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New research cites lack of skills in line managers as major barrier to retention of disabled employees

With disability still considered by many as a ‘taboo’ subject in the workplace environment, and the spend on staff turnover in just five sectors costing UK businesses more than £4 billion annually , a study has revealed the extent to which organisations have in place the skills, confidence and practices which help retain and develop disabled talent

With disability still considered by many as a ‘taboo’ subject in the workplace environment, and the spend on staff turnover in just five sectors costing UK businesses more than £4 billion annually[1], a study has revealed the extent to which organisations have in place the skills, confidence and practices which help retain and develop disabled talent. 

Commissioned by Business Disability Forum (BDF), and supported by de Poel Community, EY, Royal Mail, Lloyds Banking Group, Department for Work and Pensions, Equal Approach and Remploy Employment Services, the report indicates that a lack of skilled and confident line managers is a major barrier to the retention of employees with disabilities. Other key findings include a lack of targeted development opportunities and not enough awareness of disability in the workplace.

In their report, entitled ‘State of the Nation: Retaining and Developing Employees with Disabilities’, BDF discovered that only 20% of the employers set targets for the number of disabled people they would like to have working in their organisation. This number is even lower in the public sector, standing at just 7% of employers.

George Selvanera, Director of Policy, Services and Communications for BDF, said the retention and development strategy can be “a barrier” for organisations, with some employers in need of support and advice in how they can greater accommodate the needs of workers with disabilities.

He said: “As inclusive and open-minded employers, we have a responsibility to ensure recruitment processes are accessible to all and that everyone is made to feel equal and valued in the workplace.

“It is only once we break down these barriers and dispel the myths surrounding disability, that we will reap the countless business benefits of an inclusive and diverse workforce. BDF is working with businesses to build employer and employee confidence in their retention and development strategies.”

Whilst the survey of 145 private, public and third sector organisations revealed these statistics, other key findings demonstrated many employers’ commitment to retaining and developing employees with disabilities. These employers are leading the way in best practice for improving retention, recognising that this can be achieved through very simple, practical actions.

Matthew Sanders, CEO of BDF Partner de Poel Community, comments: “Through this research, we are proving just how simple the process really is, for an organisation of any size, in any sector. It is about visibility, instilling confidence in your line managers, consistency in key polices, a flexible workplace adjustment process and providing targeted development opportunities.

“For any business – whether you are a small organisation or large-blue chip, local or UK wide, operating in the private, public or third sector – you can make a huge difference in the retention and development of disabled employees. Through the work BDF and other companies like de Poel Community are doing, we are seeing some inspiring instances of companies that are leading the way in the inclusion of disabled people, and we can certainly learn from their experiences.”

The launch of the ‘State of the Nation’ report will be supported by a series of events taking place across the UK this Summer, encouraging employers and business to share their success stories and best practice in how to recruit, retain and develop an inclusive workforce.

To download a copy of the ‘State of the Nation’ report, visit: http://businessdisabilityforum.org.uk/about-us/news/state-of-the-nation-report-retaining-and-developing-employees-with-disabilities/


[1] According to Unum, in their report entitled ‘The Cost of Brain Drain’ http://resources.unum.co.uk/downloads/cost-brain-drain-report.pdf