Diane Lightfoot, CEO of Business Disability Forum
Workplace adjustments (called “reasonable adjustments” under the Equality Act 2010) have long been at the heart of what we do at Business Disability Forum.
For many people, they are the key to enabling them to be their best, most productive selves at work. Yet they remain consistently one of the hot topics for our advice service with frequently asked questions including: What is considered an adjustment? (All sorts of things), Aren’t they expensive? (No, not necessarily and lots are free) and – What’s reasonable? (It depends…)
There are lots of great examples of work in this space. Lloyds Banking Group was an early pioneer in setting up a really integrated, consistent and effective internal approach to workplace adjustments. Barclays have introduced self-service adjustments – trusting employees to be the expert in what they need and allowing them to order kit to a certain spend level (and after all, what’s the risk, unless you think your employees are really going to order speech to text software for all their family for Christmas?). Many organisations have introduced the concept of adjustment “passports” so that employees moving role or applying for promoting within the business can be assured they will still be able to access the support they need. Many more are moving from the language of “adjustments” to “productivity tools” – and that is ultimately what adjustments are. Simply put: “what do you need to do your job well?”
Yet we know that too many disabled people still worry about asking for the adjustments they need – and which could make all the difference to their working life and, yes, productivity. Our Great Big Workplace Adjustment Survey 2019, sponsored by Microlink, found that:
- 28 per cent of those with adjustments and 34 per cent of those without adjustments said they did not make requests because they were worried their employer might treat them differently to how they did before they requested an adjustment.
- 23 per cent of those with adjustments and 31 per cent of those without adjustments said they did not make requests because they were worried other colleagues would treat them differently to how they did before they requested and adjustment.
Of course, workplace adjustments look very different in the context of Covid-19 – for many people and for many months, home has been the workplace and arguably we are all working with adjustments now! But, regardless of the context, a lot rests on the confidence of people managers and the trust that their employees have in them to ask for the support they need, and to know that the support will be there.
So, we are delighted to be running a free webinar on Workplace Adjustments with our Partner Microlink to help gain some insights that can help people managers such as: What were the main findings of the survey? Were there any unexpected findings? How do employees feel differently once adjustments are put in place?