Some tips for businesses recruiting new people.

What do you think:

  • Is your business modern with ambitions for growth?
  • Active and assertive business or passive and reactive?
  • Want the business benefits of equality and diversity?

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are usually defined as employing 1-249 people – and are the backbone of our economy: making up 99% of all enterprises and providing about 60% of employment in the UK.  But recent research suggests that over half (55%) are risking breaking the law when it comes to recruitment, especially around disabled people.  So here are some tips to help.

What are the attributes you want?

  • Motivation.  What could be better evidence than a person who chooses to keep trying to work rather than just sitting at home on benefits with a health condition/disability?
  • Resilience.  What could be better evidence than a person with the determination to overcome their health condition/disability, who doesn’t give up and who keeps applying for jobs?
  • Realistic.  Most people won’t apply for jobs they aren’t able to do – no-one wants to look foolish and fail.  Disabled applicants are just the same so they too won’t apply unless they are confident they can do the job.
  • Adaptability and problem-solving.    Many people find life hectic: juggling home and work, friends and family with colleagues and customers, rest and relaxation with deadlines and targets.  If you want something done, ask a busy person: people with extra demands on their lives are often those already skilled at handling different priorities, managing their time and pre-empting problems.  Living with a health condition/disability is the perfect training as shown by the millions who already work.
  • Interpersonal skills and communication.  Getting the best out of other people can be crucial to businesses when the contribution of every person counts.  Disabled people who sometimes need to rely on others for a helping hand have to become really good at getting others on their side.
  • Reliability.  Workforce turnover, sickness absence and accidents all cost time and money in the short-term and can be disruptive for longer term business operation and growth.  But disabled people are well-recognised as tending to stay longer in a job, being off-sick less and having fewer accidents.  Perhaps they could set the example for the rest?

Don’t get bogged down by health conditions/disabilities:

  • Focus on whether job candidates have the skills, competences, experience you need.
  • Make your decisions about each individual person – don’t lump them in to some vague idea of people you won’t take on.
  • Usually, you shouldn’t ask questions about health until you have made a job offer.
  • The vast majority of working disabled people don’t need any changes or changes that are expensive; for those few who do, Government funding can help through the Access To Work scheme.

Reduce costly risks.

  • Many SMEs don’t think that there’s much risk of being sued or taken to an employment tribunal if they discriminate.  But it is probably worth checking if your business insurance would cover the legal costs.
  • Insurance probably won’t cover any compensation if you are at fault –can the business risk thousands of pounds?
  • The time and worry handling the paperwork of a dispute is probably as bad as the cost.
  • Disputes can make other workers less secure and damage reputation with customers.

Blossom with the benefits of inclusivity.

  • Being interested in equality and trying to employ diverse workers is one of the signs of a growing and ambitious business.
  • Even if you haven’t thought about it, you are probably already successfully employing people with disabilities.
  • Even if you don’t know all the law, being open-minded, keeping up with society’s attitudes and thinking-outside-the-box about people can rub off on the whole business.

Help available.

  • Active and assertive business owners  can easily find out more  free on-line from:

ACAS, EHRC, Disability Confident.

  • Just googling disability in the workplace will give you access to 143,000,000 answers!
  • Ring for some ‘First-Aid’ ideas: 01329 841814.
  • Support to write policies, reduce risks and train the team needn’t cost lots.



If some of these ideas seem sensible, please pass on through your networks and contacts


Penny Melville-Brown

Disability Dynamics ltd

Helping disabled people to work since 2000

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