Guest blog by Esi Hardy.
For small businesses, making your business accessible and inclusive for disabled employees to succeed may seem daunting. We see the corporates, with their unlimited budgets spend on Diversity & Inclusion strategies without batting an eyelid. However, it doesn’t have to as hard and it’s not as costly as you may think to be inclusive of disabled people.
Granted, there are things that do cost a lot of money and do take a lot of budget to implement but similarly, there are other things that you could implement in your small business that could encourage disabled employees to feel valued and welcome and for you to reap the benefits of having disabled people in the workplace.
Firstly, lets run through some of the benefits of having disabled people in the workplace:
- Disabled people are less likely to leave the business for another organisation.
If you offer the correct training and support to ensure your disabled employee feels valued within your organisation, you are more likely to retain that member of staff. When the average employee stays with a business for two years, a lifetime employee is valuable, especially when don’t always have the time and financial resources to keep recruiting over and over again.
- Disabled people bring a wealth of experience to the workplace.
The experiences that disabled people bring are very varied as, along with an impairment, a person may also have many other diverse traits. This not only brings a unique perspective into your business but helps your customers to see the diverse range of employees to help them with their unique requirements.
- Disabled people are productive.
On average, take less sick days and utilise less allocated annual leave.
So let’s think again about those things that can be implemented in your business that don’t cost a fortune but communicate to disabled people that yours is the business to work for. Here are five tips:
Create an open and inclusive environment. If you encourage your
employees to talk about the difficulties they are facing both at work and
outside of work, they are more likely to come to you when there is a problem. If this becomes part of your general workplace
culture, you will have created an open and safe environment for every employee
regardless of disability or non-disability.
Create clear processes for support. In modern day diversity and inclusion, policies are sometimes a dirty word. This is mainly because policies are traditionally written by people who have no idea what is happening on the ground and after a policy is written, it is shut in the drawer and forgotten about. However, processes are helpful for supporting people who have those issues that you do not come across on a daily basis. The last thing you want is for your employee to feel undervalued because they have waited six weeks for a response whilst somebody finds out what to do.
Diversity and Inclusion in your induction. When this happens, you are able to easily help every employee understand your ethos. Straight from the beginning of their career with you, they understand that you expect everyone to be treated equally with support needs taken into account. By doing this, you were supporting that open and supportive culture that you would like to permeate throughout your organisation.
Understand workplace adjustments. Or at the very least, find out where the information is. Workplace (or reasonable) adjustments support disabled people to achieve in the workplace. They can be anything from equipment to flexible hours. Anything to support your employee to succeed. It is imperative that when the discussion takes place about support a disabled person needs, they not subsequently waiting months for that support to be implemented. You can find more information on the Gov.uk website. However, if you work with an HR person, they should know about workplace adjustments.
Inclusive recruitment processes. Many a time, disabled people do not apply for roles simply because the recruitment process is not accessible. There are certain things that you can do to ensure that every employee, regardless of disability can successfully apply for a role. I have written a few blogs that offer tips on this subject. However, it is very important to ensure that potential disabled candidates can access your job roles and your interview (sounds simple but it is overlooked a lot). This way, you can ensure that when you are recruiting, all the best people have the opportunity to prove that they are the best candidates.
About the Author
Esi set up Celebrating Disability in 2017; offering training, consulting and auditing to support businesses attract, engage and retain disabled people. Having the opportunity to support businesses to see the wealth of benefits that disabled people can bring to business, either as customers or employees is a privilege. She is passionate about disability equality and inclusion and loves nothing more than that “Ah ha” moment with a client when they see what disability equality and inclusion can do for them.
As a physically disabled person, Esi is able to use lived experience of disability to inform any support, advice and guidance offered to clients. This, coupled with the wealth of experience as a professional in the public and private sector, ensures that any outcomes are meaningful for everyone.
To find out more about any of the information listed above, please feel free to contact me:
Call: 01256 578016