The Great Resignation and the New Work World – Recovery Planning, Inclusion and Accommodation

The Great Resignation and the New Work World – Recovery Planning, Inclusion and Accommodation

Human Rights and Recovery Planning – A new policy from OHRC

On November 9, 2021, the OHRC released its Policy statement on human rights in COVID-19 recovery planning. 

“Since March 2020, COVID-19 has taken a stark health, social and economic toll on communities, with more than 9,750 lives lost in Ontario, 28,000 lives lost in Canada and over 4.5 million lost worldwide. But the impact of this pandemic has not been felt equally. The most vulnerable groups in Canadian society have been disproportionately negatively affected. A 2021 Statistics Canada study on the labour market during the pandemic reveals the unemployment rate among Black Canadians is about 70% higher than White Canadians. Also, recent data confirms that 50% of Toronto’s COVID-19 cases have been people with low incomes. Almost 80% of the cases are racialized individuals, who only represent 51% of the overall population.” (OHRC 2021)

The OHRC developed this policy statement to:

  • Promote awareness about the negative impacts and entrenched systemic inequality exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic on individuals and groups protected by the Code
  • Establish human rights principles to guide governments and service providers in recovery planning, policy and program design and implementation
  • Promote the positive obligation of governments and service providers to examine sources of discrimination and inequitable conditions by applying a human rights lens and equity audit to all legal analysis and policy decision-making
  • Promote compliance with the Code duty to make sure all vulnerable groups benefit equally from any legislation, policies, programs and requirements designed to promote pandemic recovery.

The Ontario Human Rights Commission identifies that that pandemic has an unequal impact on those employees who have disabilities as well as racialized individuals.

Why is Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Important to the Accommodation Process?

“2020 shone a harsh light on society, highlighting the gaps of inequity that many of us already knew existed to those who were privileged enough to be blissfully unaware previously. We saw the globalisation of the Black Lives Matter movements after the murder of George Floyd. We saw societies shutting down and attempting to pivot into a new way of working and life. We saw COVID-19 disproportionately affect people of colour and those from poorer backgrounds, across redundancy rates, infections and deaths. Individuals with disabilities are traditionally underemployed making less in pay over their lifetime.” (Forbes, 2021).

According to recent research by Microsoft, more than 40 per cent of the global workforce are considering leaving their employers this year. Retaining and recruiting persons with disabilities will involve a conscious process of providing an environment, tools and workplace roles that allow individuals to have the accommodations that they require early and sustainably.

Nearly half of recruiters said job seekers are inquiring about disability and inclusion initiatives more than they did in the previous year–up 16% points from 2020. 44% of those surveyed said that candidates have turned down an interview or job offer due to a lack of diversity in the company’s workforce (Forbes, 2021).

We have seen that systemic barriers in our workplace have had a significant impact on our employees with disabilities. As we recover back to our new work approach it is key to consider those barriers that we can break down for those with disabilities.

Ensuring that you have an inclusive workplace with clear processes, training and support for all individuals to be included in the workplace. This includes a clear accommodation process. What are the consistent and fair steps for accommodation in your workplace?

What are the key components of inclusive leadership for persons with disabilities?

Employees need to have the following in order to feel included in the workplace:

  1. Feeling valued for what they bring to the workplace
    • How does your management include individuals with different skills, experience and background?
    • Ensure that employees are listened to and allowed to express their concerns and ideas
    • Recognize and reward contribution by all employees
    • Provide support for accommodations to allow employees to see that they are valued
  2. Feeling trusted and that leaders trust them
    • Provide clear direction and expectations
    • Allow employees to approach the expectations in the way that they can succeed
    • Provide the right tools, the right environment and the right skills so employees can succeed
  3. Demonstrate authenticity
    • Bring whole selves to work – talk about boundaries, balance and self-care
    • Discuss what is needed from colleagues and leaders to succeed in the workplace
    • Create a culture that employees are comfortable sharing
  4. Psychological safety – the ability to admit to missteps or mistakes and take risks
    • Being able to have trial and error in doing the work
    • Squashing perfectionism
    • Being able to give and receive feedback to support taking risks in the future
    • Feeling comfortable to ask for accommodations as needed to succeed at work

What Employers Can Do for Due Diligence

According to a policy from the Ontario Human Rights Commission on preventing discrimination based on mental health, disabilities and addictions, in order to best prepare for an accommodation, employers should:

  • Understand that the duty to accommodate is informed by three principles: respect for dignity, individualization, and integration and full participation.
  • Be aware that the duty to accommodate mental health disabilities is no less rigorous than the duty to accommodate physical disabilities.
  • Understand that each and every accommodation case is unique and should be treated accordingly.
  • Work with an expert accommodation provider or Occupational Therapist on an ongoing basis to manage the accommodation process.
  • Accept requests for accommodation in good faith and take an active role in exploring traditional and alternative solutions.
  • Conduct open discussions about possible accommodation solutions to gain more insight.
  • Be aware that an accommodation may be necessary even in cases where the employee has not made a formal request.
  • Implement accommodations in a timely manner.
  • Be discreet and respectful, and maintain trust and confidentiality.

How Gowan Consulting Can Help

  • We provide support for policy and procedures development for your accommodation program. Contact us to learn more.
  • We train managers and employees on the duty to accommodate and inclusive leadership. Visit our website for all our training opportunities or contact us to learn about customized sessions for your whole team.
  • We provide objective Occupational Therapy assessments for accommodation requests. Make a referral today and we will connect you with one of our highly trained Occupational Therapists across Canada to help you meet your employees’ needs.

Works Cited

OHRC Policy statement on human rights in COVID-19 recovery planning, Ontario Human Rights Commission, November 9, 2021,

Diversity And Inclusion Are The Differentiators You Need To Beat The Great Resignation,, Sheree Atcheson, November 17, 2021,

HRPA Conference 2021, The Great Resignation Panel, November 2021

2 comments on “The Great Resignation and the New Work World – Recovery Planning, Inclusion and Accommodation

  • Sandra McVeety says:

    Accommodations for mental health because of co-worker harassment or bullying. Does the employer need to accommodate for this mental health concern?

    • Nancy Gowan says:

      Hi Sandra, thank you for your comment. It appears that there would be two separate issues to address in your question. It is important to address the harassment/bullying concern that may be present, by providing education and training to the team on this topic in order for all employees to feel safe. If you have an employee experiencing a mental health condition that is impacting their ability at work, you do also have the duty to accommodate for this as you would any health condition. I would be happy to discuss further with you, if you would like to set up a time to chat using the following calendar link:


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