Providing Accommodations for ADHD at Work

Whether you are a small business owner operating with 15 or less employees or a multi-national corporation, your success is dependent on the people you employ. Hiring employees is a costly undertaking in time, energy and resources, especially in smaller businesses. Employers continuously search for people with the skills and experience that add value to your organization. The goal is to retain a solid team whose members are closely involved and engaged with your business  and its internal and external stakeholders.

Businesses will be challenged both externally and internally as they adapt to changing economies and demographics of the future. In the United States, 10,000 people daily are leaving the workforce to retire. This, along with a lower birth rate, will leave many companies scrambling to find suitable replacements in a growing number of jobs.  Employment candidates who may have previously been passed over due to their disabilities, will be a valuable pool of potential employees for the growing number of unfilled positions.

Overcoming Barriers in the Workplace

While medication and therapy can help people with ADHD overcome a majority of their symptoms, in some cases, there is still a need for a job coach.  A job coach may assist the person with developing self‑confidence, strength-building and overcoming weaknesses.  Coaches help individuals by assisting in time management, organizational skills, establishing priorities, building self-acceptance, building self-esteem, mastering interpersonal skills and techniques and self-monitoring.

Besides using a workplace coach, the person may wish to consider changing jobs to one that is more ADHD-friendly.  Jobs that are more flexible in their daily routine or self-employment are often good choices.  Whereas, positions more oriented toward production and repetitive in nature are not as good a match.

Workplace Accommodations

Sometimes in a work environment, an accommodation is also needed.  ADHD is considered a disability and is covered under the Americans with Disability Act  (ADA).  Examples of accommodations include:

  • Delegating work
  • Frequent breaks
  • Technology assistance
  • Realistic workload
  • Workspace alterations
  • Work schedule changes
  • Changing positions

Despite individuals being able to request accommodations under ADA, this is not common.  ADHD is an invisible disorder and, like most mental disorders, it may not be understood or accepted by others.  Moreover, there seems to be a lack of knowledge surrounding what is an appropriate accommodation under the ADA.  Adults may find that they need to educate their employer regarding their ADHD symptoms, and how they could improve their work performance with the aid of accommodations.

What are the employer’s legal rights and responsibilities regarding accommodations?

See Employer’s legal right and responsibilities.

 

What are the benefits of offering accommodations?

Accessible employment practices that are inclusive for people with disabilities are good for your bottom line. Some of the benefits for those who have invested in inclusive practices, include the following:

  • Better job retention
  • Higher attendance
  • Lower turnover
  • Enhanced job performance and work quality
  • Better safety records

Statistics Canada found that such practices lead to a 72% higher staff retention rate among people with disabilities, 90% did well or better than co-workers’ without disabilities, and 86% with disabilities were rated average or better in attendance. (Deloitte, The Road to Inclusion).

What are the costs of typical accommodations?

Most employers report little to no cost by offering accommodations. 58% stated no cost, 37% indicated a one-time cost, and 1% said the accommodation required a combination of both. The typical one-time expenditure by employers surveyed was $500. When asked how much they paid for an accommodation beyond what they would have paid for an employee without a disability who was in the same position, employers typically answered around $400. 74% of said employers reported that accommodations were very or extremely effective. (JAN, Workplace Accommodations: Low Cost, High Impact, 2015).

What’s the ROI of Providing Accommodations?

There are direct and indirect benefits which are reflected in your bottom line.

  • Retention of valued employees
  • Increased public profile
  • Community investment
  • Recognition of leadership in the design of accessibility procedures.

As the population ages and the pool of available employees shrinks, companies that have already embraced hiring and retaining employees with disabilities will have an advantage, by being highly regarded by potential employees and the community.

The right way to implement accommodations for employees with ADHD

A process of structure, and flexibility are crucial for allowing parties to participate in stages of setting up accommodations for employees with ADHD, thus allowing them to do their job tasks effectively. The protocol ranges from complex, written accommodation to a quiet simple process based on the size of your organization. It’s most beneficial to keep an open-mind and know that your employee wants to perform well and be a productive member of the team.

  1. Determine the reason why the employee needs an accommodation to better respond to accommodation needs.
  2. Explore accommodation options with the employee.
  3. Together choose an option that will be implemented. Although the employer is free to choose among effective accommodation options, it’s a good idea to truly consider employee preference.
  4. Provide effective training for employees and their supervisors or manager in how the accommodation is to be implemented.
  5. Monitor the effectiveness of the accommodation and make adjustments if needed. This requires a regularly scheduled review of the plan.

 

Sources:
Bureau of Labor Statistics

Statistics Canada

FEDERAL REGISTER

Americans with Disabilities Act

Canadian Human Rights Code

Employment Equity

Reasonable Accommodations / Duty to Accommodate

The Accessibility for Manitobans Act (AMA)

Accessibility Act by Province (Ontario (AODA) has set the standard for the other provinces to spearhead design of and proposal to government to legislate).