Flexibility, Empathy and Access – The core needs of attracting disability candidates over 50, back into work

With a government objective of encouraging the over 50’s back into work and numerous reports which warn of a mass exodus of older workers from the labour market, Evenbreak reached out to their candidates to talk about the lived experience of an over 50 disabled person in work.

They spoke about their experience of working with candidates over 50-years-old, and asked such candidates what employers should be considering when recruiting for these roles. With almost 19,000 relevant jobs currently live on the Evenbreak job board, it is clear this is an untapped corner of the market for employers. And with a £22 million government package to help over 50s find new careers and earn more money by boosting time with Work Coaches and bringing in specialist support, this has never been more important.

Here are the key points candidates raised.

Flexibility – employers simply aren’t flexible enough when it comes to disability 

Zurich UK research found that nearly one in five UK adults over 50 were deterred from applying for new jobs because of a lack of flexible working opportunities. Put simply, a number of candidates sadly didn’t have a huge amount of positivity around flexibility and felt that everything was a constant battle and left them feeling disbelieved, especially in relation to invisible disabilities.

And in the work environment, small adjustments matter. We’re not just talking about hybrid working, it’s a myth that all disabled people want to work from home. Evenbreak’s annual candidate survey shows an even split of candidates who want home working, hybrid and office work. There may be small adjustments to seating, lighting, work stations and the technology used that would make a huge amount of difference to everyday working life.

Archaic paperwork that makes you feel like a nuisance 

Whilst legal paperwork is clearly needed in the workplace, there may be ways around this feeling like you’re on trial to explain your disability. Occupational health reports may well be needed, but they don’t need to feel accusatory when candidates have disabilities they’ve been living with their entire lives, visible or otherwise. This sets a negative tone and makes a disabled person feel devalued and unwanted. Make this process less clinical and more inclusive.

Access to work – it’s that obvious 

This comes as a given to able bodied people, but for disabled candidates or employees, struggling with physical access to getting to their place of work is a hurdle that is all too often present and this sets a negative tone from the off. Employers need to think about this and make the appropriate changes.

A long term view – often employers have short termism 

For example, all too often employers see a candidate asking for reasonable adjustments to their working life as a negative and time consuming chore. However, if we’re looking at disabled over 50’s candidates as a long term member of the business this simply should not be the case.

What you need is an employer who starts with the position of ‘yes, we’ll see if we can accommodate that’, rather than a sometimes default position of no and making you feel like you’re asking for something outrageous or making it a two month battle. That way employers will keep employees loyal to their business for longer.

What qualities do employers need? 

It was clear from speaking to a number of candidates both with Evenbreak and those who use our database that empathy, consideration and a long term view were the main characteristics of an employer who cares.

As with any candidate, a disabled candidate is simply a human with individual needs and managers or HR departments need to treat them so and alleviate that all-to-often feeling of being a burden or a hassle for asking for adjustments.

If a candidate is applying for a job, they are a serious contender and in order for them to stay with the business for as long as possible, understanding their individual needs and working with them, rather than against them will benefit everybody involved both in the short and long term. The candidate will feel valued, respected and have their needs met in order for them to do their job properly, and the employer will have a dedicated team member that stays and grows with the business and adds value to the organisation, regardless of age or disability.

Evenbreak would like to thank its candidates for taking part in this article. For more information, visit  evenbreak.co.uk

About Lisa Baker, Editor, Wellbeing News 4120 Articles
Editor Lisa Baker is passionate about the benefits of a holistic approach to healing. Lisa is a qualified Vibrational Therapist and has qualifications in Auricular Therapy, Massage, Kinesiology, Crystal Healing, Seichem and is a Reiki Master.