Findings from a new and extensive survey on workplace adjustments were announced today (25 April) at Business Disability Forum’s annual conference in London.
Based on the views of over 1,200 respondents, The Great Big Workplace Adjustments Survey provides a detailed and up-to-date picture of what is and isn’t working when it comes to making and managing adjustments; how effective adjustments are, and how far everyone who needs adjustments has them in place.
A not-for-profit membership organisation, Business Disability Forum sought the views of employees and managers working with adjustments to compile what it believes to be one of the most informed pieces of research available on the subject.
The findings show that almost three quarters (73 per cent) of respondents working with disabilities or conditions who had adjustments in place felt that the arrangements had made a positive difference, removing some of the barriers they experience in workplace. However, only 19 per cent of respondents with adjustments in place felt they had helped to remove all workplace barriers.
The survey raises questions about whether the types of support in place are meeting the needs of employees who have been through the process and secured adjustments. Of all survey respondents with disabilities or conditions who are already working with workplace adjustments, under half (44 per cent) said that they had all the adjustments they needed.
Another 27 per cent had requested other or alternative adjustments that were not yet in place, and 29 per cent had considered them but decided not to request them.
Concerns over the perceptions of their employer and the reactions of colleagues were identified as some of the key reasons for not requesting additional or new adjustments.
In terms of the process itself, whilst it is working well for some, the experiences of respondents with disabilities or conditions and adjustments in place showed instances where improvements could be made:
- The frequency in which respondents had conversations about the effectiveness of adjustments was not as high as Business Disability Forum would advise with 15 per cent saying that they never had these conservations and 3 in 10 (30 per cent) saying they happened once a year or less often.
- The waiting time for adjustments to be put in place, from the initial conservation, showed some signs of improvement on observations made by Business Disability Forum five years ago. Whilst 50 per cent had waited less than three months for adjustments to be put in place and another 20 per cent between three and six months, almost three in ten (27 per cent) were waiting more than 6 months for their adjustments to be put in place (of which, 8 per cent had been waiting over two years).
- Over half of the respondents mentioned that they had experienced difficulties in the process.
- When asked about the future and based on their experience, only three out of ten (30 per cent) respondents were confident their employers would ‘definitely’ respond to adjustment requests, if needed.
The findings also highlighted the need for adjustments to be given greater priority by the board and leadership teams. Approximately a third (32 per cent) of respondents with managerial or supervisory responsibilities agreed strongly that adjustments and support or staff with a disability or long term conditions was a priority at board or senior management level in their organisations. A further 33 per cent agreed slightly and three in ten (30 per cent) actually disagreed. The remaining 7 per cent didn’t know.
Diane Lightfoot, CEO, Business Disability Forum, said:
“We were overwhelmed by the response we received to our workplace adjustments survey. This shows how incredibly important the topic of adjustments is.
“The survey reveals that, when in place, adjustments can have a significant and positive impact on the workplace experiences of disabled people or people with long term conditions.
“Yet, our findings also suggest that at present far too many people do not have any or all the adjustments they need. Many respondents are still worried about asking for adjustments to be put in place, despite feeling that they would benefit from such arrangements. Employees are worried, not just about how their manager would react to them having adjustments, but how other colleagues would as well. It is concerning that this includes many people who have asked for adjustments previously.
“Whilst waiting times for adjustments appear to have improved, managers are still not speaking to colleagues enough about arrangements put in place and whether they are effective.
“The findings also highlight the need to change attitudes towards disability at senior management and board level.
“If we wish to increase the number of disabled people and people with long term conditions entering into and remaining in employment, then getting it right on workplace adjustments is vital. The findings published today are just a starting point. Over the coming months we will be looking at how we can use the findings to influence the advice we give to businesses and Government, and to demonstrate the need for additional research to be carried out on this very important topic.
“We would like to thank everyone who has given their time to contribute to this important piece of research so far. With particular thanks to Microlink for their generous support.”
To find out more about The Great Big Work Place Adjustments Survey and to download findings and reports on the survey go to: https://businessdisabilityforum.org.uk/adjustments and follow developments at #AdjustOurWorkplaces
Findings from The Great Big Workplace Adjustments Survey were announced at Business Disability Forum’s ‘Disability Leading the Way’ Conference in London. The conference was sponsored by HSBC.
To find out more about the conference and speakers go to: https://businessdisabilityforum.org.uk/networking-and-events/bdf-conference/2019-conference/
About Business Disability Forum
Business Disability Forum is a leading non-profit membership organisation which exists to transform the life chances of disabled people. With over 25 years’ experience, it brings together business leaders, disabled people, and Government to understand what needs to change to improve the life opportunities and experiences of disabled people in employment, economic growth, and society more widely. Business Disability Forum provides practical, evidence-based, strategic solutions for businesses to recruit, retain, and provide inclusive products and services to disabled people.
For more information, please visit: http://businessdisabilityforum.org.uk/about-us/
Business Disability Forum asked their membership organisations, partners and stakeholders, as well as the disability, HR and business press and social media to share a link to an online survey about workplace adjustments. The questionnaire explored the experiences and perceptions of getting, and working with, adjustments in the workplace. Employees and managers were asked to take part; the only criteria in place was that they should be UK based and that, if self-employed, respondents should be working with organisations on long term contracts.
The survey link remained open for four weeks from 11th March to 8th April 2019. Taking into account various routing to relevant questions, the average completion time was just under 10 minutes. In total 1287 respondents fully completed the survey. Many of the findings in this press release reflect the responses of individuals with disabilities and conditions who were working with adjustments in place at the time of the survey (651 respondents). More analysis will be available in the full report to follow.
Of course, when an invitation to a survey is disseminated in this way, those who respond are self-selecting and will not represent the offline world or those who are not associated to the channels disseminating the survey link. This being the case, we cannot report the findings as a representative measure of the behaviour and attitude across the whole of the UK. However, each and every response is someone’s story and the feedback is incredibly valuable. This is a large body of evidence. Due to the fact that over 1,200 individuals took the time to share their thoughts and experiences, can build a very detailed picture of what is working in relation to adjustments and what challenges we still face. We now have the ability to give informed opinion on what adjustments are most common, what is needed, and the perceived value and importance of this process in the workplace.
We thank everyone who took time to complete the survey and give us their feedback. A series of papers and a full research report will be released later in 2019. To download findings from the survey, go to: https://businessdisabilityforum.org.uk/adjustments