How to excel at inclusive onboarding and induction

This FREE webinar took place on 29 June 2021

One size does not fit all, so make sure you have robust, inclusive, accessible policies and approaches in place to create a workplace to meet the wide range of employees' needs. Learn in this free webinar recording how Lloyd’s, a specialist insurance and reinsurance market, approaches inclusive and accessible onboarding/induction, and get tips from AbilityNet about creating and maintaining accessible internal practices. 

We welcomed guest speaker Trevor Jennings, Risk Manager at Lloyd’s. He spoke with AbilityNet's Service Delivery Director, Amy Low, about the disability inclusion strategy and culture at Lloyd's.

AbilityNet's accessibility and usability consultants Rina Wharton and Daniel McLaughlan shared best practices for onboarding staff with different disabilities including autism, which Rina discusses in an interview on our website.

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This webinar will be of particular interest to those who work in HR or implement onboarding and inductions within their workplace.

A transcript and slides used in the webinar are available below. Find out more about our webinars in our webinars FAQs.

Questions and answers

The panellists were able to answer your questions during the webinar, and those they ran out of time to address are answered below.

Question: To help get started, what would be the key low/no cost things an organisation can do to help onboard people with Neurodiversity?

Rina: I think the two main elements that I have found to be important as someone with neurodiverse conditions are: Flexibility and listening to the employee.
Ask your employees what they think might help them and what they might struggle with outside of work and try to find solutions to this with an open mind, but do not force people to have this conversation if they do not feel comfortable.

In terms of autism for me, things such as allowing the use of headphones at work or allowing short breaks when needed can make a huge difference, while costing next to nothing upfront.
In terms of dyslexia for me, things such as allowing a little extra time, for example to review documents, and having meeting agendas in advance also help a lot. Again this costs next to nothing to implement and will likely help other employees as well.
Remind employees that they can apply to Access to Work, where they will have a conversation with someone external to work through the challenges they face and to see if there is anything extra that may help them. Depending on the size of the organisation, costs of assistive technologies and adapted hardware is shared between Access to Work and the organisation.

Q: How do you support people with mental health and invisible disability?

Rina: Have an open mind, try to set aside any preconceptions or stereotypes that you may have and listen to the employee. Try to come at any conversations about support from a solution perspective, rather than batting everything down with “we can’t do that”. If you can show people that you are open to new ideas and willing to consider alternative solutions, you will come across as supportive, even if you cannot practically implement everything they are asking for.

Amy: AbilityNet advocates creating a working environment that is optimised to support all employees with flexibility and support mechanisms built in for everyone to tap into as needed. Whilst organisations should make it clear that they are a safe space to disclose an invisible disability, if adjustments are available to everyone this means that people who are not comfortable disclosing an invisible disability or mental health condition, especially early in their tenure, they can still benefit from the tools and support services. From a mental health perspective we have introduced wellbeing plans, an optional mechanism to share with your line manager how you maintain positive mental health and any potential triggers that the line manager should be aware of that could cause distress or difficulties.

Daniel: Signposting resources very early on. The Employee Assistance Programme is great but even just linking to external support numbers and organisations and making this visible and easy to access can demonstrate that you care about your employees’ mental health. For example, Samaritans and CALM. Make employees aware how they can ask for help if needed and where they can go both inside and outside the organisation.

Plus this is a good opportunity to signpost services aimed at LGBTQ+ individuals and communities where mental health support is disproportionately unavailable.

Encouraging colleagues - if they feel comfortable - to share their mental health journey through intranet blog posts or fireside chats. This helps to reduce stigma around mental health, reminds people that we're not always aware of the difficulties people are experiencing, and empowers people to proactively think about their mental health even if they don’t identify as having a mental illness.

Training Mental Health First Aiders - especially line managers – and offering additional support for staff who find themselves involved in conversations about an employee’s mental health.

Mental Health Awareness training for all staff and organising activities around mental health awareness day/week/month (it should be every day but it’s a great time to find out how other organisations are approaching mental health)

Including dos and don’ts around language in your style guides when discussing mental health. See the Mind style guide on Writing about Mental Health and Writing about People, as well as the Self Defined dictionary.

Remembering that it’s not just about the point of crisis. Often the hardest work comes before and after crisis. We all have mental health and this can be impacted by a variety of things, both internal and external. We don’t always recognise the warning signs until its too late. 

Checking in with colleagues to see how they are finding the day to day workload and what stressors they have can pre-emptively address issues which may lead to crisis if left unchecked.

Q: How does the onboarding process change for an arts organization in terms of disability inclusion?

Amy: Onboarding needs to be tailored to the context but the key considerations should be similarly aligned to generation inclusive practice – consider the activities and skills that the individual needs to acquire to be successful in their role, consider any disability related barriers that might arise (be they technical, cultural or physical) and create options to remove these barriers. Using diverse Personas to design the onboarding process is really helpful for this so you are proactively doing this rather than adjusting for each employee. AbilityNet will be running a practical training session during July - Tech Powered Inclusive Onboarding - if that might be helpful.

Trevor: I don’t think the process changes. The crucial aspect is to identify what ‘reasonable adjustments’ need to be implemented for the individual concerned so that they can perform their role effectively. The most effective way to identify this is to have an open and honest discussion with the individual as they will often know what the best solutions are.

Q: We've been thinking of shifting to a mix of video-based and in-person induction. It's partly a pragmatic thing to make us more efficient but are there any opportunities to make the process more inclusive? We were thinking that giving people the option to absorb information in a number of different ways (video, live session, written guidance etc.) should be a positive move.

Amy: Video can be an incredibly inclusive medium for disabled learners BUT there are some important considerations that must be addressed for this and we would strongly recommend this is done pre production rather than post production. The video considerations for accessibility impact on people with a range of impairments but considering audio alternatives for hearing impaired people, describing visual elements that are important for understanding for visually impaired people are essential. Also worth focusing on keeping the content simple and well structured for people living with learning differences. (You might also be interested in AbilityNet's training course: How to produce accessible videos.)

Trevor: Yes, l agree that a mixture of onboarding solutions can be very effective. For example, a video can outline the various processes and arrangements in place; however, to identify what ‘reasonable adjustments’ would be beneficial to an individual, there is a definite need to have an open and honest discussion with them.

Useful links

Further resources

Date of webinar: 
29 Jun 2021 - 13:00