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Did you know that 80% of people with a disability in the UK have a non-visible condition?
That makes it very likely that someone you work with will be impacted.
In this blog, Scarlette Isaac discusses what it means to have a non-visible disability in the workplace and how interim managers can help provide support upon starting a new role.
What defines a non-visible disability?
A non-visible disability is a physical, neurological or mental condition which is not immediately obvious but can impact the individual on a daily basis. Examples of non-visible disabilities include: diabetes, epilepsy, autism, Crohn’s disease, ADHD and PTSD.
How can I provide support as a manager in the workplace?
As an interim manager, we know you have very little time to get to know your team – but here are a few small ways in which you can help make that all important difference to employees with non-visible disabilities…
As someone with a non-visible disability myself, I know exactly how isolating it can feel when your condition is misunderstood and disregarded just because your daily battles aren’t visible to those around you. In the event that someone shares their disability struggles with you, know that it probably took a lot of courage to open up – so don’t break that trust! Take time to listen and do your best to understand where you as a manager can help make life that little bit easier.
Choose your words carefully
Avoid making blasé comments or assumptions and instead ask questions where you aren’t sure. As always, transparency and communication are key to success here.
One size does not fit all
If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that one size does not fit all when it comes to ways of working. It is important that this same attitude is maintained, even as we emerge away from the Covid-19 pandemic, and that more vulnerable employees have the flexibility to work in a way which suits their idiosyncratic needs. For example, a one-size-fits-all approach to sickness days and absences will likely not be helpful (or in fact, inclusive) for those with a very specific set of requirements.
Make adjustments where possible
Along a similar vine, make sure to ask your team how you could help make them feel more safe and supported in their work environment. We would recommend scheduling a one-to-one meeting in case affected colleagues are not comfortable sharing information about their condition with the wider workplace. Of course, this should only be done in the event that the individual has disclosed their disability to you/HR and has expressed a desire for further support.
All in all, it is crucial that interim managers create an understanding workplace environment from day one so that everyone feels safe and supported. By practising good communication, you can help improve the employee experience and ensure that everyone is on equal footing.