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North East Employer Perspectives

On Wednesday 25th September, we hosted our first employer networking breakfast. The event was a great opportunity for attendees to get a refresher about Moving On Tyne & Wears’s offer for local businesses. Moreover, we wanted the event to generate positive conversation.

To help facilitate the event, we asked people to focus on addressing four questions. Everyone brought their own perspective to the morning which fuelled brilliant discussions. These conversations were so productive, we’ve decided to highlight a few key findings and explore some points in more detail.

Q1. What measures do you/can you put into your workplace to make it more accommodating to people with complex health barriers?

“We could offer four-week supported work programmes.”

A supported work programme could be a significant commitment for an organisation to make. However, what if all your new appointments began under the principle of a four-week supported programme?

Placing high value in nurturing new staff is not only beneficial for that individual’s wellbeing but also instils trust in the employer. Investing in an employee’s first few weeks to ensure they are happy and supported also helps with long-term retention.

Beyond introducing supportive new hire policies into standard recruitment, offering short-term supported work programmes – or trials – for people who are far from the job market could make a significant impact on the job seeker’s lives. It would also be a fantastic addition to a company’s CSR (corporate social responsibility) offer.

“Why don’t we host mental health-focused events for our staff as well as sponsor ones for the public?”

This is a fantastic way to offer your company’s resources! If you have space to host an event or an idea which you need help getting off the ground, why not contact a local charity or community group to support you with launching an initiative?

“What about offering case conferencing as standard practice?”

A case conference is a standardised format where an employee has the opportunity to meet with their line manager, HR representative, or Occupational Therapist to discuss their health needs and how they can be managed in the workplace.

Offering this as standard practice during induction gives staff the opportunity to confidently disclose any health-related matters with the guarantee of openness. If it’s not relevant, new staff can simply opt of our the process.

“We should have our own directories of services and organisations which employees could utilise.”

Why not introduce this type of resource into your welcome pack for all employees? Furthermore, ensure an up-to-date directory is easily accessible through a shared digital drive or something similar. You could even assign a member of staff with the responsibility of updating the directory every couple of months. This is something simple which any company can introduce into their policies.

Q2. What do you understand about job carving? What impact could this approach have on the employee and employer?

Job carving is an approach which allows for elements of a role to be divided among multiple people. For instance, an Administrator may be responsible for answering the phone, managing office supplies, and ensuring paperwork is distributed to relevant people within an organisation. Every week, they may spend an hour printing, photocopying and organising this paperwork. Job carving would involve separating one task – like organising paperwork – from a person’s role and delegating it to someone else.

During our networking breakfast, we discussed the benefits of job carving for the employer and employees. Everyone agreed job carving could be mutually beneficial for everyone involved. It offers the opportunity to free up time for existing staff, allows people to gain work experience, or do a role suited to their individual need/abilities.

Q3. What are some of the realistic reservations you might have when hiring someone with physical/mental health needs?

This is a difficult question to address, but we thought our event was a great opportunity to delve into honest reservations. Accepting the real issues an employer may have when hiring someone with additional needs is an important step towards addressing them.

The most common responses were:

  • Timekeeping
  • Reliability
  • Lack of confidence
  • “I would be worried the person needs extra time off.”

So, how can an employer begin to address these reservations and put measures in place to avoid confronting them?

First and foremost, a lack of understanding on the employer’s part could be damaging for the employee. It’s important to ask, why do you even make the assumption that a person’s health would have any effect on timekeeping or reliability? Moreover, if the person disclosed early on they may need workplace flexibility to support their health – and you were able to discuss workarounds – would that make you more open to the idea?

Developing systems which create open communications will make it far easier for everyone involved. It’s an employer’s responsibility to put them in place.

If your organisation would like to introduce more inclusive hiring strategies or create opportunities for people with health issues, seek help from organisations like ours who can provide you with guidance on how to proceed. External support like this will help reduce the risk for you and the new employee.

Q4. What opportunities can businesses provide to people who’ve experienced long-term unemployment?

Even if you’re not currently going through a recruitment drive, there are many things businesses of all sizes can do to offer people with health issues opportunities which will help them on their journey towards work. For example:

  • Offer work placements/trials
  • Workplace exposure through office visits and shadowing
  • Mentoring by existing staff or management
  • CV support with your organisation’s perspective

Thank you to all the organisations who attended our first business networking breakfast.

Accenture | Karbon Homes | NE1 CAN | Percy Hedley | NC Insurance | Jobcentre Plus | Smart Works Newcastle | Select NRG | Bell Group UK

If you’re an employed interested in discussing how you can work with Moving On Tyne & Wear to offer opportunities to job seekers, get in touch.

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