Any business with over a certain number of employees has an obligation to create an accessible workplace for their employees and customers. If you feel that something about the job is making it hard to keep coming back, something needs to change. Whether it’s a tool you’re missing or a daily frustration related to a disability, you have a right to ask for accommodations that will allow you to do your job more easily.
Addressing your management team to make this request can be intimidating, especially if you struggle with anxiety or frequent negative self-talk. Here are some tips on how to ask for accommodations in your workplace if you’re worried about speaking up.
Familiarize Yourself With the ADA
Understanding what a business needs to do to remain ADA-compliant is the first step in formulating your request for accommodations. Keep in mind that your HR team or employers will have read the same text as you, ideally the exact same wording, so you can broach this subject with the knowledge that you’re on an equal playing ground.
Reasonable accommodations will vary between jobs. When making your request, enter the conversation with multiple viable solutions in mind. This way, your HR department is more likely to find an accommodation that suits your needs.
Include and Keep Documentation
No matter how many positive interactions you’ve had with your employer, it’s important to keep documentation of the entire accommodation process, just in case. Keep track of e-mails you send and receive and the dates of each communication. If they request it, you can also send your own documentation exclusively to the HR department.
Keeping track of the process not only empowers you, should your company make a choice you feel is incorrect, but it also provides a more apparent timeline that can help relieve some of the anxiety about late replies and over-communicating throughout.
Speaking with HR, management, or any employer about a disability is an anxiety-inducing experience. You might wonder when it’s appropriate to bring up a disability, worry that mentioning it will affect your employment, or feel concerned about judgment or pity from co-workers. All these worries often prevent us from asking for help, in part because we get stuck trying to find the right words to say.
Practicing can help you build the confidence you need to address your management with something so personal. Speaking to a mirror first will help you get the words out into audible space. Bringing your concerns to a family member or friend will give you valuable feedback and a chance to practice how you want to articulate the issues hindering your ability to work effectively.
Building up the confidence to ask for accommodations in your workplace can take time. Be patient with yourself if you continue to struggle to reach out to HR. If you find that too much time is passing, consider relying on family and friends to help you take the first step.