There are over 13 million people in the UK living with some kind of limiting long-term illness, impairment or disability. Despite many improvements in the area of employment disabled people are still more than twice as likely to be unemployed than non-disabled people. It’s been estimated that a 10 percentage point rise in the employment rate among disabled people would contribute an additional £12 billion to the Exchequer by 2030.
It’s clear that focusing on employing a diverse workforce is not only the right thing to do but also makes good business sense; being linked with increased productivity, higher staff morale and better customer understanding. At Enterprise diversity is a central goal in all areas of our business and none more so than in our call centre operations where employees are able to work from home. 40% of our home-based call centre employees stated they would not be able to work if it wasn’t from home and 20% of those cited health issues as the main reason for that.
One such employee is Deborah. Having worked in retail for 25 years and always being extremely active her mobility went downhill very quickly last year due to a back condition meaning she can now only walk up to 50 yards. This blow to her health then led to depression. A career in retail was no longer possible but the home-based call centre role allows her to utilise all her skills in the comfort of her own home. “The flexibility this role gives me is great. Being at home is very calming and working alongside my dog really calms me down.”
Nick was made redundant in 2015 from his role as a retail manager. With 20 years in retail behind him he set up his own business with his wife but at the same time wanted something for himself. Nick suffers from MS and with his health deteriorating home working has been extremely helpful. “Working from home is great. I come downstairs and I’m there. Even if I’m having a bad day as long as I can get down the stairs I’m fine. A bad day in my previous role would have meant a long commute and a struggle to get out of the car. For anyone with any health issues I thoroughly recommend Enterprise.”
Mental health can also be a significant barrier to people gaining and retaining employment. Kim suffers with severe social anxiety and was finding it increasingly difficult to work in an office-based environment, having to leave previous positions because of it. “It’s nowhere near as bad being at home. I’m in my own environment and can be myself. This role has given me the opportunity to have a career which is something I’ve not been able to achieve before.” Working from home, however, doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the social element of work. “The social interaction is still there. I have created a Facebook group for home workers and there’s a great sense of team spirit. There are limited genuine home working opportunities out there. One of the greatest things that has happened to me is being offered this job.”
Susan has had a similar experience. “Home working was the only option for me. I used to work in a high powered retail role but a variety of circumstances have meant that I struggle to leave the house. This role has given me a sense of purpose”. Chelsea suffers from chronic anxiety and is 90% housebound. “I was having to claim sickness benefit before this role but I didn’t want a life on benefits. 99% of home-based jobs seem to be pyramid selling and then I came across Enterprise through Remploy; I immediately thought it would be perfect for me. My manager has been fantastic and so accommodating. I do a team newsletter once a week to give me some time away from the phones and my workload and shift patterns are adaptable. I was really scared to talk about my health condition at first. Much of my life I have been unemployed because of it. Mental health is a taboo subject but it really shouldn’t be. The best thing I have done is to be open and honest with my manager.”
At Enterprise we are proud to be Disability Confident. We are committed to bringing in the best talent to our business and being an inclusive employer. While our home-based call centre positions are flexible and adaptable, with the help of schemes such as Access to Work we actively support all employees, some with sight and hearing impairments, as well as mobility and mental health conditions, with the adjustments they need. Disability needn’t be a barrier to pursuing a career and at Enterprise we recognise the skills that all people can bring and the positive impact they have on our organisation.