Workplace Accommodations Can Make You and Your Employer Successful

 ADHD Weekly 2017-02-23

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You enjoy your job and you’re dedicated to your career, but your ADHD symptoms can be a frustrating impediment to your work.  

There are many strategies you can employ to adapt your work environment to the challenges your ADHD presents, such as wearing earbuds to compensate for distractibility; you can find more ideas at Workplace Issues. You can also ask your employer to make or allow accommodations in your workplace environment or tasks.  

The majority of accommodations are minor and inexpensive. With reasonable accommodations, your talents and skills can flourish, bringing significant value to your job and benefits for you, your co-workers, and your employer.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

“It is the individual’s performance that matters,” writes Ari Tuckman, PsyD, MBA, in Workplace Accommodations: I Can Ask for Those? for CHADD’s Attention magazine. “If a diagnosable condition (such as ADHD) impairs the person’s ability to perform the essential job functions, then they can ask for accommodations under the ADA.”

Under ADA, employers are required to provide reasonable accommodations to qualified individuals with disabilities who are employees or applicants for employment, except when such accommodation would cause an undue hardship. ADHD is included in this coverage provided by the ADA.  

Remember that a diagnosis alone does not constitute a disability and, therefore, would not require your employer to accommodate you. It is only by demonstrating that your diagnosis impairs your ability to perform your job functions effectively that it is deemed a disability, thereby requiring the employer to accommodate under the ADA. So be sure to document everything if you are seeking accommodations. Some typical accommodations include:

  • flexible scheduling and work-from-home options
  • written directions, email follow-up to conversations
  • regular update meetings to prioritize assignments
  • allowing audio recordings for meetings to increase attention and participation, and to minimize distractions from note taking
  • reduce paperwork and use checklists in place of reports
  • operating procedure checklists posted in prominent locations
  • quiet spaces for work, including offices with doors that close or use of empty conference rooms
  • cubicles with high walls or desk space to decrease distractions
  • white noise machines to block distracting sounds, helpful for all employees
  • large assignments or projects broken into smaller units with individual target dates

Employers that provide reasonable accommodations unleash the creativity, passion, and dedication of their employees. There are other significant benefits, Dr. Tuckman writes:

  • retaining valuable employees
  • improving productivity and morale
  • reducing workers’ compensation
  • reducing  training costs
  • improving company diversity
  • receiving tax incentives

Should you disclose?

You can request workplace accommodations to improve your performance. It’s not always necessary to disclose an ADHD diagnosis to make a request and receive accommodations. If you do disclose a diagnosis, you can discuss it with your company’s human resources office or with your direct supervisor.   

 “Some employees worry about the possible repercussions for disclosing a disability and requesting accommodations,” Dr. Tuckman writes. “This is an individual choice and is informed by the quality of the relationship between the employee and employer.”

You, as an employee, can make a request for reasonable accommodations without bringing up the ADHD or disclosing a disability, he says. 

“If you frame the request as being to the employer’s benefit also, most will be happy to discuss it with you,” Dr. Tuckman says. 

How to ask for reasonable accommodation:

  • private conversation between you and your supervisor
  • discussion with human resources department (if your company has a human resources or employee assistance plan office)
  • letter submitted in writing, detailing request and how it will help you be a better employee
  • completed company request form

“Don’t wait to disclose until after you begin to experience work performance problems,” says Beth Loy of the Job Accommodation Network.  “It is better to disclose your disability and request accommodations before job performance suffers.”

Looking for more information? Continue reading Workplace Accommodations: I Can Ask for Those?

Additional resources: 

Have you request accommodations at work? What has been your experience? Discuss with our community.