How employers can build and support neurodiversity
In this article, Senior HR Consultant, Claire McGuinness discusses how employers can build and support neurodiversity within the workplace.
What is neurodiversity?
The term neurodiversity refers to the way that everyone’s brains naturally work differently from one another. Just as you may be born right-handed, or have green eyes, how your brain works and where you sit on the cognitive spectrum will be unique to you. Most people are neurotypical or ‘not neurodivergent’. This means they think and behave in a way that is similar to most other people. But around one in seven people are neurodivergent. This means they behave, think, process, and interpret information in ways that differ from most other people.
Traditional working practises are often designed with a neurotypical society in mind. This can make it difficult for neurodivergent employees to thrive at work, as a traditional environment can be more challenging or uncomfortable. However, our society’s understanding of neurodiversity is evolving. We are beginning to recognise how it can appear differently in adults, particularly for traditionally underrepresented groups.
Ways to support neurodiversity
Employers can support, embrace, and accommodate these differences, allowing neurodivergent individuals to thrive and contribute their unique perspectives to the workplace. Here are some ways employers can support neurodiversity:
- Employers can educate themselves and their workforce about neurodiversity. Learn about the different neurological conditions that fall under the neurodivergent umbrella, such as autism, ADHD, dyslexia, and Tourette’s syndrome. Educate employees on how these conditions affect individuals and how they can be accommodated. By sharing this knowledge, employers can help to break down stigma and misconceptions.
- Encourage neurodivergent individuals to embrace their differences. Society often views neurodivergent individuals as “broken” or “less than,” which can lead to feelings of shame or inadequacy. Encourage neurodivergent individuals to embrace their unique perspectives and talents, and to recognise that their differences are a valuable part of who they are.
- Provide reasonable adjustments – adjustments can include things like extra time on projects, quiet workspaces, or flexible working. These adjustments can help neurodivergent individuals to succeed in professional settings.
- Create and encourage an inclusive workforce. Work to create colleagues that welcome and celebrate neurodivergent individuals. This can include creating social events that are sensory-friendly, creating mentorship programs, and encouraging neurodivergent individuals to take on leadership roles.
By embracing neurodiversity, employers can help create an environment that is more accepting, inclusive, and diverse. Supporting neurodivergent individuals is not only the right thing to do, but it also benefits everyone by allowing us to tap into the unique perspectives and talents that neurodivergent individuals bring to the table.
Training for employers
Here are 10 top ideas for neurodiversity training for employers:
- Introduction to Neurodiversity: Provide an overview of what neurodiversity is and the different types of neurodivergent conditions, such as Autism Spectrum Disorder, ADHD, Dyslexia, and Tourette’s Syndrome.
- Understanding reasonable adjustments: Help managers understand the adjustments that neurodivergent employees may need. As well as the ones mentioned above, noise-cancelling headphones, or adjustments to lighting can be a small but effective tool.
- Communication Strategies: Provide strategies for effective communication with neurodivergent employees. This can include clear and concise instructions, breaking down tasks into smaller steps, and using visual aids when possible.
- Sensory Issues: Discuss common sensory issues that neurodivergent individuals may experience and provide strategies for managing them in the workplace.
- Recruitment and Retention: Discuss best practices for recruiting and retaining neurodivergent employees. This could include creating an inclusive work environment, providing opportunities for growth and development, and avoiding bias in the hiring process.
- Peer Support: Provide training for neurotypical employees to become allies and supporters of their neurodivergent colleagues, such as how to offer assistance and communicate effectively.
- Positive Examples: Highlight successful neurodivergent individuals and their contributions to the workplace, therefore dispelling myths and stereotypes that may exist.
- Feedback and Support: Create a feedback and support system that allows employees to provide input and receive feedback on how well the company is implementing neurodiversity initiatives.
- Continual Improvement: Continually evaluate and improve neurodiversity initiatives, including ongoing training and support for employees.
- Implement policies that support neurodiversity. Most employers are likely to have policies relating to equal opportunities and workplace diversity. However, by introducing a standalone neuro-inclusion policy, which provides an understanding of neurodiverse conditions and how they should be approached at work by colleagues and managers, it will help remove ignorance and allow for greater compassion and care.
By providing neurodiversity training, employers can create a more inclusive and welcoming workplace for all employees, regardless of their neurodivergent status.
Join us at our upcoming peopleHUB webinar about neurodiversity on Wednesday 10th May, 9:15 am – 10 am via Zoom. We will be discussing how employers can support neurodivergent staff within the workplace and remove the barriers that a traditional working environment may have. If you would like to attend this webinar, please register via Zoom here. It is free to attend.
To find out more information or if you require any advice about supporting neurodiversity within your workplace, get in contact with our team of experts.
T: 0330 107 1037