Training and learning the job

Workbridge is the largest New Zealand-owned employment service for people with a disability or health condition.

Best practice in training new and existing employees will benefit people with disabilities. It is worth reviewing training methods to make sure your employees get the most from it.

  • Structure the job by breaking it down into parts and provide clear and structured training. A clear timetable on when to complete each task, agreed with the employee, may be particularly useful for people with intellectual disabilities.
  • Explain your expectations clearly – show how their job fits into the business’ wider objectives. Also be clear about often unspoken assumptions in the workplace e.g. dress or workplace behaviour.
  • Keep your language simple. Some people will find pictures a useful memory aid for tasks or a Dictaphone may be helpful.
  • Ask the person to repeat back instructions to demonstrate that they have understood.
  • Provide training on correct posture, equipment use and the importance of taking rest breaks. Simple stretches can help with many conditions; others may benefit from an area to lie down flat during rest breaks.
  • You may need to allow extra time for a person with an intellectual disability to learn new skills and build their productivity over time. Providing a workplace buddy may help them to learn the job. They may also be able to bring an external support worker with them. Break down jobs into smaller tasks which are easier to learn and understand. Where possible maintain stability in the job, keeping job tasks, timetables and methods of delivery the same and providing support through times of change.

Additional support during the induction period can help people with some types of disabilities.

  • For example some people with autism or Aspergers Syndrome find the social aspects of work very difficult. A visit to the workplace before starting work and a plan of who sits where in the office could be helpful. If possible provide a mentor to discuss problems or a job coach for support in the workplace. Workbridge Job Support Funds may be able to assist with this.
  • For people with a vision impairment, assigning a workplace buddy to help them learn their way round the building can be helpful. Ensure they understand the evacuation procedure and that it works for them.
  • People with hearing impairments may need a colleague to explain induction videos/DVDs which are not subtitled. It is helpful to make sure everyone is aware of the need to speak clearly and directly to someone who is lip reading.
  • For some people with epilepsy, the additional stress of starting a new job or a different pattern of work, such as shift work, can cause an onset of seizures. These will often become less frequent or stop altogether once the person becomes used to the work environment.