"Like living in goldfish bowl,” was how Chris Hudson and Bob Warner of Remploy described attempts to overhaul the business model and integrate more disabled workers into mainstream employment.
For the past 60 years Remploy has placed 95% of disabled workers in its own factories but this was costing money.
Bob said: "The loss per disabled employer was 20k per year, whereas the cost of placing them in mainstream employment is 5k.”
But there were considerable challenges, not least from within the organisation where previous attempts to change working practices had met with resistance and even resulted in candlelit protests from Remploy employees outside the House of Commons back in 1999.
Remploy’s strategy was to first guarantee no compulsory redundancies and then manage the process of change internally. This involved bringing project managers up to speed and breaking the complex nature of project into manageable parts.
The result is a fourfold increase in numbers of disabled workers in mainstream employment and a further 20,000 expected to enter into jobs over the next five years.
“One of the lessons learnt,” said Bob, “was that the active management of project complexity leads to acceptable levels of project risk.”