High operational support for people with disabilities

Barrier-free workplaces and organizational and personal support for people with disabilities in the workplace are important prerequisites for successful corporate integration. The recently published final report by the federal government on the participation of people with disabilities shows that companies often do this.

The Institute of Applied Social Sciences GmbH (infas), together with the University of Applied Sciences in Fulda, the Berlin Center for Social Research (WZB) and the University of Applied Sciences in Duisburg-Essen, has been working on behalf of the Federal Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs (BMAS) for four years – from 2017 to 2021 – over 22,000 people were interviewed (BMAS, 2022, p. 45). This makes this participation survey the most comprehensive of its kind in Germany so far. It examines, among other things, what kind of support people with disabilities use to lead an independent life.

This short report selects individual results from the “Work and Employment” chapter and takes into account other studies on the subject.

People asked

Researchers in the participatory survey collected data from three different groups (BMAS, 2022, p. 36f.):

  • 16,003 disabled and disabled persons in private households (including 5,042 persons with a severe disability pass, i.e. the degree of disability – GdB – from 50 to 100)
  • 6,062 able-bodied and disabled persons in households (comparative sample)
  • 3,354 inhabitants in 327 buildings

This short report concerns only the first mentioned research group.

The participation survey distinguishes between people with disabilities and people with a disability self-assessment (BMAS, 2022, p. 31 and see the table on the next page):

  • People with disabilities: People with at least one long-term functional impairment who, according to their subjective self-esteem, have little or no limitations in their daily life
  • People with self-assessed disability: the person says that they have at least one functional impairment and that their daily activities are quite or severely limited according to their subjective assessment. For this subjective self-esteem, information on the severity of individual functional impairment is associated with the limitations of everyday life

Work-life questions included job satisfaction and the need for workplace support.

the need for on-the-job support

The survey asked, inter alia, o the need for technical, organizational and personal support at the workplace. It has been shown that people with self-assessed disabilities have greater needs in all areas than people with disabilities. This need is also largely met – the infas report speaks of a “fairly positive image” (BMAS, 2022, p. 157). For example, 12% of women and men with self-assessed disabilities said they need and have an adapted, barrier-free workplace. Only 3% said they needed it, but they don’t. When it comes to “technical aids”, 4 percent each. stated that they lacked the technical aids needed for their work (table).

Job satisfaction very high

People working with and without a disability are equally satisfied or very satisfied with their work: 91 percent of women with a disability and non-disabled say they are very satisfied or somewhat satisfied with their work. There was a difference of three percentage points between the men: 93 percent of men without and 90 percent of men with disabilities said they were somewhat or very satisfied. In the group of women and men with self-assessed disability, about ten percentage points less say that they are somewhat or very satisfied. However, with 81% of both women and men, the vast majority of people with self-assessed disability are somewhat satisfied or very satisfied with their work (BMAS, 2022, p. 158).

These results of the infas participation survey also confirm the results of the IA survey on job satisfaction among people with disabilities. Due to the different target groups in the two surveys, the results are not directly comparable but are usually consistent. Based on the 2018 BIBB / BAuA employee survey, the IW survey assessed the data of almost 18,000 employees in terms of job satisfaction, including 10% with recognized disabilities. Almost 91 percent of non-disabled workers said they were satisfied or very satisfied, while for disabled people the figure was 89 percent (Flüter-Hoffmann / Hammermann / Monsef, 2021 and Flüter-Hoffmann / Kurtenacker, 2022).

Inclusion success factors

Another IW study (Decker / Flüter-Hoffmann / Stettes, 2021), which assessed survey data from 1,283 disabled people, found that 41.1 percent of respondents required technical adjustments and 32.4 percent needed organizational adjustments related to their work . The study also found that workers for whom technical or organizational adjustments have already been made perceive the working atmosphere to be more supportive. In turn, the subjectively perceived supportive work atmosphere has an impact on the integration experience of people with disabilities in companies – people who subjectively perceive the work atmosphere as supportive feel better integrated with the company.

SMEs with subdued demand

Since January 2020, the Labor Market Research and Vocational Research Institute (IAB) has been studying in the framework of the project ‘Persons with severe disabilities in enterprises’ (project number 3759) why small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in particular still receive few training severe disabilities or employing. To this end, Hiesinger and Kubis (2022) analyzed data from 20,115 companies from the IAB employment survey in the fourth quarter of 2020. More than three-quarters of the surveyed companies from the SME size class (77%) stated that they could not find all suitable applicants (Hiesinger / Kubis, 2022, p. 6). It is also worth mentioning the result that almost 80 percent. The surveyed companies do not see any differences between non-disabled and non-disabled employees in terms of social integration. This may speak for successful integration.

Conclusions and perspectives

The analyzed research highlights the importance and benefits of need-based technical, organizational and personal support offers in companies. The results suggest that integration is effective when companies actively shape it and support their disabled workers according to their individual needs.

With the help of the “Employer Contact Points”, which have been set up in all 16 federal states from January 2022 on the basis of the Extended Act on Strengthening Participation (§ 185a SGB IX), the situation of SMEs in particular may soon improve: in the future you will be able to get information and advice from them from a single source – and very practice- and business-oriented (BIH, 2022). There, they not only learn how to train or employ people with (severe) disabilities, but also how to equip their workplaces according to their needs and create a work environment without barriers. Through these support measures, they can contribute to successful integration and increase job satisfaction for people with disabilities.

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