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What Are The Best Questions For Disability Workplace Surveys?

January 24, 2024
Author: AO Editor

The outcomes of your disability workplace reporting framework depend on the quality of the questions you ask your employees.  The questions in this article are much less actionable if you do not have a workplace disability reporting framework. Start with our comprehensively actionable article on Disability Workplace Reports and Reporting Frameworks in case you missed it.

Disability workplace surveys or disability employment surveys are more than a bridge to the unique challenges, needs, and experiences of employees with disabilities. 

Disability workplace survey questions are the backbone and power of your disability workplace report framework. The best questions will capture insights on your workplace accessibility, perceptions about disabled employee career advancement, cultural disability inclusion, interdepartmental disability inclusion, and much more. 

What are the best questions to ask disabled employees in a disability workplace survey? 

Candidly, you likely have gaps in your disability employment program. However, disability workplace surveys may be one of the best opportunities to uncover those gaps and improve your capacity to advance the policies, practices, and processes that empower all employees, regardless of their abilities, to thrive in competitive integrated employment. 

To help you maximize the effectiveness of your disability employment program, this AccessAbility Officer article features 16 of the top quantitative and qualitative disability employment survey questions and why they add value to your disability workplace reports. 

If this post is helpful, we appreciate you reading. Please take 2 seconds to share this on LinkedIn and or with your team via email. 

Curious about your return on investment with integrating quantitative and qualitative questions in your disability workplace surveys? This short video demonstrates opportunities you may discover after implementing questions like the 16 described below.

Recent Findings From Source America Executing A Disability Workplace Survey 

8 Best Quantitative Questions for Disability Workplace Surveys 

  1. Have you shared your disability with us? If not, what’s holding you back? 

In addition to creating normalcy around disclosure, this question helps you understand where your company’s disclosure rates are. If it is less than 15%, then employees with disabilities do not feel comfortable disclosing their disability with your company. 

Further, questions like this can help you discover barriers other employees may have in sharing disability information. Just be careful not to violate the ADA with your disability disclosure questions. 

For professional help with question development, seek counsel from an experienced HR, ADA, and or EEOC attorney. You can also get professional support by setting up time to talk with us. Be sure to reference this article’s URL in the meeting request notes. 

  1. Have you asked for any accommodations or work adjustments? If yes, describe how they were helpful. 

This question helps your organization evaluate if your employees are aware of the workplace adjustments, if they are being utilized, and whether your employees perceive workplace adjustments as effective. 

Follow up questions here may yield additional valuable insights for positive change. If there is good rapport and trust established between the interviewer and interviewee, probing statements and questions like, “Tell me more about that.” And “How can this be done better?” can be very insightful. 

  1. How supportive is your direct manager? 

This question gauges managerial support for your disabled employees, which is crucial for inclusive work environments. It also creates an opportunity for follow-up questions or additional training as needed. 

Be sure to get the perceptions and feelings of all stakeholders involved. A disabled employee’s manager may provide additional information that contradicts or reinforces what the disabled employee shares. Keep in mind, not all managers are great at managing people with significant disabilities. 

We must remember that unconscious bias is unavoidable, more present than we realize, and may be difficult to identify in the workplace. 

  1. To what extent do you feel comfortable sharing your disability with HR or others at work? 

Questions like this help you measure the comfort level of employees in discussing their disabilities in multiple ways. 

For example, if an employee is known to have a disability by their peers, but HR and or management is unaware, this indicates a larger systemic issue impairing your ability to advance an inclusive culture. 

To overcome this cultural barrier, a deeper cultural inclusion and disability capacity assessment may be needed. 

  1. When you applied for your role with us, did you experience any barriers during the recruitment process? If yes, what were they? 

This line of questioning identifies obstacles in recruitment, including the application process, initial interviews, functional assessments, and other aspects of the hiring process. 

Focused, open-ended questions are powerful tools in your disability employment program and disability workplace surveys. 

This open-ended question is direct enough to keep the employee focused on the specific issue you want insight on without restricting the employee from expressing themselves freely. 

  1. When you joined the organization: did you experience any barriers during your onboarding process? If yes, what were they? 

This question helps uncover challenges and friction within onboarding, which is directly tied to employee effectiveness, time to operational efficiency, and capacity to perform required job functions according to your policies and processes. 

Onboarding directors and VPs is completely different than supervisors and your entry level employees, but it is a critical phase every employee experiences. Onboarding is likely to influence how each employee perceives your company in the long term. 

Answers to this question can provide important insights on how supervisors and our middle management are advancing or diminishing disability inclusion at work. Problems here lead to non-disclosure, under-performing employees, distrust, and more. 

