Minority Research: Workplace Support

An exploration of social support as a factor in the return-to-work process.

Lysaght RM, Larmour-Trode S.  Queen’s University, School of Rehabilitation Therapy, Kingston, Ontario, Canada. lysaght@post.queensu.ca Work. 2008;30(3):255-66.

Despite evidence that inter-personal relationships are important in human resource management, little is understood about the nature of workplace social support in a disability context, or what features of support are important to the success of return-to-work programs. The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore workplace disability support from worker and supervisory perspectives and to identify salient features for work re-entry. A total of 8 supervisors and 18 previously injured workers from a range of work units in a Canadian municipality were interviewed, and their views concerning supportive and unsupportive behaviours in work-re-entry situations were recorded and analyzed. A full range of social support dimensions were reported to be relevant, and were seen as arising from a variety of sources (e.g. supervisor, co-workers, disability manager, work unit, and outside of work). Respondents identified trust, communication and knowledge of disability as key precursors to a successful return-to-work process. Future research should explore the specific contributions of support to work rehabilitation outcomes as well as interventions to enhance available supports.


People into employment:  supporting people with disabilities and carers into work.

Arksey H.  Social Policy Research Unit, University of York, York, UK. ha4@york.ac.uk  Health Soc Care Community. 2003 May;11(3):283-92.

Carers and people with disabilities are two disadvantaged groups at risk of social exclusion. Work is an important route to social inclusion, but carers and people with disabilities are under-represented in the work force. The present paper reports key findings from a new study that evaluated People into Employment (PIE), a pilot employment project in the north-east of England designed to support people with disabilities, carers and former carers in gaining mainstream work. The study aimed to identify what clients, partner agencies and employers perceived to be PIE’s most important services, its strengths and areas where there was scope for further development. The study collected quantitative and qualitative data at the mid-point and at the end of the project through two questionnaire surveys, and interviews with PIE clients, the project development officer, partner agencies and employers. Drawing on the ‘pathway model’, the findings show that PIE’s interventions included mobilising, matching, mediating and supporting activities. Key ingredients in PIE’s success include: tailor-made job-search activities and training; adjusting the pace at which people move towards sustained employment; recognising and responding to the differing needs of people with disabilities, carers and former carers; confidence boosting; accompanying clients to job interviews; good job matching; and ongoing practical and emotional support for both clients and employers. Rudimentary calculations suggest that the cost per job to the project is less than the cost per job for large national projects. Overall, these findings illustrate how access to employment via flexible job-search services geared up to the local labour market can successfully promote social inclusion for carers and people with disabilities.


A review of research on natural support interventions in the workplace for people with disabilities.

Storey K.  Chapman University, 2600 Stanwell Drive, Suite 110, Concord, CA 94520, USA. storey@chapman.edu  Int J Rehabil Res. 2003 Jun;26(2):79-84.

Natural supports for workers with disabilities involve using co-workers, supervisors and other supports intrinsic to the job setting to facilitate job skill acquisition, maintenance and integration. The purpose of this article is to review the empirical literature related to natural supports in the workplace for increasing integration and to offer guidelines for implementation. The sources used are case studies and empirical research. Conclusions are offered in terms of limitations of current research, needs for future research and the changing roles of supported employment services.


Vocteer:  a collaborative volunteer program for persons with severe psychiatric disabilities.

Carone SA, Burker EJ, Gardner M.  Department of Counseling, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, USA. scarone@iup.edu  Psychiatr Rehabil J. 2007 Fall;31(2):149-51.

Vocteer is a university and community support agency collaborative program that matches undergraduate and graduate students with persons diagnosed with severe psychiatric disabilities in community-based volunteer positions. The program aims to improve self-esteem, community inclusion, and vocational skills of program participants. In addition, Vocteer helps participants develop skills necessary for employment or independent volunteering. The program, reports of participant satisfaction, and findings are described. Reports from the literature are presented and provide support for further exploration and development of such programs.