Skip to main content

The Great-West Life Assurance Company, London Life Insurance Company and The Canada Life Assurance Company have become one company – The Canada Life Assurance Company. Discover the new Canada Life

The Great-West Life Assurance Company, London Life Insurance Company and The Canada Life Assurance Company have become one company – The Canada Life Assurance Company. Discover the new Canada Life

Your web browser is out-of-date. For the best experience, please update to a modern browser like Chrome, Edge, Safari or Mozilla Firefox.

Freedom 55 Financial is a division of The Canada Life Assurance Company and the information you requested can be found here.

Creative options to accommodate employees in the workplace

Key takeaways

  • Finding ways to accommodate employees with health issues is the right thing to do for you and your business and for them.
  • Accommodation solutions should be effective and sustainable.
  • A list of possible accommodation solutions for areas of concern.

Considering ways to accommodate

When an employee faces a medical condition, illness or injury that affects their capacity to work effectively, you need to examine their limitations and restrictions. You need to think about what modifications to make to allow your employee to remain productive and safe while considering the needs of your business. 

What’s a good accommodation solution?

It’s one that: 

  • Is individualized to meet the specific needs of the employee
  • Is the most affordable and easiest to implement
  • Causes little disruption to your business
  • Will get buy-in from the employee and their supervisor
  • Will likely work for the entire time you need the accommodation
  • Will make sense to co-workers and be perceived as fair, as much as possible

Think creatively 

Together with your employee, you’ll likely need to brainstorm several solutions to find an effective accommodation that suits their specific needs and the needs of the workplace. 

You may want to include others as appropriate, such as their chosen representative, direct supervisor or their health care provider.

Sometimes there’s an obvious solution but often, there isn’t. It’s a good idea to reconsider what seems obvious at first to make sure you’re choosing the best solution for everyone.

Possible accommodations

Here’s a list of cognitive and physical functions that may be limited and modifications you may want to consider and discuss with your employee. 

Area of concern for cognitive limitations, and accommodations to consider

Adaptability and flexibility

  • Offer flexibility around hours of work
  • Offer flexibility around deadlines
  • Offer flexibility around the time of day to complete tasks
  • Establish a clear routine and structure to workdays
  • Clarify expectations and how you’ll measure performance

Attention to detail

  • Break tasks into a series of smaller tasks
  • Give more time to complete the work
  • Examine possibility to do only one thing at a time
  • Consider frequent short breaks instead of a few long breaks
  • Create a checklist that includes each step of a task for the employee to use for quality control

Co-worker relationships

  • Make sure all staff understand expectations in terms of behaviour in the workplace
  • Implement strategy to deal effectively with conflict
  • Give open and honest feedback

Dealing with pressure

  • Review assigned tasks to establish a reasonable amount of time for completion
  • Establish regular times to check in
  • Define priorities clearly and review them often
  • Discuss the best way to give feedback during times of pressure


  • Create a list of areas where decisions should be reviewed or discussed
  • Create a decision tree template to help the employee
  • Provide a mentor or coach to review decisions and decision processes

Distractibility or trouble focusing

  • Provide a quieter workspace with fewer distractions
  • Consider use of a noise cancellation headset, white noise machine or earplugs to reduce noise
  • Clear the work area of clutter
  • Consider work from home vs. work from the work site
  • Use to-do lists or wall calendars and planners
  • Recommend turning off distractions such as cellphones or close-web browsers

Exposure to confrontational situations

  • Provide training specific to situations to which employee is exposed
  • Discuss potential confrontation situations and recommended responses
  • Consider how to provide or increase support for the employee in confrontational situations
  • Offer to role-play confrontational situations
  • Exchange tasks with other employees

Exposure to stressful situations

  • Provide genuine praise and positive reinforcement regularly
  • Allow time to talk or text with a counselor when situations arise
  • Consider breaks to unwind and meditate and short frequent breaks instead of fewer longer ones

Memory and recall

  • Choose a tool to help with organizing such as a calendar, notes or lists
  • Recommend use of recording devices on smartphone to provide playback of instructions and with permission, record meetings
  • Provide instructions and assignments in writing
  • Set up regular reminders of upcoming appointments or deadlines
  • Arrange regular meetings with leader to review priorities


