An estimated one in seven people in the UK are neurodivergent in some way. That works out to about 14 per cent of the population - and potentially a large amount of your workforce.
In an age where equality, diversity and inclusion are at the heart of many businesses’ practices, it’s really important that neurodivergent employees are treated fairly and given the right support at work.
As we’ll see, creating an environment where neurodivergent people can thrive could have huge benefits for you, your business and your clients.
What is neurodiversity?
Neurodiversity refers to the different ways in which a person’s brain processes information.
It’s an umbrella term that covers many types of neurodiversity, such as:
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
Neurodivergent people are an asset to your business
Many people who are neurodivergent are incredibly intelligent and boast higher than average abilities.
So it goes without saying that they could be a massive asset to your business, as they have very real and tangible skills that you can harness.
- An excellent memory
- The ability to recognise patterns
- An aptitude for mathematics
- An ability to solve problems
At the same time, people with some form of neurodiversity can be highly focused when they approach a task, come up with new ways of doing things and have different viewpoints and perspectives.
That means they’re the perfect people to have in your team if you want to avoid groupthink, innovate and move with the times.
Valuing and celebrating people’s differences lets you make the most of their skills and capabilities, and give them roles and responsibilities in which they can thrive. This can, in turn, improve the service you offer to clients.
How to support neurodivergent people in the workplace
Understanding the advantages that neurodivergent people can bring to your business and your clients is one thing, but actually creating an environment where they can perform at their best is quite another.
So what reasonable adjustments can you make to the workplace to enable neurodivergent employees to truly thrive? Practical steps could include:
- Forging a culture where everyone feels comfortable discussing their neurodiversity and sharing their experiences.
- Making sure all staff, including managers, are given regular training on neurodiversity. This could help to tackle the stigma surrounding this issue and make sure neurodivergent employees are given the respect they deserve.
- Empowering neurodivergent employees to put forward suggestions on how they could be better supported, and treating their requests respectfully and seriously.
- Making sure your recruitment process allows neurodivergent people to perform at their best. For instance, you could ask candidates to complete a practical task rather than go through a formal interview. You could also ask candidates if they have any specific needs before an interview or induction, and assure them this would not disqualify or disadvantage them in any way.
- Making sure your physical working environment caters to neurodivergent employees. For example, you could provide fixed desk spaces for those who want them, as some people might prefer to avoid hot desking.
- Use positive and inclusive language in every aspect of your business, from HR policies and employee handbooks to job descriptions and advertisements.
- Make sure all employees are treated fairly with regards to flexible working, training, professional development and promotion opportunities.
Finally, it’s really important that you have the right mindset. Neurodivergent people offer unique skills and attributes that could have huge advantages to your business, and if you understand and embrace this, the benefits may be widely felt sooner than you think.
For more information and resources on this topic, click below:
You can also find out more in our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion introductory guide here.