How to Make Employee Gatherings More Accessible and Inclusive

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How to Make Employee Gatherings More Accessible and Inclusive

Many companies host events and gatherings to encourage camaraderie and communication among staff members. These events are an excellent way for employees to get to know one another better to improve their working relationships.

However, just as you would work to ensure the office environment is accessible to all staff members, you must also ensure the events and gatherings you host are inclusive and accessible as well. All employees should be able to easily attend and enjoy the events you host.

In this article, we’ll discuss why it’s important to host inclusive gatherings for employees and offer tips on how to make those gatherings more accessible to ensure everyone has a good time.

Why Employee Gatherings Are Important

Employee gatherings are typically provided as a way to allow staff to enjoy their time with one another in a more casual setting. These events are a way for employees to socialize, relax, and have fun while developing deeper connections with one another to improve how they work together.

However, employee gatherings are about more than just providing a social outlet for staff. They also work as a way to improve workplace culture and employee engagement, which are essential to running a successful company.

Companies that prioritize employee engagement have higher retention rates, increased productivity, higher customer satisfaction, and more profits. This is because your employees are like the foundation of your company, and when they are happier and more engaged, they will work harder and better, which produces better outcomes. And employee gatherings are a great way to boost employee engagement.

Hosting gatherings for your employees shows that you care about them and see them as more than just another cog in the workplace machine. It shows them that you want them to have fun and enjoy their time with your company — that you appreciate their hard work and are happy to reward it with fun events and social activities. In turn, your employees will not only build better relationships with their colleagues, which will improve collaboration, but they will also be more inspired to show up and do their best each and every day. This not only means more loyalty to your company, but it also means employees will work harder to please your customers.

However, just as it’s important to ensure your staff has what they need in the office, it’s also important to ensure the events and gatherings you host are inclusive and accessible. For example, if your office is accessible to employees with disabilities, but the venue where you are hosting an event is not, then this can make certain employees feel left out and alienated. And that will do the opposite of improving employee engagement and satisfaction.

Ways to Make Employee Gatherings More Accessible

When planning an event for your employees, it’s important to consider how to make the gathering as enjoyable and inclusive as possible so everyone can have a good time. Understandably, you might get caught up on things like the cost and how to find a venue that accommodates the size of your gathering, but accessibility considerations are just as important.

1. Provide Disability-Inclusion Training

This one is a bit of a general tip, whether you are hosting an event or not, but it’s worth noting. If you want your employees with disabilities to feel welcome, you must provide disability-inclusion training to your entire staff.

The more aware your employees are of how their words and actions affect others, the more likely they are to be more inclusive and accommodating of others. Overall, this will improve understanding and help all of your employees feel welcome, whether they are working in the office or attending a gathering you are hosting.

2. Be Mindful When Choosing a Venue

When choosing where to host your event, it’s important to ensure that the environment will be accessible to all of your employees, no matter their limitations or capabilities. For example, if you have blind or low-vision employees, it’s important to make sure the venue you choose is well-lit and easy to maneuver with assistive devices like a cane. The same goes for employees that are in a wheelchair.

Not all venues are accessible to people with disabilities, unfortunately, so be mindful of this when selecting a space. If you are struggling to find a good indoor venue with accessibility accommodations, consider hosting your gathering in an outdoor venue.

There are numerous mental and physical health benefits to spending more time outdoors, primarily that spending time outside boosts serotonin levels and provides more vitamin D, which is essential. So this is a benefit to the health and well-being of your employees.

Outdoor venues may offer greater flexibility when setting up for an event than indoor locations do. Just keep in mind that is important to make sure that your chosen venue goes above and beyond the ADA requirements for outdoor events. 

3. Think About Food and Dietary Restrictions

When planning an inclusive event, it’s worth considering more than just physical accommodations for staff with disabilities. You might also have employees with other health issues requiring consideration, such as those who can’t eat certain foods.

For example, you could have employees with Celiac disease, meaning they can’t eat gluten. Or someone could have Chron’s disease or gastroesophageal reflux disease, meaning they need to eat foods that are low in fiber, also known as a low-residue diet.

You might also have vegans or vegetarians on your staff, and just because their diet isn’t related to an illness doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be included or considered when you are planning the menu. So before simply choosing a catering option that is the most enticing, make sure you check in with all of your employees about any dietary restrictions.

Final Thoughts

To ensure all of your staff feel seen and appreciated, it’s important to put more thought into your employee gatherings to make them more inclusive. If you don’t know what accommodations need to be made, you can work with HR, as they will likely know which staff members have restrictions, limitations, or disabilities. You can also send out an email to specifically ask your employees what accommodations they might need so you can make the event as enjoyable and accessible as possible.