5 Advantages of Engaging with Deaf Employees in Banking

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5 Advantages of Engaging with Deaf Employees in Banking

In this article we will explore 5 advantages of engaging with your deaf employees, specifically in Banking and financial institutions.

We will start by looking at how you can empower your teams to disclose a disability, the benefits of deaf employees working in the branch, and then discuss how this can improve your internal communications, gain an understanding of deaf customers and build an inclusive team.

You may believe that you do not have any deaf employees, as if you did, you would know about it right?!

Well, not necessarily. 

  • Deafness is a hidden disability, so unless someone is wearing a hearing aid or using sign language, it is very difficult to spot.
  • 2 million people in the UK wear hearing aids, and 6.7 million could benefit from wearing them.
  • 54% of employees with a hearing loss are reluctant to tell their employer, so you will have colleagues who experience a hearing loss but have never disclosed this.
  • 1 in 12 people in your workforce is either deaf or has a hearing loss, so let’s find out five benefits of engaging with your deaf employees.
 

1. Disclosing Deafness

For you to put measures in place, you first need to know who your deaf employees are.
Step 4 will show you how this benefits your business in relation to providing an inclusive service for your customers.

You will need to understand who in your current workforce is deaf or has a hearing loss and build disclosure opportunities into your recruitment process and employee experience.

The first step is to use employee surveys internally and/or engage directly with individual team members through your supervision/1:1 process.

Here are some example questions you can use with your teams:

How can we make your working life at YOUR COMPANY NAME the best it can be?

Is there anything we can do/put in place to help you at work?

You will see in these questions, that we are not asking directly if someone has a disability, instead we are asking about their experience in the workplace.

The next step will be for you to identify the different touchpoints in the employee journey/s and incorporate similar questions, as well as looking closely at how this can be included in your recruitment process.

This is offering your teams multiple opportunities to start a conversation with you.

 

2. Working in branch

By employing deaf people, you are creating a more diverse workforce made up of a range of individuals who see the world differently.

This offers you a superpower when it comes to problem solving as deaf people bring unique and valuable perspectives.

It also means that you have team members who reflect the diversity of your customers, making customers feel more understood.

A deaf colleague will have a much better understanding of the needs of the 12 million deaf people in the UK when accessing banking.

This experience will benefit deaf customers, and colleagues who can learn from this expertise.

If you are interested in attracting more deaf talent into your business, you can:

  • State on job adverts that you are an inclusive employer
  • Share the icon for the Disability Confident Scheme if you are signed up. Include this on both the job advert, your website and recruitment pages
  • Advertise roles on deaf job sites so that you are welcoming deaf people to apply
 

3. Accessible internal communications

British Sign Language (BSL) is the language used by 150,000 deaf people in the UK as their first or preferred language.

BSL’s grammatical structure varies from English.

Here is an example of the language structure:

English:  What is your name? 

BSL: YOUR – NAME – WHAT?

Due to the English language structure, for some deaf BSL users this can make it challenging for them to understand. Therefore, having information in Plain English can be helpful. 

Plain English means using headings, bullet points and keeping sentences short.

You can use Plain English for your internal communications, processes, policies and even in the way that you speak with customers.

We appreciate that within the financial sector, some text needs to remain in fixed language, but what if you produced Plain English guides to explain these documents? 

Creating text this way makes it much more accessible for a wide range of people, not just deaf people.

4. Gain insights into the Deaf
Customer Experience.

Engaging with your deaf employees is a real benefit for your business.  You can gain valuable insights into what deaf customers want from Banking and what challenges they face.

You can engage through existing structures within the business, whether that be internal staff forums or employee working groups.

Deaf employees will also be able to share how to engage with and market your services to the deaf community and make your content accessible for the 12 million deaf people in the UK.

Here are some questions you could ask:

How could we make our employee experience better for deaf employees?

What are deaf customers looking for from a Bank?

What about our contact centre, is this easily accessible?

How accessible is our Banking app?

So, seek the experience of deaf colleagues when designing products, offerings, and customer journeys and see the benefits this can bring to your business.

5. An Inclusive Team

To create an effective and cohesive team, it really helps if colleagues understand each other’s needs.

This is where Deaf Awareness Training comes in.

The biggest barrier that deaf people face is access to communication.

Imagine turning up to the office, and a group of your colleagues are talking across their desk and smiling and laughing.  It would be very isolating if you had no idea what they are talking about.

This is the experience that deaf people face every day.

Deaf Awareness Training is the perfect solution to give your teams confidence in communicating with deaf colleagues and deaf customers.

 

Where we have seen this work

The team at Legal and General were looking to gain a better understanding of their deaf customer journey and ensure that deaf employees were supporting in the workplace.

WHY:

To improve the deaf customer and deaf employee experience.

 

WHAT:

Review of their existing deaf customer and employee experience and identification of key areas of improvement along with detailed instructions on how to make these improvements.

OUTCOME:

Employee is now within a suitable role and feels well supported by the business.  Internal awareness and advocacy of the needs of employees who are deaf or have a hearing loss.

We’ve made improvements to our IVR system. We’ve also amended out core scripts and added more questions to capture any vulnerability at the start of the customer’s journey. Because what we recognised, and appreciated, was that the audit wasn’t only useful for our deaf customers: it made us more aware of other vulnerabilities too. The terptree team was  so knowledgeable about this, which was very helpful. As a result of the audit, we have also updated our Vulnerability Training for our teams. For example, using triggers such as: what would our team do and how would they react when hearing a verbal trigger identifying a customer was deaf?

terptree has allowed us to improve the service we offer to our vulnerable customers massively. We’ve seen how everyone now feels included and wants to play an active part getting it right for our vulnerable customers.

Elizabeth Elphick, Customer Outcomes manager, Legal and General 

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