Utilizing Disabled Reserves has Surprising Benefits

Analysis

The Prohuman Opportunity-creating Call Coordination Center has 63 workers with disabilities.

More active employment of disabled people could open up an alternative worker reserve of several thousand in Hungary, a country with a famously tight labor market, as a leading HR service provider is discovering for itself.

The employment level of people with disabilities and health impairments has increased significantly in Hungary over the past few years but is still below the EU average.

In 1992, the United Nations declared December 3 the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. Perhaps as a result, there is more talk every year about the challenges that people with disabilities face in everyday life.

Less well known, however, are the benefits that the employment of people with disabilities can bring not only to them but also to their employers and society as a whole.

As one of the country’s market-leading HR service providers, Prohuman has been paying particular attention to providing work opportunities for people with disabilities for years. It also practices what it preaches: the company’s service center in Miskolc is staffed exclusively by employees with disabilities.

According to Prohuman experts, given Hungary’s acute labor shortage, it would be worthwhile for as many companies as possible to think about how they could involve people with “altered working abilities” in their workforce.

“Even if it is not a [full] solution, the inclusion and employment of people with altered workability can definitely provide a reserve in the Hungarian labor market,” says Béla Ignácz, managing director at the Prohuman HR service provider.

“According to our experience, in many cases companies do not move in this direction simply because they fear that they would have to meet requirements that they could not fulfill,” he acknowledges.

Béla Ignácz

Valuable and Effective

“However, with just a little care, it can be easily solved in most cases so that a colleague living with a disability or health impairment can become a valuable and effective member of a team or company,” Ignácz adds.

The specialist added that in Prohuman’s modern service center in Miskolc, whose official name is the Esélyteremtő Híváskoordinációs Központ (or Opportunity-creating Call Coordination Center), 63 workers with disabilities are currently helping the company and its customers.

The center is still happy to receive applications from any disabled or health-impaired people who have at least secondary school education, computer knowledge, and good communication skills.

In the last 10 years or so, the proportion of people with disabilities who work in Hungary has increased from 18% to 44%. This form of employment is, clearly, becoming more widespread in Hungary, but it still falls short of the EU average of 50%.

According to the statistics, roughly 150,000 people with disabilities work in Hungary, but this number can be increased further by studying, adopting good practices, and developing a supportive environment.

“Our colleagues primarily deal with handling incoming calls, recruitment, data reconciliation and related administrative work, and they contribute greatly to the fact that we can serve our customers in the region without interruption,” explains Rita Lelovics, the rehabilitation mentor at the center.

“We provide flexibility for everyone to work four, six, seven or eight hours, according to their possibilities, and even remotely,” she says.

Value-creating Work

“There is a significant shortage of office and administrative workers in Northern Hungary. We believe that the example of our center in Miskolc shows that even people who start from disadvantaged backgrounds are capable of doing value-creating work, and their involvement could also help alleviate the labor shortage. That is why our short-term plans include increasing or even doubling the number of employees,” Lelovics adds.

That is a sentiment Ignácz is clearly in agreement with.

“The employment of people with altered work ability has a huge impact not only on their lives, but also on their direct colleagues and the employing organizations themselves,” he explains.

“It is a common experience that, where people with disabilities work in a team, a more inclusive workplace atmosphere develops and it makes employees more open in all areas of life,” Ignácz highlights.

“As a result, togetherness and team unity are strengthened, which has a positive effect on the loyalty of employees and thus can reduce turnover; but, in many cases, it also has a beneficial effect on productivity,” he says, pointing to further company-wide benefits.

The workspace of Prohuman’s call center in Miskolc has been designed to meet the more specialized needs of its users. In the case of furniture, for example, devices are available that reduce physical strain as much as possible. Among other things, height-adjustable work tables and waist and leg supports help meet special ergonomic needs.

The number of employees in the office has increased from the initial 30 to a little more than 60 in roughly one year. Prohuman says it has plans to increase that further in 2023.

This article was first published in the Budapest Business Journal print issue of April 21, 2023.

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