1 – Your illness or injury might require you to miss more hours than you have in sick and vacation time, down the road. Also, having to request an alternate work schedule won’t come as a huge surprise or disruption if your manager knows the possibility exists in the future.
2 – It’s best to have your specific work accommodations written and agreed to if there becomes a problem exercising the accommodations in the future.
3 – It’s better not to receive a job offer than to have a job that you love but later lose because your employer is unable to accommodate your disability or health needs.
The challenges of working with a disability
I’ve been diagnosed with PTSD and have complications from a broken back and a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).
My disabilities are not visible and that presents a challenge for me. Let’s face it, most people are compassionate when they can see a disability or health challenge.
If you see a person’s prosthetic limb, for example, it’s easier to understand, if you’re their colleague or manager, that they’ll need to attend doctor and physical therapy appointments for example.
How to negotiate your workplace accommodation role-play video.
Colleagues are less patient when they can’t see someone’s challenges and the person seems fit and healthy, yet have to ask if an important meeting can be moved to accommodate a doctor appointment that took months to schedule.
They also don’t appreciate the fact that impromptu meetings are difficult if an employee has a packed schedule that includes medical appointments.
All they remember is that “you’re never around when something comes up.” And, “everyone has to schedule meetings around you!” Have you heard that before?
I have an MBA and more than ten years of IT experience, but I’ve had to work very hard to create my new normal - big life.
The best solution to the work challenge for me was to become a freelance worker. Now I control my own schedule.
In the past, I found it very difficult to get employers to live up to the workplace accommodations agreement that I negotiated in my hiring package.
Every employer likes to feel good about hiring a veteran, especially one with many credentials and a lot of experience.
Unfortunately, they often forget that I put in ridiculous amounts of time in working from home on nights, weekends, and holidays to compensate for the missed time during the regular work-week due to illness or doctor appointments.
In the mind of corporate managers the time that I missed work, measured against the time that I worked after normal hours never balanced out.
Even when I turned in monthly, detailed time and task reports that documented my efforts at work, along with exceeding project goals and timelines, winning awards, and otherwise great performance managers would mention that I needed to be in the office more.
Working with a disability can be hard but it’s not impossible. It may take having serious discussions with your manager or a regular basis to ensure that she or he remembers the value that you bring to the team.
In my case, I think that is where I could have done a better job—selling myself to my manager on a regular basis. I thought my accomplishments, the quality of my work, and other measurable standards would remind my manager that I’m a valuable team member—but no.
When you're perceived as an inconvenience to the team you can’t let the results of your work speak for you, you have to be your own cheerleader.
Come back tomorrow to learn how you can stay
relevant to your employer.