Reasonable adjustments to candidature may be necessary so to support the candidate and increase the likelihood for them to achieve their research goals and timely completion.
Reasonable adjustments are described as changes to the candidature arrangement which allow the candidate to perform their duties effectively.
In identifying potential reasonable adjustments, several factors need to be taken into consideration:
- Identify the core (essential) requirements of the candidate at the current stage of their candidature (e.g. what are the essential goals or requirements – confirmation; completing a literature review etc.)
- Objectively assess the candidate's current skills and abilities. If the candidate is willing to share recommendations provided by treating health professionals (e.g. individual learning plan; medical certificate) with you, this may be of assistance in determining the candidate's current capabilities and potential adjustments that may be required.
- Identify reasonable adjustments in discussion with the candidate. In identifying reasonable adjustment try to be flexible, 'think outside the square' and seek good ideas (what have other supervisors and candidate adopted in similar situations?)
- Check that the candidate can meet the current core requirements of the candidature when reasonable adjustments have been identified.
Examples of reasonable adjustments to candidature include:
- Studying from home
- Reducing candidature to part time
- Taking a period of leave
- Readdressing candidature goals and priorities (e.g. changing timeframes)
If the candidate is experiencing specific difficulties with memory and concentration discuss and encourage adjustments such as:
- Taking notes of meetings and documenting 'action points' arising from meeting
- Using an electronic diary to diarise work tasks and deadlines
- Using diagrams and models to document tasks required so that the candidate can visualise and remember what is required (and by when)
- Encourage the candidate to take regular breaks throughout their day and have time away from study during their week
- Explain complex ideas clearly and simply – repeat and rephrase information where necessary
- Try to link the candidate in with other candidates for additional peer support. Develop a written plan of action, outlining which tasks need to be achieved and by when (colour coding priorities may help)
- Provide informal email reminders of important deadlines
- Have regular meetings to check in with the candidate and review progress
- Provide regular, clear feedback and encouragement to the candidate about their progress
- Provide information for additional support services
It is suggested that candidates and supervisors document any agreed courses of action and adjustments to the candidate's candidature and include a review of progress following the implementation of the adjustments.
See it in action!
The beyondblue website provides a number of videoed role plays between manager and employees.
Go to Christina's story in the link below to see a role play conversation about accommodations to support the employee return to work after a period of leave for a mental health issue. Although the accommodations may vary in respect to supporting a Candidate return to candidature following a period of leave, the guiding principles in how to have this conversation may be helpful to HDR supervisors.