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How Managers Can Move Employees with Disabilities into Leadership

How Managers Can Move Employees with Disabilities into Leadership

​A recent study found that employees with disabilities often believe they don’t have the same opportunities for advancement within their company as do employees without disabilities.Overall, employees with disabilities are less confident their skills will be used effectively or that their employer will trust them to use their own judgment when performing their job, according to a recent study on The State of Disability Employment Engagement by Mercer and Global Disability Inclusion. It often depends on a manager whether an employee with a disability gets the same leadership development opportunities as any other employee. “Leaders … need to look for ways to give people with disabilities opportunities to be visible in front of a group,” said PwC Tax Director Rob Rusch. “If we live in world where an individual in a wheelchair is visible, then it starts to break down that perception” that someone in a wheelchair may not be capable of performing a certain job.Here are three ways managers can provide leadership opportunities for employees with disabilities.Encourage Self-IdentificationMore companies are encouraging employees to self-identify that they have a disability, particularly if an employee has an invisible disability. People who disclose their disability are more engaged with the organization, their managers and their teams than those who have not disclosed, according to The State of Disability Employment Engagement. “I’m very comfortable identifying my disability, but I don’t have much choice because it’s an external physical disability,” said Rusch, who has a neuromuscular disability and uses a power wheelchair. Although Rusch understands that an employee with an invisible disability might not be as eager to disclose because of concerns about how a manager or co-worker could react, he doesn’t regret being open about his disability. “It has opened resources and doors for me to lean into that identity,” he said.Of the 45,078 PwC employees in 2020, 2.6 percent self-identified as having a disability, up from 1.6 percent of its 43,713 employees in 2018, according to the 2020 PwC Diversity & Inclusion Transparency Report. However, Senior Associate Nesa Mangal said, because PwC is relying on self-identification, the number of employees with disabilities is likely higher.At tech company Intel, 1.4 percent of the 110,600 employees self-identified as having a disability in 2020, said Dawn Jones, chief diversity and inclusion officer and vice president of social impact. Intel’s goal is to increase the percentage of employees who self-identify as having a disability to 10 percent of the workforce by 2030, Jones noted. “This is an important goal for us as we work toward an inclusive and psychologically safe environment where employees are empowered to bring their whole self to work and succeed,” she said.Address Inaccurate Perceptions “Because of first impressions, people with disabilities probably don’t always get the benefit of doubt that [other people] get, especially if their disability is visible,” said Paula Jenkins, a project manager and executive chef at The Galley Dining Hall in Charleston, S.C. Jenkins manages 120 employees, and about 92 percent have a disability. The Galley contracts with Palmetto Goodwill in …

Why a Layoff Is Not an Alternative to Terminations for Cause

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Why a Layoff Is Not an Alternative to Terminations for Cause

​One of the biggest mistaken assumptions in the workplace is that companies can simply lay off their weakest performers rather than proceed with progressive discipline. In almost all cases, progressive discipline is the method of choice when dealing with substandard performance or conduct issues. To simply make the person and problem magically disappear via a no-fault layoff may feel like the path of least resistance, but it often leaves managers unaccountable, workers neglected and the organization vulnerable.Here’s what you need to know so you can avoid this potentially dangerous landmine:The Path of Least ResistanceManagers who want to avoid the confrontation associated with progressive discipline and termination often look to a no-fault layoff because it appears to provide a quicker, cleaner solution to ending employment. No confrontation, no disagreement and no conflict necessary: simply a “position elimination” removing the poor-performing employee from the workplace, coupled with a severance package and a promise not to contest the individual’s application for unemployment insurance.But there are certain legal and practical guidelines you need to follow when considering a layoff. Specifically, you should determine the appropriate employee to be laid off, how long you’ll have to wait before refilling that position and what could happen if you are legally challenged for having improperly laid someone off.Keep in mind that you eliminate positions, not people. There’s typically a budget shortfall that needs to be addressed by eliminating a position or a redundancy in work processes that triggers the need to eliminate a role. In other words, your written records must reflect that a position is being eliminated because of a legitimate business need, and the individual who currently fills that position will now be affected because there’s no longer a job to report to.”If removing a problem performer is your goal, then eliminating that individual’s job may be a big mistake,” according to Jeff Nowak, management-side employment attorney at Littler Mendelson P.C. in Chicago. “After all, you’ll still need to get the work done.”Even if you already have a specific employee in mind, determining which employee should be separated once you’ve established a legitimate business reason to eliminate a position can be challenging.”Remember, you can’t arbitrarily select someone for a layoff simply because he is your weakest performer or because he happens to be sitting in the seat that’s being eliminated,” Nowak said. “Instead, you must first identify the least-qualified person in the department or unit to assume the remaining duties after the restructuring occurs. The least-qualified person on paper, however, may end up being your best (albeit newest) performer.”Let’s look at an example to clarify these concepts. Assume you’re looking to terminate a poor-performing employee by eliminating one of three administrative assistant positions in your marketing department. Since there are three individuals who currently fill that role, you have a pool to choose from and your company will be required to conduct a “peer group analysis” to see which of the three is the least qualified to assume the remaining job responsibilities once the position …

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