Working Well-Being and Workplace Inclusion: An Exploratory Study Involving People with Disabilities

The reform of mandatory employment in Italy, performed by the national Law 68/99, represented a crucial step not only for the assertion of the right to work for people with disabilities, but also a cultural innovation in the matter of workplace inclusion. Is the Law sufficient to ensure this process? The literature on working inclusion of people with disabilities has focused mainly on accommodation as "technical measures" to be implemented in organizations, and has mainly investigated the point of view of employer and coworkers. Few studies have instead evidenced the importance of social factors in the inclusion process and has involved people with disabilities. The research presented was performed in the National Research Council (CNR), the major public research Agency in Italy. The aim of the study was to investigate how the employees with disabilities perceive their working well-being, identifying those factors that could promote or hinder the workplace inclusion. The study involved 21 employees with different types of disabilities, such as people visually impaired and blind, people with limited mobility and with difficulties in articulation of language, people with mental disease and cognitive delay. The 57% of participants were male and the 43% were female. The 52.4% was in the 41 to 50 age group, the 19% was in the 18 to 40 age group and the 28.6% was in the 51 to 60 or more age group. As research tools, we used a questionnaire focused on the dimensions of organizational well-being in the CNR and a semi-structured interview. The more critical factors highlighted from employees concern dimensions related to work environment, value, professional development and social usefulness. In particular, people expressed a feeling of worthlessness of their work, reporting stress conditions related to the impossibility of career advancement and to the lightweight workload. A source of stress is related indeed to the non-allocation of tasks or to an allocation of tasks judged below their capabilities. Therefore they perceive a sense of injustice and discrimination, they do not feel valued for their actual e and abilities. Some of them also refer to the lack of involvement in working group tasks and in decision making. These difficulties sometimes got worse because of the physical location of their offices, such as the work room of the blind telephone operators, labeled by colleagues as "office of the living dead". The workplace inclusion seems to be a rather complex process, in which organizational/managerial factors have an important role, as well as social and environmental ones.

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Contributo in atti di convegno
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International Conference on Sustainable Development 2014, Toronto, Canada, 7-8 agosto 2014
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Ritratto di Elisa Colì
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