6 Benefits of Employees Disclosing Additional Learning Needs

By Oliver Hill

This article is part of our buildup to our National Apprenticeship Week Event in partnership with Westminster County Council: Advancing Workplace Diversity with SEND Support Strategies. This event is on the 8th of February. You can find out more about this event here.

The workforce of the United Kingdom is a melting pot of diverse experiences, backgrounds, and needs. It's a treasure trove of unique talents and attributes which, when nurtured appropriately, can significantly boost an organisation's success.

Among these unique attributes are the additional learning needs and disabilities that some employees will have. Whilst some might have previously viewed these attributes as obstacles for an organisation, forward-thinking organisations recognise them as opportunities to create an inclusive, accommodating, and successful workplace.

At Dynamic Training, this is something we have experienced both internally and when providing inclusive learning. It is especially important that, when an organisation looks to develop their staff, there is a process which cares about getting the best out of every learner. We have always cared deeply about creating a learning experience that is inclusive and supports learners to achieve their very best.

As a result of our approach, understanding the needs of every individual learner can significantly help us unlock their potential. Having worked with many organisations who share this mindset, we can recommend many ways we  can all benefit - as individuals and as organisations - from an open, honest and positive policy towards inclusive practices.

Here are just six of the profound benefits that we have found from our own experience of employees disclosing their additional learning needs to inclusive and forward-thinking organisations.


1: Unlocking Maximum Potential Through Reasonable Adjustments

Every employee is unique, and so are their needs. By encouraging and receiving disclosure of additional learning needs or disabilities from their employees, organisations can tailor-fit their practices to these requirements by making reasonable adjustments.

This is not merely about levelling the playing field, however. It's about setting up an environment where employees can thrive, showcasing their unique skills and talents to the fullest.

Just one example of this involves an employee with dyslexia, who might benefit from screen-reading software during work, including learning new skills. With this simple adjustment, they can digest written information faster, contribute more effectively to discussions, and ultimately be feel and be a more valuable member of the team.

Workplace Example: An organisation employs Maya, a talented member of the team with autism. Initially, the open-plan working environment overwhelms Maya due to sensory overload, affecting her focus, productivity and happiness. Maya discloses these difficulties to the organisation, who provide her with noise-cancelling headphones and a quiet workspace.

Ripple Effect: This reasonable adjustment not only benefits Maya, but also other employees. The headphones become popular among staff seeking focus in a bustling environment. The introduction of quiet zones helps all team members needing a break or concentrated work time. As a result, productivity increases. Meanwhile, the entire team becomes more aware of creating focused and adaptable work environments, boosting overall productivity and innovation.


2: Enhancing Performance Across the Board

When reasonable adjustments are provided for an individual, it doesn't just benefit them. The ripple effect is felt throughout the organisation. This is especially true when inclusive practices are adopted across the organisation and all employees.

Tailored support tools or strategies can enhance an employee's ability to collaborate, innovate, and produce results, leading to a more productive and harmonious workplace. The upswing in performance is a win-win for both the employee and the employer.


3: Fostering Employee Loyalty and Reducing Turnover

Recognising and addressing the individual needs of employees sends a strong signal to everyone within the organisation : "We care about you."

Such a message can only encourage employees develop a sense of loyalty and belonging within the organisation, feeling valued and motivated in their role. In a world where job-hopping has become the norm, creating a supportive and accommodating environment can be a game-changer for retention.

After all, why would someone want to leave a workplace where they feel genuinely valued and understood? The result is a tangible reduction in the expensive and disruptive process of staff turnover.


4: Crafting a Truly Inclusive Culture

Every organisation has its own culture which it creates, consciously or unconsciously, every single day by its policies and behaviours. What culture exists within an organisation says a lot about us, as individuals and as a workforce.

Inclusion is more than just a buzzword; it's a mindset. Encouraging the disclosure of additional learning needs or disabilities reinforces the message that every individual, irrespective of their challenges or differences, is a valuable part of the team. It drives home the point that diversity is not just about ethnic or gender variations but also encompasses the myriad ways our brains and bodies function. Such a culture naturally supports the organisation's Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) values and behaviours.


5: Staying on the Right Side of the Law

Beyond the ethical and moral dimensions, there's a legal angle to consider. Many jurisdictions mandate that employers make reasonable adjustments for employees with disabilities or additional learning needs. By promoting disclosure, organisations can stay compliant, avoiding potential legal pitfalls and promoting a culture of fairness.


6: Lived Experiences: The Silent Educators

A final, often overlooked, benefit is the richness of lived experiences that employees with additional learning needs bring to the table. Employees will each have their own experiences, both positive and negative, from which an organisation can draw inspiration and ideas.

Their daily challenges, strategies, and perspectives offer fresh, unique viewpoints that can be invaluable in problem-solving, ideation, and fostering empathy in the workplace. As a result, such an approach brings about change, and opportunities for reflection and innovation. 


In Conclusion

Whilst the initial impulse might be to view additional learning needs or disabilities through a lens of concern, the reality is that they open up a world of possibilities for both the employee and the organisation as a whole.

By actively encouraging disclosure and providing tailored reasonable adjustments, companies can unlock a treasure trove of benefits, ranging from enhanced performance to genuine inclusivity. In today's competitive business landscape, organisations that embrace this approach will find themselves not just keeping pace but leading the way.

Accessible Apprenticeships and Inclusive Training Courses are a particularly great way of ensuring that, when training staff, learner support is not just an overall process but an individual model aimed at getting the best out of every individual.


If you enjoyed this article, you will also be interested in our upcoming National Apprenticeship Week Event in Westminster, London: Advancing Workplace Diversity with SEND Support Strategies. This event is on the 8th of February. You can find out more about this event here.

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Published by: Oliver Hill

Job Title: Head of Apprenticeships and Commercial

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