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Building Inclusive Work Experiences Through Universal Design and Employee Care

Organizations can create more accessible, equitable, and empowering employee experiences by integrating universal design and employee care frameworks. Thoughtfully applying these complementary models allows work cultures and systems to proactively meet the needs of diverse staff.

Small wooden blocks scattered across a table with the word "inclusion" spelled across several rainbow colored blocks in the middle

Equitable Use means ensuring accommodations are dignified and non-stigmatizing. This upholds the Human Respect and Representation pillars of employee care. Conduct disability etiquette and unconscious bias training to prevent marginalization. Represent diverse needs from the beginning when designing policies, facilities, and technologies to ensure equitable access.


Flexibility involves creating easily adaptable systems and routines supporting diverse needs and workstyles. This enables the Human Routines and Readiness pillars of employee care. Allow employee control over customizable features like adjustable desks or screen reader speed. Build skills and responsive workflows to support flexible time off, job modifications, remote work and space for renewal.


Simple & Intuitive design involves streamlining and simplifying cumbersome processes to make personnel tools easy to use independently. This facilitates the Human Records and Routines pillars of employee care. Replace complex paperwork for accommodations and leave with straightforward online request forms. Automate approval steps and reminders. Provide low-burden time tracking and schedule management apps. Intuitive systems eliminate frustrating barriers to effectively documenting needs, managing flexible routines, and upholding reliable records. When processes are simple and intuitive, diverse employees can navigate work efficiently.


Perceptible Information means crafting communications accessible to diverse abilities – sensory, linguistic, cognitive. This upholds the Human Respect and Representation pillars of employee care. Offer American Sign Language interpreters at meetings. Provide materials in plain language. Allow text-to-speech software access to enable participation. Audit existing content for accessibility gaps that may inadvertently exclude. Represent diversity in visual content and language. Ensure technologies have compatibility features for assistive devices. Understanding neurodiverse perceptual needs enables personalization and inclusion. When information is made perceptibly accessible, employees feel respected and represented as valued contributors.


Tolerance for Error involves designing experiences that minimize adverse consequences from mistakes, enabling Human Responsibility and Recognition. Provide training spaces to practice new skills without penalties. Celebrate learning from setbacks in performance reviews, not just successes. Have reporting mechanisms that allow anonymous input without blame.


Low Physical Effort means reducing repetitive motions and strength required to navigate spaces and operate tools per Human Routines. Offer worksite ergonomic assessments. Provide height-adjustable and wheelchair friendly furnishings. Automate functions on phones, doors, displays. Allow service animals. Implement fatigue management flexible routines.


Size and Space for Approach & Use entails ensuring adequate room to maneuver and utilize assistive technologies, tying to Human Readiness. Consult accessibility experts on ideal office layouts, doorway widths. Make spaces wheelchair accessible. Provide reserved priority parking and dedicated accessible workstations. Supply noise cancelling tools.


A Community of Learners entails continually engaging diverse users for input to guide ongoing improvements, tying to Human Readiness. Seek insights from differently abled employees when designing accommodations processes. Be proactive and iterative rather than reactive - pilot changes and request feedback. Foster a collective learning culture through accessibly designed forums, mentoring programs, and idea exchanges. Understand that needs evolve over time. Keep readiness a living, iterative process through regular engagement with end users. This grounds improvements in lived experiences, not assumptions. By perpetually learning from people with diverse needs, organizations can build truly empowering systems.


Integrating universal design and employee care builds inclusive systems that empower the full spectrum of staff capacities and needs. The synergistic frameworks offer a roadmap to help organizations architect equitable and accessible environments. When work is thoughtfully designed for all, every employee can thrive.


FIC Human Resource Partners' can help ensure that your organization is building a culture based on diversity, equity, and inclusion and empowering employee experiences by integrating universal design and employee care frameworks.


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