Note. Do not neglect the insight from the answers that point to human-driven problems. Many managers and supervisors have difficulty maintaining awareness of their unconscious biases. 

  1. Do you feel we have provided you with all the workplace adjustments and accommodations you need to do your job effectively? 

This question goes beyond just measuring how effective you are at providing reasonable accommodations. It provides data points on the onboarding processes as well as opportunities to find areas to support your new hire. 

Again, smart HR leaders will ask situationally appropriate follow-up questions based on the employee’s answer and the rapport they have with the individual being surveyed. 

“How did you initially feel about asking for an accommodation/work adjustment?” 

“Your experience and career matters. How can we do this better in the future?” 

  1. Do you feel that having a disability or long-term health condition like “Long Covid” has impacted your ability to get promoted or advance within the company? 

Career advancement for people with disabilities historically has been a barrier; Not only do questions like this help you identify potential managerial or cultural opportunities for improvement, but it is a fantastic way to facilitate talent identification. 

If a disabled employee expresses frustration or discontent, then they likely have or previously had intentions of moving up within the company. Figure out where those friction points are and determine the best way to eradicate them. 

If a disabled employee says yes to this, 9 times out of 10, it is a people problem. Some people are uncomfortable working with or interacting with people with disabilities. 

Unconscious biases can be difficult to understand, observe, and change. 

8 Best Qualitative Questions for Disability Workplace Surveys 

  1. What do you think our organization does well in supporting disabled employees? 

Direct and objectively qualitative, this is a great question for all employees, from the front line to the C-Suite. 

Long, detailed answers will come from employees who have experienced or observed positive things related to disability inclusion. Follow-up questions are advised for employees with short answers. 

Short answers indicate negative experiences or observations as well as a lack of awareness of your disability employment program in general. Effective organizational communication of business goals and objectives is a leadership problem. 

If there is 1 question to ask your leadership and department heads, it is this one. Any uncertainty or vagueness are opportunities to educate, inform, drive accountability, and increase ownership. 

Do not underestimate the influence interdepartmental cohesion has on your disability employment program. This varies from company to company, but typically HR, IT, leadership, department or division heads, and procurement all influence workplace accessibility, disability-readiness, and disabled employee morale. 

  1. How can we better support our disabled employees? 

Continuous improvement should be a core tenant to every disability employment program. Strong answers from front-line employees to supervisors should effectively guide your disability employment program ideation and development. 

However, answers from department heads and leadership like, “What do you think we do well?” indicate a lack in awareness and or perceived value of your disability employment program. 

For tips and strategies for how to gain executive buy-in, check out our article, 

Disability Workplace Reports and Reporting Frameworks” 

  1. How could we make our culture more inclusive in relation to our systems and processes? 

This qualitative question encourages ideas for broader cultural and systemic changes. It also helps bring attention to departmental and organizational culture differences. 

For example, disabled employees may always have a wonderful experience when interacting with HR but may be hesitant to ask for help from IT based on previous experience. 

You must ask your department heads of HR, IT, Procurement, and other divisions this valuable disability workplace survey question. 

Department and division heads do not need to be experts in disability inclusion, but they must understand how their departments individually and collectively influence the morale, employee ownership, productivity, and performance of employees with disabilities. 

If IT does not know how to implement assistive technology software, that is a problem. 

If procurement does not have a policy or process for effectively evaluating vendor products, services, and workplace systems compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, your disabled employees’ productivity, performance, and confidence plumets while your legal risk skyrockets. 

AccessAbility Officer is experienced at helping their customers advance disability inclusive procurement policies, processes, and outcomes. Schedule a short meeting with an expert to talk about how you can improve procurement of disability inclusive products, services, or other workplace systems. 

  1. Is there anything really bad or needs to change you think we should do since working for us? 

Assuming the manager has a strong relationship with the individual, asking open ended questions like this creates space and opportunity for direct feedback for improving disability inclusion in your workplace. Again, there needs to be an emphasis on follow-up questions. 

It is best to have example follow-up questions when you receive one-word answers to questions like this that provide no substantive or actionable feedback. Your follow up questions should be more focused if receiving one-word answers. 

“I’m super curious how onboarding went. It was tough for me. Can you share more specific details on how the onboarding process went? 

  1. What challenges are you experiencing at work? 

There is a time and a place to ask this question with several variations. You can also frame the question well for the employee by stating the reason you are asking this question. 

Whether framed with a specific incident or as an assurance to yours and the company’s commitment to their success, open-ended qualitative questions like this can yield insights on where improvement could be made as well as the strongest aspects to your disability employment program. 

