Towards the end of 2023, Bain and Gray began their partnership with the charity, Astriid. Astriid are a fabulous organisation that helps those with long-term health conditions find work. Given their mission, it was a no-brainer that we support them.

In order to kick-start our relationship, Astriid provided us with a hugely informative training session on invisible disabilities and long-term conditions in the work place. In this session we covered what these disabilities look like, how employers can be more supportive and the barriers in place for those with long-term conditions.

The training started with some pretty alarming statistics; Over 500,000 people have dropped out of the workforce since 2019 due to ill health. This takes the total to 2.5 million people missing from the work force due to a long-term condition. This is a huge pool of talent that is overlooked and not utilised.

Long-term conditions or illness are classified by being one that is not expected to significantly improve or be cured in the short to medium-term. Examples of these conditions can be: ME/CFS, MS, Long Covid, Chrones Disease and some mental health conditions. For those suffering, it is important that an open conversation is held between them and their employer to ensure that the correct provisions can be put in place to allow that person to successfully continue working and developing their career. It was found that some of the most successful provisions are including flexible working hours and hybrid working. In particular, this allows those with energy limiting conditions to limit burn out. Other modifications include providing relevant workplace adjustments and facilitating pacing strategies and possibly reducing contracted hours of work.

Disclosing this information to employers can also be overwhelming and barriers include a concern that people won’t understand their condition and exactly how much health information needs to be shared.

The key to maintaining inclusion in the work place (do not forget to read one of our top blogs: why diverse recruitment is better for all of us) ultimately goes back to communication. Astriid proposes some of the following;

  • Think about the language you use every day
  • Look out for signs of people struggling
  • Ask open questions and use active listening
  • Don’t assume
  • Be empathetic & sensitive
  • Ask them where you can learn more about the condition
  • Ask what would help the person do their work
  • Be open to suggestions
  • Respect confidentiality – agree what to say if needed
  • Challenge any judgmental language by other staff

Coming away from the training, Bain and Gray have committed to becoming part of the disability confident scheme and we will be making some changes to our Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging policy. We also will be introducing our clients to this training session with the hope of being able to help find those with energy limiting or long term condition work in 2024.