an inclusive employer,” writes organizational psychologist Nancy Doyle about the book Creative Differences.

Doyle notes that the book is a great start for breaking down common misinterpretations about employees who are neurodiverse. But it shouldn’t be the end point. “To make neurodiversity work, we need to slow down, take time, ask questions, and park our assumptions. We need to assume the best of each other until we can get the best out of each other,” she writes in Forbes

What you can do: To be a company that is inclusive, you need to be educated about the myths and misconceptions about employing people with disabilities. This includes people who are neurodiverse. Learn more about developing strategies to create a successful disability inclusion initiative. 

About the author

About the author

The Understood Team is made up of passionate writers and editors. Many of them have kids who learn and think differently.