Workplace values biggest aid to retention of disabled employees, finds BDF report

Good workplace adjustment processes and organisational values are considered the most important aids to the retention of disabled employees, according to new research.

The Business Disability Forum (BDF), second stage retention report entitled: State of the Nation: Retaining and developing employees with disabilities – Stage 2, surveyed 352 employees from across large private and public sector employers nationally about the types of practices associated with the development of employees with disabilities and long term health conditions.

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George Selvanera, Director of Policy, Services and Communications at BDF said: “It is encouraging the extent to which disabled employees largely point to the same factors as affecting their retention and progression as their employers. The skills and confidence of line managers being especially significant. At the same time, disabled employees place even more priority on adjustment processes that deliver the right adjustment quickly and to having opportunities for targeted development such as coaching and mentoring to build their skills and confidence.

“This research reminds us that giving visibility to disability and equipping line managers and HR professionals with the skills, confidence and tools to help disabled colleagues succeed and grow are fundamental for any organisation seeking to say they are disability confident.”

The report compares the findings with employer perspectives to gain a more in-depth understanding of the biggest barriers and most effective aids in this area. Key findings are that disabled employees prioritise workplace adjustments as fundamentally essential to their retention, with 1 in every 2 disabled employees stating this is the single most important aid to their retention and development.

Of concern however, is the degree to which disabled employees are less confident about the functioning of their workplace adjustment processes than non-disabled colleagues and employers. More than 3 in 10 disabled employees do not think that their organisation understands their legal obligations regarding workplace adjustments and did not know where to access advice about appropriate workplace adjustments from within their organisation. 

When contrasted with employer views, this is deeply troubling as 83 per cent of employers felt that employees could easily access advice regarding adjustments. The report also uncovers significant differences in perceptions about the visibility of disabled role models, with disabled employees much less likely to identify disabled role models in their organisation (30 per cent) than non-disabled employees (46 per cent).

Despite these differences, overwhelmingly, all employers and disabled and non-disabled employees identify that the skills and confidence of line managers is the single biggest barrier to the retention and development of disabled employees. As with their employers, just over half of employees reported this as the largest barrier to their retention and development. In the same way, more than half of all employers and employees also identified how fundamentally important organisational values are to whether there is good retention practice.


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