  • Change processes to allow the employee to focus on one task at a time
  • Develop a list of tasks and review priorities
  • Remove non-essential functions of the job
  • Recommend returning calls or emails at predetermined times during the day
  • Create a daily or weekly schedule with time periods allocated to different tasks

Problem solving and analysis

  • Assign someone to help with problem solving
  • Create a list of situations that would show the need to reach out for help
  • Plan regular check-ins to review problem solving process


  • Create detailed task lists and timelines
  • Have frequent check-ins
  • Organize outcome measurements by task, day, week and month
  • Set priorities and direction for dealing with conflicting priorities
  • Provide a list of alternate supervisors to contact when necessary

Supervising others

  • Provide training to deal with stress in the workplace
  • Offer support from a mentor or coach to deal with challenging situations
  • Create a safe space to debrief from challenging interactions
  • Discuss behaviours that others could interpret as problematic
  • Reduce supervisory responsibilities

Area of concern and accommodations to consider for physical limitations


  • Teach correct body mechanics
  • Make enough space to replace bending with sitting or squatting
  • Bring items up to level that doesn’t require bending

Climbing stairs

  • Consider if stairs can be avoided
  • Allow more time to climb stairs slowly or one step at a time
  • Install ramp or handrail

Driving and parking

  • Install rear-view camera and/or wider mirrors
  • Use vehicle equipped with an automatic transmission
  • Add a lumbar support to the seat to relieve pressure on back

Gripping and manipulating small items

  • Recommend using other hand
  • If gloves are used, consider thinner or more adhesive gloves
  • Recommend a wrist support
  • Discuss using larger tools or utensils with a better grip


  • Provide headsets with adjustable volume
  • Recommend communication in writing
  • Install software for subtitles
  • Suggest a rule for one person at a time to speak in meetings


  • Reduce weight of items that need to be lifted
  • Provide time to move fewer items at a time to reduce the weight
  • Allow time to learn and practice correct body posture when lifting
  • Provide tools like carts to support the weight of items 


  • Place items closer
  • Remove clutter to avoid reaching over unnecessary objects
  • Recommend walking over or around an obstacle instead of reaching
  • Provide a long arm-reacher tool to reach objects

Stamina and fatigue

  • Have access to water and balanced snacks
  • Allow for frequent and short breaks
  • Provide a quiet, dark resting space
  • Consider different work shifts and avoid consecutive shifts where longer periods without breaks will be required
  • Adapt the work schedule to allow for longer breaks during the day
  • Avoid overtime
  • Review physical requirements of the job and adapt to reduce them


  • Provide stool or chair for intermittent breaks
  • Provide a sit/stand stool
  • Recommend supportive footwear
  • Install anti-fatigue mats on the floor


  • Install sit/stand workstation
  • Consider an ergonomic chair
  • Educate on proper workstation ergonomics
  • Introduce frequent breaks for standing, walking and stretching
  • Provide wireless headset to allow the employee to walk around during calls


  • Adjust workflow to allow for full body movement instead of twisting
  • Provide direction for correct body mechanics


  • Consider ergonomic keyboard and mouse
  • Install voice-recognition software
  • Alternate tasks to avoid long periods of typing


  • Install anti-glare screens
  • Install screen-magnification software
  • Adjust colour contrast in documents
  • Install proper lighting or shields
  • Allow frequent breaks to rest eyes


  • Arrange space to allow for use of a walking aid
  • Provide longer periods of time to walk between different locations
  • Regroup tasks to limit walking
  • Place chairs along walkways for rests

Gather and read through helpful resources

Read through helpful resources like:

What's next?


Let Canada Life help you keep your employees at work. We can: 

  • Assess the validity and duration of an accommodation request .
  • Suggest viable and realistic accommodation solutions .
  • Support your employee with a treatment plan that’ll help them recover their health .

The information provided is accurate to the best of our knowledge as of the date of publication, but rules and interpretations may change.  

This information is general in nature, and is intended for informational purposes only. For specific situations you should consult the appropriate legal, accounting or tax advisor.

Related articles