Top Tips to Support Neurodiversity in the Workplace
We have previously discussed how organizations can adapt their hiring processes to support neurodivergent candidates here. However, you might be thinking what now? How do I support my neurodivergent talent once they’re hired? Well, we’ve put together a few tips so you can best support neurodiversity in your workplace. These could benefit both your organization and your neurodivergent workers.
Accommodate their needs
Not all neurodivergent people have the same barriers. This is why it’s so important to understand the person, not just their condition. One person with ADHD could have the complete opposite barriers to another. Hence why it’s crucial to be accommodating to the individual’s needs. For example, if a worker on the autistic spectrum struggles with the noise in the office, it would be beneficial to allow them to use noise-canceling headphones. Alternatively, some neurodivergent workers may be more sensitive to noise, bright lights, and overstimulating environments. So it’s vital to keep this in mind and discuss it with your neurodivergent candidates during the interview process.
Creating available accommodations could be beneficial, and help neurodivergent workers work more efficiently.
Neurotypical people often take the environments we feel most comfortable in for granted. It’s easy for us to adapt to working environments. However, this isn’t always the case for neurodivergent people who could really struggle in a setting where their barriers are at play. This is why the accommodation of a neurodivergent worker’s needs is vital when trying to support programs in your workplace.
Communication is key – people always say. This is most definitely the case in working environments. Firstly, there is communication in the sense of portraying what you can do to best support neurodiversity in the workplace. In relation to this, talking about your communication and learning styles in the workplace could provide a huge benefit to your neurodivergent workers. This is the case because if you can identify how your worker can work in the most efficient way, then you can work around this and find ways to support them. Secondly, it’s important to teach your neurotypical employees that some neurodivergent colleagues may struggle with social cues. For example, someone on the autistic spectrum may struggle with understanding sarcasm. idioms, and euphemisms. Additionally, because of this, it would be beneficial to provide concise verbal communication when discussing tasks the neurodivergent worker will have to complete.
One thing that we are seeing more of is setting a target for an organization’s neurodiverse workforce. For example, setting aside 5% of jobs for neurodivergent candidates. This is something I believe would have a positive impact, as then neurodivergent candidates do not have to compete with neurotypical candidates for a role. Instead, the focus is more on the skills they can bring and knowing they will receive the support they desire. The benefits this could provide for organizations are high. According to Harvard Business Review, neurodivergent people often have higher than average abilities. HBR claims that some neurodiverse conditions (such as autism and dyslexia), can display skills in pattern recognition, memory, or mathematics. So why wouldn’t you take advantage of this and try to hire more neurodivergent candidates? Your organization could massively reap the rewards.
This is crucial. Not one neurodivergent person is the same as another, so it’s important to work around that. With people slowly transitioning back to office life, it’s allowed organizations to rethink the working culture and how flexible their workforce really is. Before COVID-19, working at the office was the norm, but hybrid working has become more common since then. As some neurodivergent people may struggle with sensory issues, it’s beneficial to allow them to be flexible with their work. For example, it may be beneficial for them to work at home fully, to prevent the distractions or barriers that may arise in the office. Additionally, someone with ADHD could benefit from taking more frequent breaks than a neurotypical person, as they could get distracted more easily. Identifying ways to improve workforce flexibility is so helpful to neurodivergent workers, allowing them to work more efficiently.
It’s important to remember that constructing a supportive and nurturing neurodiversity workforce agenda takes time, patience, and effort. Current workplace norms will need to be adapted to better support your neurodivergent employees. Nevertheless, we would encourage you to persevere, as it is an agenda that will ultimately benefit your organization by bringing you access to the talents of this very unique and gifted community.