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Disability still holds people back in the workplace

A new report from the Reward and Employee Benefits Association (REBA) in association with healthcare provider Bupa, has found that disability is still a barrier to progression in the workplace, with greater flexibility and personalised benefits needed by employers.

A new report* has found that disability is still a barrier to progression in the workplace, with greater flexibility and personalised benefits needed by employers.

The report* surveyed over 300 employed people identifying as disabled, having a long term or chronic illness or having an impairment or condition. Over half (51%) of respondents agreed that their disability is a barrier to progressing in their career, and a significant minority (34%) believe that their employer could do more to support them.

The report points to the need for businesses to engage and listen to employees to help build a supportive, inclusive culture, with disabled employees indicating that they would be willing to talk openly about their experiences (65%) in order to help employers better understand their needs.

Greater flexibility is the top benefit that disabled workers want to help them succeed at work; including the flexibility to work remotely, take longer breaks, factor in medical appointments or design their roles. However, fewer than one in five (18%) disabled employees currently have access to flexible working.

Other key workplace benefits include support with everyday health costs (43%), mental health support (43%) and private medical insurance (38%).

The report shows the importance of meaningful workplace benefits to help shore up recruitment and retention; findings showed a close link between employees who receive benefits and those who said they would recommend their employer to others.

Debi O’Donovan, Director and Co-Founder of REBA said: “Our research brings together the lived experiences of disabled employees and the employers who support them. We wanted to find out how workplace culture, HR practices and employee benefits can help disabled employees to thrive in their careers.

“The findings show that when employers listen to employees and work together to genuinely understand individuals’ needs, make meaningful adjustments and offer benefits that support flexibility and security, employees are more likely to have a positive experience at work. That is reflected in greater engagement, talent retention and employees who are more likely to recommend their employer to others.”

Tom Hoosen-Webber, Chief People & Procurement Officer, Bupa Global & UK, said: “A happy, productive workforce is better for business. Employers have a responsibility to create an inclusive and supportive environment that allows their people to meet the requirements of their role, whilst also providing support to manage their health needs. There’s no one size fits all solution; to attract and retain critical talent employers must listen to their people and be prepared to make personalised adjustments.

“As the Official Healthcare Partner for ParalympicsGB we are working to drive greater inclusion in the workplace and in wider society. This starts by making everyone feel welcome, safe and supported to be their full selves at work.”

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