Neurodiversity and Neurodivergent Workers

Neurodiversity and Neurodivergent

It’s ADHD Awareness Month! At least 10 percent of the UK population is neurodivergent, which is around 6,680,000 people. Amongst employers, the term Neurodiversity refers to alternative thinking styles. Neurodiverse conditions include dyslexia, autism, ADHD and dyspraxia.

Having neurodiverse employees in a company can be difficult. But, it can be a huge advantage when coming up with new ideas, as they literally think differently. In this Wurkplace blog we’ll explore what neurodiversity is, and why you as an employer should embrace it.

What Is The Neurodivergent Spectrum?

Most people use a spectrum to explain variety of characteristics that individuals with neurodivergent conditions may express. It’s important not to stereotype and be aware of the common traits of neurodivergent conditions such as ADD, Autism and Dyspraxia. Each can present its own difficulties and strengths:

  • Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD): affects an individual’s ability to focus for long periods of time. Other symptoms such as hyperactivity may be shared with other attention deficit disorders like Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
  • Autism: Individuals with autistim (as well as Asperger’s Syndrome) may have difficulty “reading” other people and socializing.
  • Dyspraxia (Developmental Coordination Disorder): this influences physical coordination and organization.

Are Neurological Conditions A Disability?

Whilst many people would argue that their neurodivergence doesn’t prevent them from living their lives, this is not the case for everyone, and neurodiverse conditions are often classed as disabilities for the purposes of the Equality Act.

According to the Equality Act 2010, a disability is classed as ‘a physical or mental impairment’. To qualify, this impairment must have a substantial adverse effect on a person’s ability to perform day-to-day tasks. To better understand these conditions and support neurodivergent members of staff, we advise you conduct training. Wurkplace offer a range of sensitivity and awareness training options for staff and management.

What Are The Benefits Of Neurodiversity?

  • To Encourage a Cohesive Workforce: Creating a supportive workplace will reduce the stress and stigma that neurodivergent employees may feel upon joining a company. Employers can educate the wider workforce about how to help break down stigmas associated with neurodiversity.
  • To Introduce New Skills: It is estimated that talent shortages are currently at their lowest since 2007, and many companies are looking beyond traditional talent pools in their hiring processes. Neurodivergent individuals can provide a new perspective, help to grow your business and develop systems & processes in new and innovative ways.
  • It’s Attractive: Studies show that 2/3 of Millennials consider a company’s social commitments when job seeking. What’s more, 64% only want to work for an employer with a strong social corporate responsibility policy.
  • Neurodivergent Customers Will Appreciate it: An organization aware of neurodivergence will communicate better with, and offer better service to, customers on the spectrum.
  • Low-Cost Workplace Adjustments: Employers should make reasonable adjustments to the workplace for neurodivergent individuals, whether it be allocating extra time in recruitment assessments or giving people a desk by a window. The price of providing simple items like noise-cancelling headphones, dimmer lighting, and speech-to-text apps is relatively low.

Ways Employers Can Support Neurodivergent Employees

  1. Adopt More Inclusive Hiring Practices: Actively making adjustments to the recruitment process to allow neurodivergent individuals to perform well, as a traditional interview might not always be appropriate. For example, Autistic people often avoid eye contact, take conversational tangents, and can be overly honest about their weaknesses. To assess neurodiverse talent effectively, try swapping interviews for more laid-back gatherings. This allows candidates to demonstrate abilities in casual interactions with managers.
  2. Play To Employee’s Strengths: As previously mentioned, neurodivergent employees will have different strengths to other staff members. As an employer you need to find ways to apply these strengths. Also try and praise neurodivergent employees who may have low self-esteem.
  3. Be Present In Your Company’s Inclusivity: share awareness of neurodiversity when appropriate, at company meetings, or blog posts. Maybe even pair with a government or nonprofit organization to help you to navigate employment regulations, source neurodiverse talent, and mentor new employees. As an employer, showing that you’re embracing neurodivergence is very important. It can bring extra creativity and different perspectives and expertise to your organization.

Do you have any questions about working with Neurodivergent Employees? Are any of your employees struggling? Do you need advice on how to support staff? Contact us for support and guidance via our online form or give us a call on: 0330 400 5490.

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