How supporting the neurodiverse will enhance your workplace.

Posted: 26th April 2024

Source: (18) How supporting the neurodiverse will enhance your workplace. | LinkedIn

One of my favourite podcasts is Grace Dent’s excellent Comfort Eating. In a recent episode, Grace interviewed Platinum-selling singer-songwriter Cat Burns, who has been diagnosed with ADHD and autism. Describing her need for order, predictability and calm made me think about how the adjustments employers should be making to support neurodiversity would significantly benefit the entire workforce.

Whilst I cannot write from personal experience, I am the mother of a dyspraxic and dyscalculic daughter, aunt to an autistic nephew, and have been involved with other neurodiverse (ND) young people. I’ve witnessed first-hand the challenges they face.

§  Imagine needing order, clarity and consistency and then being met with confusing communication, unclear boundaries and constant to-ing and fro-ing around decision making.

§  Imagine the joy of discovering that a public sector organisation is running a specific recruitment scheme for the ND, only to be met with bullying and intolerance from colleagues when you excitedly start work.

§  Imagine checking carefully throughout the recruitment process that maths won’t be a requirement of the job and then your line manager insisting you cash up at the end of the day.

Stuff like this happens. All too often.

Neurodiversity and employment

It’s estimated that 15%-20% of the UK population are neurodiverse (ND), yet government statistics say that between 30% and 40% are unemployed. That’s three times that of disabled people and eight times that of the rest of the population. Yet employers are missing so many opportunities.

Diverse perspectives can benefit the organisation in so many ways. For example, depending on their condition, the neurodiverse are often:

§  Innovative and creative

§  Great at problem solving

§  Free thinkers

§  Experts in a particular field

§  Technically adept

§  Able to recall detailed facts and knowledge

§  Able to focus on meticulous work

§  Able to complete routine tasks

§  Tolerant of repetitive work

§  Able to focus and concentrate

§  Reliable and punctual

§  Able to find the anomalies and errors

§  Great at delivering to target

§  Compliant, resilient and able to persevere against all odds.

I could go on and of course, each person is different. Perhaps there’s a little neurodiversity in all of us. Of the diagnosed ND people I know well, two are now actors, one works in a detailed admin role (and is at least twice as accurate in half the time), one is completing a PHD with a view to becoming a full-time researcher and saving the planet, and and another is making waves in the tech world. All are making incredible contributions within their chosen fields.

How to support the neurodiverse at work

Taking advice from experts in this field and from my own, admittedly limited, experience, here are Hendrick & Hyde’s top 10 recommendations for employers:

1.     Increase your own awareness of this complex subject and understand the benefits of diversity in all its forms.

2.     Before you actively recruit the neurodiverse, make sure everyone within your organisation understands how to support them and that the resources are available to do this.

3.     Create an environment where all people are encouraged to be themselves and to discuss their differences.

4.     Actively make kindness, respect and empathy a norm.

5.     Encourage everyone to challenge stigma and stereotyping.

6.     Pay time and attention to working on the team dynamic so people can value and understand what each of them can bring and how best to work together.

7.     Communicate clearly, regularly and consistently using a variety of methods.

8.     Make consultation and collaboration a norm.

9.     Put regular dialogue and review mechanisms in place.

10.  Manage change with care.

There’s a lot here and perhaps you’d have more to add – please comment if you do. I’d argue that all the above are must haves for any good employer, so better start working on analysing the gaps in your organisation and addressing them now…

Categories: News