D&I Survey: how to improve Safety & Access at work

23 Oct 21 | Blog

Inclusion is extremely important to us at Qlearsite, especially when thinking about the employee experience. We’ve broken down inclusion into four tangible areas to measure it in the workplace – Safety & Access, Belonging, Trust & Fairness, and Acceptance. 

It can be challenging to know how to measure inclusion, and where to start. In this article we’ll be focusing on Safety & Access and why it’s an important factor of how included people feel.  

1. ‘Safety & Access’ in the workplace

When it comes to Inclusion, Safety and Access play a key role in the workplace. This means that everyone should have equal access to facilities and resources, feel safe while at work and employees can pursue their career without fear. 

If all employees don’t feel safe within the workplace or have access to the same resources as their colleagues, the level of inclusivity within an organisation needs to be reflected on.

Safety and access can be broken down into three main areas: AccessibleSafety and Appropriate.

2. ‘Accessible’: considering people’s physical needs

The most basic form of inclusion is equal, free, unhindered movement within common areas and access to all facilities or resources. Accessibility captures a wide range of circumstances – the most common example would be physical accessibility such as wheelchair ramps, braille signage and accessible restrooms. 

Nearly one in five people in the UK has a disability, including more than eight million of working age. However it’s important to note that not all disabilities are visible – for example some people may have hearing loss, visual impairment and learning disabilities. 

When thinking about accessibility within your organisation, it’s essential to consider the needs of all groups of employees. The fundamental point is that all employees should have access to the same resources and facilities within an organisation no matter their circumstance.

Ways to improve Accessibility:

  • Remove physical barriers within your organisation (e.g. parking with spaces reserved for employees and doorways/ entrances that can easily be accessed by wheelchairs).
  • Utilise assistive technology (e.g. sign language apps, braille keyboards or displays, and screen reader software).
  • Invest in training and educating employees on accessibility within the workplace. This helps to raise awareness so all employees know what they can do to contribute to a better work environment for everyone and learn best practices.
  • Increase applicant accessibility. If your online job application isn’t accessible and inclusive to everyone’s needs and abilities you are eliminating potentially great candidates.
  • Encourage employees to give their feedback on what is and isn’t working for them –  be open to their suggestions and consider implementing any relevant changes.

3. ‘Safety’: considering physical and psychological risks

It goes without saying that employees should feel safe when they’re in the workplace. The feeling of safety incorporates a measure of both the realised and perceived danger of workplaces – both physical and psychological safety. If employees don’t feel safe at work, it’s hard for them to feel included. 

Examples of safety in the workplace can include space, workstations, fire, work related stress and harrassment. The idea of safety spans across a range of areas, and it’s vital that physical safety isn’t the only thing being addressed. In 2019/20 it was found that 38.8 million days were lost due to work-related illness and workplace injury. 

Ways to improve Safety:

  • Ensure all employees have received necessary and important training on workplace safety (e.g. first aid and emergency drills).
  • Make sure there are sufficient, effective and up to date warning signs where necessary. 
  • Prioritise information around safety guidance. Ensure it is easily accessed by employees, and they know where to find it.
  • Create a safe space for employees to speak up if they ever feel unsafe in the work environment.
  • Build a culture around trust within the workplace and align behaviours against it.

4. ‘Appropriate’: considering behaviour and interactions

There’s always a time and a place for something, and it’s important to consider colleagues’ perception of each other’s behaviours and whether interpersonal interaction is always well judged. In other words, do employees behave appropriately at work and do they handle personal and difficult situations with sensitivity. 

The way people behave in the workplace can affect the psychological (sometimes even physical) safety of others and different groups of people within an organisation. Examples of inappropriate behaviour can include bullying, harassment, aggression and violence. A recent study has revealed over a third of employees in the UK have experienced or witnessed bullying at work over the past three years.

Ways to improve Appropriate:

  • Define expectations in workplace behaviour and clearly communicate it across your organisation to make sure everyone is aware and understands it.
  • Make sure you hire candidates who reflect the values and behaviours of your organisation.
  • Encourage leaders and managers to lead by example (i.e. they reflect the behaviours expected from everyone in the organisation).
  • Nip any negative behaviours in the bud – be sure to address any improper behaviour immediately so expectations are set and employees can learn from any mistakes.
  • Reward and recognise those who consistently practise the values and behaviours of your organisation.

Why measuring inclusion matters

Measuring Inclusion matters because it directly impacts your employees and their experiences of and with your organisation. Inclusion feeds into other areas of the employee experience such as engagement, productivity and retention. For more information about our Inclusion framework click here.

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