• Wellbeing

Neurodiversity In The Workplace

  • By: paralleladmin
  • Posted on: 2nd July 2024

Raina Dhillon
Health & Wellbeing Expert

Each person is unique, with their own traits and ways of doing things. However, some people’s brains function differently, presenting them with unique challenges and opportunities. This is known as neurodivergence. Neurodivergence includes a range of conditions including Attention Deficit Disorders, Autism, Dyslexia, Tourettes and Dyspraxia. The National Autistic Society reports that there are at least 700,000 autistic adults in the UK of which only 15% are in employment. This blog sets out to determine what we as employers and leaders can be doing to support more neurodivergent colleagues in the workplace.

In my research I found turning to the experts the most beneficial – rather than googling. At the end of this blog I’ve credited and referenced some handy guides that I think you’ll find useful if looking for guides to share and circulate within your organisation.

If you are reading this then it is evident that you seek guidance or assurance that you are supporting your neurodivergent colleagues, however it is important to note that some people prefer not to be
referred to as neurodivergent or neurotypical. So, it’s important that you discuss this with the individual.

Neurodivergent employees literally think differently from neurotypical individuals, leading them to approach situations in unique and invaluable ways. Their ability to think unconventionally often translates into exceptional skills in areas such as spotting patterns and trends, thinking creatively, analysing data and processing information quickly.

If everyone were the same, we’d all make identical decisions and reach the same conclusions, which isn’t beneficial for business. Having individuals in your workforce who think differently challenges the status quo and can enhance overall performance, potentially uncovering new opportunities. However, many workplaces are tailored to neurotypical individuals, from the physical environment to management practices and hiring processes. As a result, neurodivergent people often find these aspects more difficult and stressful to navigate.

When we recognise neurodiversity in the workplace it allows us to better understand our employees’ needs and leverage their strengths to benefit our businesses. Focusing on what people can do, rather than what they can’t, makes it easier to maximise their potential.

So what can we do to help? I looked at a vast amount of online guides and it is important to note that this is just a guide, it is essential that you work with your neurodiverse colleagues, not make assumptions.

  • Offer Flexible Work Arrangements: flexible hours and remote work options to accommodate different work styles and needs can make for a more accessible place to work.
  • Quiet Spaces: create quiet areas or private workspaces to reduce sensory overload and allow for focused work.
  • Clear Communication: use clear and concise language in all communications. Provide written instructions and visual aids when possible to all employees.
  • Inclusive Training: provide training for all employees on neurodiversity to enhance understanding and promote inclusivity in the workplace.
  • Personalised Support: offer personalised support and accommodations, such as noise-cancelling headphones, ergonomic tools, or software that aids in organisation of tasks.
  • Structured Environment: maintain a structured and predictable work environment with clear expectations and routines – this includes structured breaks and expectations on working hours.
  • Strength-Based Assignments: assign tasks based on employees’ strengths and interests to maximise their productivity and job satisfaction.
  • Feedback Mechanisms: implement regular feedback mechanisms that are specific, constructive, and focused on growth.
  • Diverse Hiring Practices: Adapt hiring processes to be more inclusive, such as providing alternatives to traditional interviews and offering work trials or job simulations.
  • Support Networks: Establish employee resource groups or support networks where neurodivergent employees can share experiences and advice.

I hope you have found this useful and I do encourage you to continue reading and learning. If you’re all read up and not sure what to do next, having a training programme in the workplace that emphasises the importance of an inclusive workplace environment and sharing resources is a great start. Adapting hiring practices and establishing support networks ensures that neurodivergent employees feel valued and supported. By focusing on these strategies, businesses can leverage the unique strengths of neurodivergent individuals, driving innovation and success.

More reading and join the conversation:

For more information on how we can support you with your staff Health & Wellbeing benefits contact malcolm.lyons@parallel-eb.co.uk // 020 8874 1230