Read our blog for more information on accessibility in the workplace.
Accessibility is the concept of whether a product or service can be used by everyone—however they encounter it. When we talk about accessibility in the workplace we often focus on the physical barriers, and whilst it is important to understand and wherever possible remove those barriers, there is much more that employers can do to improve accessibility.
Training is a great way to increase accessibility. Older workers often feel that they are at a disadvantage in terms of new technology as it isn’t something that has been part of their everyday life, as opposed to younger workers who have grown up using technology at school and at home almost non-stop. Through effective training staff can not only gain skills that will help your business to grow but they will also be skills that they can deploy outside of work. Training can be a mix of hands on learning but also shadowing and shared learning are really beneficial as you can mix younger and older workers together to learn from each other and share their differing knowledge and experience. This builds a more cohesive team who value their colleagues.
One area of accessibility that is often overlooked is economic accessibility. Put simply economic accessibility is a measure of someone’s ability to pay for something without incurring financial hardship. In the workplace this may seem irrelevant as staff are earning a wage but depending on individual circumstances those earnings may only be sufficient to cover an employee’s essential outgoings. Employees may struggle to buy clothes if an employer specifies a certain dress code, they may not be able to afford transport costs if they are regularly required to work at different locations and even if staff are working from home can they afford reliable broadband to allow them to perform their duties to the best of their ability? Employers should consider economic accessibility as a barrier and review relevant policies and procedures to make sure that staff aren’t potentially excluded.
A further area that hinders some people in accessing work is literacy. According to research from the National Literacy Trust 16.4% of adults in England, or 7.1 million people, can be described as having “very poor literacy skills” or being “functionally illiterate”. If someone is unable to access information about your company in different formats then that presents a barrier to someone who is potentially a great employee. This could easily be overcome with the use of video and images. You may already employ someone who has problems with literacy and they may struggle with reading information such as your staff handbook or newsletter. Consider how you can make your documents easier to read or again if you can offer them in alternative formats. Adults are often reluctant to admit that they have issues with literacy and this leads to them not talking about it and developing their own coping strategies. If you think that someone is struggling then talk to them, offer them support and help to boost their self esteem as this will engage them and help to create a bond of trust.
At CUBE HR we firmly believe in making employment as accessible as possible. If you think that the way you approach accessibility needs some work then get in touch and we’ll be more than happy to have a chat.