Lack of clarity on support available prevents employers from recruiting and retaining disabled staff, says a new report from the national charity Action on Hearing Loss.
A YouGov poll conducted for the charity looked into employers’ attitudes to hearing loss demonstrated a lack of confidence amongst businesses when hiring people with hearing loss. It also highlighted a perceived lack of information and advice on supporting people with disabilities in the workplace.
Worryingly, it found that almost two-thirds of business leaders (63%) had never heard of the Government’s Access to Work scheme, a publicly funded employment support programme that aims to help more disabled people start or stay in work by providing practical and financial support where someone needs help or adaptations.
Regarding hearing loss specifically, the research found that over one in three (35%) businesses would not feel confident employing people with hearing loss and over half of respondents (57%) say that there is a lack of support or advice available for organisations when recruiting someone with hearing loss.
The report also highlights a lack of preparation to address the issues of an ageing workforce. Action on Hearing Loss estimates there to be 11 million people in the UK currently living with hearing loss, almost five million of whom are of working age. With people working longer and hearing loss increasing with age, the charity is campaigning to change employer attitudes about hiring people with a hearing loss.
However, nearly two-fifths of businesses (39%) disagree that they feel well-equipped to enable staff to stay productive in the workforce.
The survey forms a basis for Action on Hearing Loss’ new Working for Change report, published by the charity today.
Paul Breckell, Action on Hearing Loss Chief Executive said: ‘We are campaigning to break-down the barriers that people with hearing loss face in gaining employment by urging businesses to sign-up to the Government’s Disability Confident Scheme, which provides resources on recruiting and retaining staff while urging the Government to introduce rigorous evaluations of the scheme to ensure that it is fit for purpose.
‘The Government needs to establish a disability information hub to offer a central one-stop resource for employers, providing them with a vital source of advice, alongside an awareness campaign highlighting its Access to Work scheme, which provides money to help organisations make changes to help disabled people to find and stay in work.
‘We’ve also launched a myth-busting guide which will help businesses recruit and support people with hearing loss and enable them to maximise their potential. It makes no sense that people have to retire or give up work due to their hearing loss because they work in an unsupportive environment. This is costly to employers as they lose highly-skilled staff and need to spend to recruit again.’
The reports Working for change, improving attitudes to hearing loss in the workplace and Working for change, and increasing confidence in employing people with hearing loss are now available to download from here: Working for change
All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 618 adults (aged 18+). Fieldwork was undertaken between 4th - 8th April 2016. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all senior decision makers in GB businesses.