Understanding, supporting and promoting neurodiversity in the workplace this Neurodiversity Celebration Week (March 15 – 21)
As someone that works in recruitment, I’ve seen first-hand that neurodiverse people can struggle to find a job. But this really shouldn’t be the case.
Because recruiting for neurodiversity in your workplace can be a great thing for your company.
What does neurodiversity mean?
Neurodiversity is a fancy word for brain diversity. It includes people with:
It’s estimated that 1 in 7 people in the UK are neurodivergent. Some might be high functioning and already excelling in your workplace, but some might struggle with standard training and working practices.
Neurodivergent people can be affected in all kinds of ways, from having issues with time management to struggles with communication.
It’s also always good to remember that neurodiversity is on a ‘spectrum’. So where you might hire one dyslexic person with a great ability to understand complex information, the next dyslexic person on the team might not have that ability.
You may be surprised to discover that people you’ve worked with for years are neurodivergent, many people are able to develop very effective strategies to manage workplace challenges and given enough freedom won’t need support or adjustments.
Your job applicants don’t have to tell you if they’re neurodivergent, so it’s best to be prepared for anything every time you hire!
The benefits of neurodiversity in the workplace
As we’re talking about Neurodiveristy Celebration Week, let’s celebrate!
Neurodivergent people can be excellent assets to your team. Just one neurodivergent thinker can help your team fix more problems and approach issues from different angles.
And one person thinking against the grain can be great for growth. They’ll open you up to a new audience of people – you can’t afford to miss out on 1 in 7 of the population!
In fact, there are so many reasons to celebrate neurodiversity. Creativity, innovation and problem-solving are just the tip of the iceberg.
Why we need to celebrate neurodiversity
Now even though there are many reasons why you should hire neurodivergent people, lots of companies haven’t considered how it should fit into their hiring plans or their work processes.
Managers often don’t take the time to understand neurodivergent employees, getting frustrated that the usual training methods aren’t working.
Neurodivergent employees can thrive when they’re given the right support. This usually comes in the form of software, like speech to text or time management programmes. Flexibility is important and workplaces that already embrace different working patterns and task autonomy will find it naturally easier to support neurodivergent employees.
If you’ve just spent the time and money to hire someone, spending some extra resources on supporting your new employee is a no brainer.
If your company is growing rapidly and you’ve hired a few neurodivergent employees, encouraging them to share their tips and tricks for work is a great idea. But it’s also really important that your managers and other team members are educated on the topic too.
We still live in an imperfect world when it comes to diversity and you may find that employees are reluctant to ask for support because of concerns of prejudice or misunderstanding. If you’ve taken the time to consider neurodiversity at work, make sure everyone knows about it and how they should start the conversation. The sooner and more openly any challenges can be discussed, the better the relationship will be.
The last thing you need is issues in your team that can be easily avoided with a little understanding and communication.