Thinking of Requesting Work Accommodations? Your Mood and Confidence Matter

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A summary of a refereed journal article was written at the request of the HF Patient Advisory and Advocacy Council (PAAC) because of its relevance to those with hypersomnias. It highlights some of the issues regarding the complex process of requesting work accommodations. Survey responses from employees with disabilities suggest that several factors may explain whether or not a person decides to request alternate arrangements at work. Specifically, employees who are positive and confident about their request are more likely to report an intent to ask for necessary accommodations.

The article, Requesting Workplace Accommodations: Impact of Self-Efficacy, Outcome Expectancy, and Positive Affect (Dong, et al, 2016), looked at people with disabilities (PWD) and their intent to request accommodations at work. A person’s mood was investigated along with several other cognitive factors to determine whether a PWD intended to make a request.

Several organizations whose membership included PWDs were contacted and asked to distribute a link to an online survey. Respondents were primarily female, white, middle-aged, with a physical disability. Overall, 714 individuals answered the online survey. The key findings of this study are:

  • Our mood can lead to the intent to request. Requesting work accommodations is a risky, possibly negative experience, but those who feel more positive and have more determination and enthusiasm tend to be the individuals who are committed to requesting help.
  • A variable called self-efficacy was measured to assess whether individuals feel confident about their ability to perform once accommodations are in place. Those individuals who felt they could achieve work goals (with accommodations) were, in fact, more likely to be ready and committed to requesting help. (Note: Self-efficacy refers to an individual’s self-confidence in whether they can complete a task or achieve a goal.)
  • Similarly, PWD who thought that their co-workers and supervisors would feel requests were appropriate, and who were confident in their ability to make a request, also were more likely to intend to request work accommodations.

Overall, these findings highlight that emotional and cognitive factors play a role in the complex process of requesting accommodations and that 1) those who believe they have the ability to request accommodations, and 2) those who feel they can complete their job tasks with accommodations in place, state they are committed and ready to make the accommodations request.

This article is relevant to people with hypersomnias because:

  • Idiopathic hypersomnia, narcolepsy, and other hypersomnias can interfere with a person’s ability to work a regular schedule.
  • Many people with hypersomnias may find themselves in the position of needing to request work accommodations.
  • People with hypersomnias might also benefit from interventions or programs designed to improve self-efficacy, mood, and self-advocacy skills.

Source: Dong, S., Fabian, E., and Xu, J. (2016). Requesting Workplace Accommodations: Impact of Self-Efficacy, Outcome Expectancy, and Positive Affect. 

This summary was reviewed and approved by Dr. Jason Ong, a Member of the HF Medical Advisory Board, and HF PAAC members. It was approved on September 3, 2020.

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