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EARN 2023 Think Tank: Retention in Practice

“Transforming Human Resources (HR) Through Innovative Disability-Inclusive Policies and Practices” participants identified challenges to inclusive retention and potential solutions to address them.

On July 27, 2023, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) and its Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion (EARN) hosted a virtual Think Tank, “Transforming HR Through Innovative Disability-Inclusive Policies and Practices.”

The Think Tank convened employers, consultants, community-based organizations, and disability advocates to identify innovative strategies for increasing workforce disability inclusion, both across industries and at the individual organization level. Discussion centered on inclusion throughout the employment lifecycle, including a session focused on retention. This report summarizes challenges to inclusive retention identified by participants during that session and potential solutions for addressing them.

Challenges: Retention

Participants were asked to think about common barriers to retaining and advancing employees with disabilities, including those who are also members of other historically underserved communities. The following is a summary of participants’ responses.

Solutions: Retention

To identify solutions that promote the retention of employees with disabilities, Think Tank participants shared ideas regarding policies and practices that would have the most significant impact, especially for people with disabilities from historically underserved communities. The following is a summary of participants’ responses.


The following resources can help employers implement the solutions above:

Centralized Accommodation Programs (CAPs)

Information on establishing CAPs as a best practice to promote workforce inclusion.

Inclusion@Work Training Course

Specific strategies on building inclusive business culture, improving retention processes, establishing effective communication processes, collecting data and developing accountability, and measuring effectiveness.

Inclusive Retention: Applicable Laws and Regulations

Information on federal laws and regulations that impact employee retention.

Intersectionality in the Workplace

Exploration of how race, gender, sexuality, economic status, education level, and disability status can impact an employee’s point of view and workplace experience.

Retention Strategies

Learn effective methods to help retain employees with disabilities in specific sectors.

Stay-at-Work/Return-to-Work Programs

Information on how employers can use stay-at-work/return-to-work programs as retention strategies.

Workplace Flexibility

Information on promoting awareness and fostering an understanding of workplace flexibility.

Workplace Mental Health Toolkit

Includes statistics, strategies, evidence-based best practices, checklists, webinars, and case studies on creating a mentally healthy workplace and supportive culture for all employees, including employees with disabilities and others from historically marginalized communities.

Neurodiversity in the Workplace

Resources and guidance on how to include neurodivergent workers.

Working Together

An online training course that reviews general guidelines and best practices for communicating and interacting with applicants, employees, and customers with disabilities in a respectful way.


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