The job market for disabled people seems to have suddenly become a lot worse. There have been issues in the past, but at the moment it seems as if being disabled and finding employment is more of a challenge than it has ever been. Recent studies seem to bear out this thinking. It’s not necessarily good news.
A report by the charity Scope has found that there are a disturbing number of disabled employees falling out of work, where previously they have been employed. The report is called A Million Futures, and it had a comprehensive amount of research fed into it. This makes it even more damning.
What’s depressing here is that there is a clear issue around flexible working. In fact, as part of the report, nearly half the respondents stated that having flexible working arrangements would have kept them in work. This is staggering, and is indicative of the problem that some employers face at the moment. Until they are able to confidently help their employees manage disability in the workplace and offer flexible working as part of this, there will be many more people leaving work simply because they cannot access it easily enough.
It seems that the focus has indeed been simply on getting disabled people into work. This is a noble gesture on the part of the government, but it does mean that some people are then finding themselves in a work place that they don’t feel accommodates them. It’s important for a disabled person to be in work, but that work has to be something they can do and that they feel comfortable doing. This is not just about physicality either. If someone has a mental illness, then they should also feel comfortable at work.
If you are an employer, it pays to be more transparent about your own issues around disability. In fact, let’s not call them issues, but instead focus on the fact that not everyone has a 100% crystal clear understanding of how best to make the workplace accessible to disabled people. Remember that ‘accessible’ does not mean about being able to get a wheelchair into the place, although that of course is Important. Instead, it means making the workplace welcoming and somewhere the disabled person can feel that they can discuss a disability and a change in working conditions if this is necessary.
Working from home is an option if you’re disabled
The rise in the number of people in the country who are working from home, and doing very well at it in fact, should show employers that there are plenty of options for them when it comes to disabled employees. You don’t have to have a disabled person at home all the time. They could spend some time at home completing their work, and coming to the office when it is necessary for meetings etc. Or they can increase their time in the office over time.
Personally, I think it’s quite shocking that such a large percentage of disabled people complain about flexible working arrangements. This is the 21st century, and there are a million ways in which people can work. Disabled people should have more options available to them than they have before. Like I stated earlier, it’s just a question of confidence and educated decision making.
Let’s go back to that number one more time, and think about that 430,000 disabled people who fell out of work. This means that they want to work but they just did not find the right conditions, and eventually fell by the wayside. That’s 430,000 willing people who want to hold onto their jobs and make progress and stay aspirational. All of this has to change, and transparency is the key.
If you want to learn a little bit more about how you can develop this transparency and start building in good practice regarding retention of disabled employees, contact me for a quick discussion about the options open to you.
In the end, two things are important here. First and foremost, it’s about the well-being of people who want to work. Secondly, it’s your business, and the bottom line that we call revenue.
Time for a change.