  1. What changes would you make in relation to our approach towards disability inclusion or supporting disabled employees? 

When managers and leadership directly ask this question to employees with disabilities, not only does it improve rapport, but it also demonstrates respect that empowers employees to recommend actionable changes. 

Refer to your prepared list of follow-up questions to minimize lost opportunities for insight with one-word answers from your employees. 

If it were a perfect world and you could wave a wand to change anything, what would you do? 

  1. What are the positive aspects of your work environment that support your ability to perform and be successful? 

This question can help leadership understand how well their disability employment program strategy is working, which leads to better capacity for accurate disability workplace reporting. 

Understanding what you are doing well helps quantify a company’s return on investment, and delivers confidence in reinforcing successful practices that work. 

Asking the inverse follow up question is also a great opportunity to yield insights on the effectiveness of your disability employment program. 

“What are the negative aspects to your work that make it hard to do your job well?” 

  1. In what ways can the organization improve its communication and awareness about disabilities and inclusion? 

Clear, transparent communication around your disability employment program and disability workplace reporting will have positive benefits across the organization beyond your disabled employees. 

Show me an organization with employees who understand business goals, objectives, and strategies, and I’ll show you an organization with leadership that consistently and effectively communicates from the top down.  

Organizations who succeed in developing and maintaining cultures that are holistically disability inclusive are consistently communicating their internal initiatives, objectives, and changes from the top down across internal communication channels, such as company newsletters, intranets, emails, memos, videos, blog posts, and meetings. 

How Do I Effectively Implement Feedback From Disability Workplace Surveys? 

Be sure to use a healthy mix of both quantitative and qualitative questions. Strong qualitative questions will offer various measurable disability inclusion insights, while qualitative questions create avenues for detailed, personal feedback that can guide meaningful changes in your policies and practices. 

Even if you have incredibly thoughtful and strategic survey questions, where the rubber meets the road of disability inclusion enhancement is based in what you do with that data. 

Your organization will need to do the following: 

  1. Correctly analyze your disability workplace survey answers. 
  1. Synthesize the data into an actionable report. 
  1. Accurately inform strategic leadership on the report and survey results. 
  1. ideate your disability employment program strategy as needed; and 
  1. Execute on the tactics that work and monitor results on-going. 
This video from the Business Disability Forum highlights the most effective adjustments that workplaces can make for people with disabilities.

How Do You Turn Disability Employment Survey Responses Into Actionable Tactics? 

To help you and other HR leaders turn your survey responses and data sets into actionable tactics that will create positive change, consider the following.  

  1. Systematically Analyze Results. 

Start by systematically analyzing survey data to identify trends, patterns, and key takeaways. If you have access to an analyst, you can have them perform quantitative analysis for structured questions and thematic analysis for open-ended responses. 

  1. Prioritize Next Steps. 

Based on the analysis, prioritize actions that address the most critical issues first. Consider both short-term fixes and long-term strategic changes. 

  1. Create Feedback Loops with Your Employees. 

Communicate the findings of the survey to the employees and outline the steps the organization plans to take. This transparency builds trust and validates the employees’ efforts in participating in the survey. 

  1. Implement Strategic Change. 

Once your strategic leadership team has agreed on the change to be implemented, get to work. Be sure to allocate necessary resources and clearly define responsibilities. Give yourself more time to implement than what you think it will take. It is best to over-deliver rather than over-promise. 

  1. Monitor and Evaluate Progress Ongoing. 

Regularly monitor the progress of the implemented actions and evaluate their impact. This could involve follow-up surveys or other feedback mechanisms. Surveys are indeed valuable and provide critically valuable information, but also should be viewed as starting points for ongoing improvement. Regularly revisit and revise your strategies based on new insights and changing organizational needs. 

Conclusion For Questions You Should Include In Your Disability Workplace Surveys 

The journey towards creating a truly inclusive workplace for people with disabilities is ongoing and dynamic. Disability workplace reporting surveys are more than just tools for data collection; they are catalysts for change, providing the insights necessary to build a more inclusive, equitable work environment. 

Companies adhering to best practices, advancing survey designs, and effectively implementing feedback, will consistently make significant strides in maximizing disability inclusion and the effectiveness of their disability employment program.  

For further assistance in advancing your company’s disability employment programs and disability workplace reporting frameworks, we encourage setting up a meeting with one of our disability experts. Their expertise and guidance can support your journey in creating a workplace that celebrates diversity and fosters inclusion at every level. 

What questions have you found valuable in your disability workplace surveys?

Please share them in the comments section below.  

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