How can you ensure a return on investment for AODA training?
So you are a human resources manager or a general manager of a company of 20 or more employees and you’ve figured out what you have to do to comply with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). In particular you know you have a responsibility to train employees and that you will be required to self-report. Hopefully your organization has performed a workplace assessment and created policies and procedures, and you are ready to roll out your accessibility program and training.
The best employers and proactive HR managers will go beyond just meeting the AODA training requirements. You can make the greatest impact for your employees and for your organization by using your AODA training as tool for increasing employee engagement. One way to do this is to carefully design and promote your organization’s AODA program as socially responsible corporate behaviour rather than simply as a compliance-driven reaction.
For many organizations AODA training is compliance-driven. You do it because you have to and you find the cheapest and fastest way to deliver training to your employees, often in the form of a generic online module. In discussions that I’ve had with managers, HR professionals and health and safety professionals, AODA training was not seen as offering the same return on investment as some other types of training. Rather, they see it about avoiding penalties. Training such as fire safety or slips and falls prevention are seen as having both more importance and more value for the organizations.
Thoughtful incorporation of AODA standards and effective AODA training can be linked to employee engagement. Corporate social responsibility (CSR), including sustainable business practices, is increasingly tied to employee expressions of engagement and alignment with the organization. Studies show that companies with high CSR values also score higher in employee engagement.
Some companies are already using AODA standards and training to promote and improve their socially responsible corporate practices. For example, Miratel Solutions, a company that offers a variety of call centre services, claims to use the AODA obligations to enhance its operations:
Since its inception in 2000, Miratel’s Canadian call centre has been dedicated to maintaining the highest standards of integrity, workplace conduct, employment standards and business ethics. Today that dedication is reflected in their Corporate Social Responsibility principles which include extensive green initiatives and social justice mandates which the certification of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act program builds upon.
The best way to make the link between CSR and the AODA is a thoughtful and specific application of AODA standards and training to your industry. Taking the time to identify and develop practices unique to your company, clients and processes is a way to show your employees that accessibility for Ontarians with disabilities is part of your organization’s sustainable business practice. The more specific you can make your training, and the more directly you can link it to your vision and values as a company, the more value the training will have.
Some companies will be able to make the link more easily than others. For example, our retirement residence, our tag line, “The home with a heart,” can be linked to our expressed desire to employ best practices in serving residents and their visitors. If you can find this link for your organization and tie your AODA training to your organization’s socially responsible performance, you can make the most of your valuable training time. Training time is one of the most valuable assets to a company and is also highly valued by employees. Dig a little deeper to figure out how and why your organization really wants to be accessible for Ontarians with disabilities in a unique way. Make your AODA training count!
Marcia Scheffler, M.A., CHRP Candidate
Human Resources Generalist
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