People with Down syndrome are at an increased risk for certain health problems. However, each individual with Down syndrome is different, and not every person will have serious health problems. Regardless, some of the health complications that Down syndrome brings often hinder an individual’s ability to learn or work. Unfortunately, this has led to many companies to overlook potential hires who have had a history with the condition.
In the past decade, attitudes in society and the workplace towards individuals with Down syndrome have made positive strides forwards. Savvy employers realise the numerous advantages of employing individuals with Down’s syndrome and the huge contribution they can make to the business. For employers and their workforce, having the knowledge and understanding of how to better support a colleague with the condition is at the essence of the matter.
People with Down syndrome generally have a positive impact on several organisational health dimensions such as leadership, external orientation, culture and climate, motivation and coordination and control. Yet despite all the potential advantages, it is important to be well aware of some of the challenges to overcome in order to effectively include people with Down syndrome on the staff.
Like many people with learning disabilities who are working hard to achieve their full potential in the workplace, people living with Down syndrome need support from co-workers. Having a work ally or mentor will offer the person with Down syndrome a lifeline for any queries or concerns. As is the case with any new hire, it will also help them to form an effective working relationship, encouraging integration and inclusion as one of the team.
Here are several ways that organisations can use to better integrate employees with Down syndrome into the staff roll.
Educating yourself about Down syndrome is the best starting point. By understanding the genetic condition, you’ll be in a better position to support your colleague. Have the HR department provide learning materials or training to help employees ease into the process of providing support for their new colleague. Alternatively, contact an expert organisation for advice.
Make Your Colleagues Feel Welcome
Social inclusion in the workplace is important for all employees, and colleagues living with Down’s syndrome are no exception. Be their pillar of support in the workplace and offer to mentor them in tasks to ensure they have all the help they need. Simply asking them to join you for lunch is one way in making your colleague feel included will also ensure they feel like a valued member of the team.
Stamp Out Bullies
People with learning disabilities can be more vulnerable to workplace bullying. Make it your business to ensure that there is zero tolerance to discrimination or abusive behaviour.
Don’t Underestimate Your Colleague
Although some adults with Down syndrome may need additional training or time to get used to their working environment, do not underestimate their work abilities. Their condition may impede their ability to learn, but that does not mean they do not have the capacity to perform the same tasks as every other employee.