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February 2018
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TD Magazine

When One Size Does Not Fit All

Which new-hire training practices are rated most effective for employees with disabilities?

A one-size-fits-all approach may not be the best tactic for training new hires. In a recent study, supervisors were asked to rate the effectiveness of their organization's new-hire training methods and indicate whether they felt the method was as effective for employees with disabilities as it was for all employees in general. The study found that each method was rated less effective for employees with disabilities.

In the study, conducted by the Kessler Foundation and the University of New Hampshire Institute on Disability, 93 percent of supervisors who reported having a process in place for supporting new hires to learn their jobs felt the process was effective. However, 73 percent believed the process was equally effective for employees with disabilities. Supervisors likely perceive them as less effective because uniform approaches may not address any specific needs employees with disabilities may have.

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The survey examined the effectiveness of three specific training practices: on-site training, job shadowing, and short-term outside assistance.

On-site training by a supervisor or co-worker is the most commonly used practice, with 73 percent of organizations automatically offering it to new hires. Ninety-seven percent of supervisors found it to be effective, and 81 percent believed it was as effective for employees with disabilities.

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Six in 10 organizations automatically offer job shadowing to train new hires. This practice was rated most effective of the three, at 98 percent, and 75 percent indicated it was as effective for new hires with disabilities.

The last method, short-term outside assistance in any form (such as job coaching), was least widely used; just 19 percent of organizations automatically offer it. Notably, though, this method had the smallest gap between overall perceived effectiveness (89 percent) and effectiveness for employees with disabilities (86 percent). Because of that smaller gap, the report recommends using this type of method to provide effective training for all employees. Such one-on-one training practices, tailored to the employee rather than the job role, are valuable in helping new employees learn their responsibilities.

About the Author
Shauna Robinson is a junior research analyst at the Association for Talent Development (ATD). Her previous positions at ATD include human capital specialist and communities of practice coordinator.

Prior to working for ATD, Shauna was a senior editorial assistant at Wiley in San Francisco, California. Shauna received a bachelor’s degree in English from UC Berkeley.
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