Since the dawn of the recession in 2008 employment has been the topic of the loudest conversation on the streets of Britain. Youth unemployment, public sector cuts, redundancy, pensions: these have been the key concerns of the nation for over half a decade, but there is a significant section of society, a thriving and underutilised workforce, that has largely been ignored.
Of the almost 8 million disabled people of Britain, fewer than half are currently in employment. This represents an enormous skill set that is overlooked at a time when Britain’s employers are complaining that skilled workers are severely lacking in the current job market.
The reasons why employers overlook the disabled workforce largely comes down to ignorance, as businesses are constantly looking for ways to cut their expenses and wrongly believe that hiring a staff member with a disability will cost them money that they don’t want to spend. The realities of disability in the workplace are in stark contrast to what many employers currently believe, and the time to act on diversity and change the face of Britain’s workforce is now.
Diversification of skill sets
Diversity is imperative within a business; hiring the same kinds of people with the same skill set will limit a business’s workforce and alienate them from key sections of society that they may wish to reach out to. Talented, motivated and dedicated people do not come in a specific mould; it is up to employers to look beyond their bias when it comes to what the ideal employee should look like and open their eyes to the people who are actively seeking work.
The majority of disabled people looking for work match or exceed the skill set and talent of able bodied job seekers and, contrary to popular belief, their rate of absenteeism is lower than their non-disabled counterparts. Diversity among a workforce is proven to boost morale and productivity, and with a significant percentage of the current workforce nearing retirement, it is something all employers should be embracing.
Low cost, high impact
The cost of implementing changes to the working environment is minimal, yet they have a wide reaching and positive impact on a company as a whole. While many amendments, such as wheel chair access, are already legal requirements, other add-ons like evacuation chairs, barriers and wheel chair lifts from reputable agencies like K5 Evacuation Chairs are entirely affordable and add to the safety culture within a work place.
Showing you take integration and diversity seriously not only makes a business attractive as an employer but as a service for consumers too. It is estimated that £40 billion per year is spent by Britain’s disabled people on goods and services, and if people feel a company does not represent them, they will take their custom elsewhere.
Attaining and retaining valuable employees
Making your business work for new employees is only one half of the coin. By making access, understanding and integration a part of your business model, you can help ease the strain of any employees who suffer a disability during their time working with you. Communication is the key to retaining staff, however many employees feel that the channels aren’t there if they suffer an accident or injury that changes their ability to do their job as before. By ensuring your company is already able to adjust for people’s specific working needs, you can increase the confidence of your current employees to come to you with their concerns and their requirements.
The cost of amendments is significantly lower than the cost of employee turnover. On-going, honest communication within a company is the key to ensuring employee’s needs are being met, so you don’t lose valuable, skilled, hardworking team members because they feel their needs are an afterthought.
A change for the future
Diversity is something Britain’s emerging workforce is passionate about, so it’s time to widen your recruitment net and utilise the whole spectrum of the country’s talent.
This post was written by Emma Smith on behalf of K5 Evacuation Chairs; leading suppliers of disability and evacuation equipment with over 10 years of experience providing quality equipment to businesses.