UKG (Ultimate Kronos Group), a leading global provider of HCM, payroll, HR service delivery, and workforce management solutions, announced today “The State of Workplace Disability Inclusion & Digital Accessibility,” a report on how an increase in remote work caused by COVID-19 has affected companies’ efforts to improve digital accessibility for employees with disabilities.
An estimated one billion people around the world live with a disability, including nearly 61 million American adults. People with disabilities have historically faced more barriers in the workplace, with unemployment rates for disabled populations ranging from 50% to 90% globally. COVID-19 has further complicated the job market, as many employers grapple with tighter budgets and the need to keep employees working from home instead of in the office. In 2019, only about 20% of the U.S. workforce worked remotely at least some of the time. Today, that figure has more than doubled, with nearly half of employees working from home full time.
In collaboration with disability inclusion non-profit Disability:IN, UKG surveyed 1,000 managers at U.S. companies with more than 150 employees to understand whether leaders are well-equipped to effectively support direct reports with disabilities, especially as the pandemic has driven more companies to adapt to remote work.
On the heels of the 75th National Disability Employment Awareness month, and the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), the survey showed that employers today are taking disability inclusion seriously, and highlighted some unexpected benefits of the sudden shift to remote work. Overall, many employers are making policy adjustments that allow for broader acceptance of reasonable workplace adaptations, improving the work lives of employees both with and without disabilities.
Most Companies Confident About Their Disability-Inclusion Efforts
Managers gave their companies high marks for addressing disability inclusion, and report solid baseline knowledge about reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities.
- A large majority of managers (85%) think their company’s efforts to address disability inclusion are “above average.”
- A third of managers (33%) claim to know all the details of the ADA’s legal requirements for accommodating employees with disabilities, with an additional 36% saying they know “a good amount.”
Still Room for Improvement
Employers are providing managers with high-level training for managing people with disabilities, but some leaders still aren’t sure how to discuss disability inclusion with their direct reports—nor are they recognizing important disability milestones in the workplace.
- Nearly a quarter (23%) of managers surveyed said they haven’t had—or weren’t sure if they had—the proper training to respond or provide insight on potential accommodations when direct reports disclosed details about their disability.
- Just over half of companies (53%) surveyed report acknowledging or celebrating Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) in May, or the ADA anniversary in July.
COVID-19’s Silver Lining: Accelerating Accessibility
The pandemic caused many employers to embrace remote-work policies for the first time, bringing the topic of digital accessibility to the forefront in an increasingly virtual world of work.
- More than half of managers (51%) said COVID-19’s impact on their workforce has accelerated their company’s ability to accommodate employees with disabilities, with just 8% saying it paused or slowed down those efforts.
- Nearly three in four managers (74%) say they have received a formal training on making remote meetings more accessible.
- Over three quarters (78%) expect their company’s accommodation of employees with disabilities to be somewhat or much better in a post-COVID-19 world.
UKG, which recently earned a perfect score on the Disability Equality Index created by Disability:IN, has implemented several onsite and digital accessibility measures in recent years to better serve all employees, customers, partners, and visitors every day. This includes product enhancements; website updates, improvements to the company’s recruiting platform and practices, and changes to internal learning materials, course curricula, and trainings.
“COVID-19 has completely upended how many businesses operate, leaving leaders scrambling to adjust to ‘new and different modes of work’—and keep their employees happy and thriving through it all,” said Cecile Alper-Leroux, vice president of products and innovation at UKG. “It’s heartening to see that, even in the midst of such widespread upheaval, disability inclusion and digital accessibility have not fallen by the wayside. In fact, many organizations are doubling down on ensuring workplaces are adaptive and supportive environments for all people. Empowering employees with disabilities has always been a big priority for our own organization, and we’re glad to see other companies taking action to better support their team members with disabilities.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted business. However, it’s inspiring to see companies use this obstacle as an opportunity to go back to the basics—building a culture of inclusion, reexamining technology and accessibility, and advancing disability inclusion initiatives,” said Jill Houghton, president and CEO of Disability:IN. “Although this may seem like a ‘pause’ in the way we work, we will soon see which companies have taken action now, positioning themselves for a more resilient, sustainable, and innovative future ahead.”
For more information and complete details, download the full report.
At UKG (Ultimate Kronos Group), Our Purpose Is People. Built from a merger that created one of the largest cloud companies in the world, UKG believes organizations succeed when they focus on their people. As a leading global provider of HCM, payroll, HR service delivery, and workforce management solutions, UKG’s award-winning Pro, Dimensions, and Ready solutions help tens of thousands of organizations across geographies and in every industry drive better business outcomes, improve HR effectiveness, streamline the payroll process, and help make work a better, more connected experience for everyone. UKG has more than 12,000 employees around the globe and is known for its inclusive workplace culture. The company has earned numerous awards for its culture, products, and services, including consecutive years on Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For list. To learn more, visit www.ukg.com.
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