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Saying yes to disability confidence

Kate Balfour, of Balfour Cleaning, with Workbridge jobseeker Roydon Kells, who she has hired in her business.
Kate Balfour, of Balfour Cleaning, with Workbridge jobseeker Roydon Kells, who she has hired in her business.

Employers struggling to fill jobs and find good staff are being urged to Just Say Yes.

A nation-wide consultancy service has been launched to help businesses develop and maximise their diversity and inclusion plans, and make the most of a largely untapped but work-ready labour pool.

Just Say Yes is a new initiative supported by Workbridge, which has been helping disabled people and others facing barriers into employment for the past 90 years.

Beyond the slick new website – justsayyes.co.nz – are a consultancy service and hotline (0508 Say Yes – 0508 729 937) that offer advice and support for both employers and employees on disability and health issues in the workplace.

But it’s much more than that, says David Chapman, Workbridge’s National Employer Solutions Manager. There would be training for businesses, managers and their teams, as well as a bespoke consultation service, tailored plans to understand and maximise diversity and inclusion, and support through the process, including recruitment.

Workbridge employer guru David Chapman, the man behind Just Say Yes.
Workbridge employer guru David Chapman, the man behind Just Say Yes.

This would be delivered on a fee-for-service basis or as part of an annual membership.

“We give employers and employees the confidence to make their workplaces great places for disabled people and those with health conditions to work at,” said Chapman.

Workbridge chief executive Jonathan Mosen said it was a billion-dollar opportunity for businesses and the economy.

Workbridge chief executive Jonathan Mosen.
Workbridge chief executive Jonathan Mosen.

New Zealand is in the grip of a chronic skills and labour shortage.

Management academic Professor Jarrod Haar has described it as the tightest labour market in half a century.

“We know that smart employers are looking to make their workplaces inclusive to as wide a group of people as possible,” said Mosen.

And research has demonstrated that the economy is missing out on more than $1 billion in lost taxes alone by not hiring more disabled people and others with health conditions.

He said plenty of employers had had success when taking on Workbridge jobseekers, but too many remained unemployed, despite being work-ready. 

Just Say Yes would help grow the ‘disability confidence’ of those businesses yet to tap into that great resource.

“The vast majority of businesses don’t mean to exclude people, but they need honest answers to questions and concerns,” he said. 

“Just Say Yes offers practical, business-friendly advice to ensure businesses get great advice, and disabled people and those with a health condition or injury have more opportunity.

“We’re excited to be launching this initiative.”