HR Focus on Neurodiversity in the Workplace

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What is Neurodiversity?

The word is derived from two parts – neurological and diversity.   It is a term used for lots of different people who have different thinking or communicating styles.  These include lots of different conditions, including autism and ADHD, which impact how people communicate with others and the world around them.   It also includes conditions like dyslexia, which effects how people read and spell, or dyspraxia, which impacts your movement and coordination.

The Business Case

Neurodiversity is moving up the organisation agenda for a number of reasons.  With the business case for diversity as a whole now accepted, organisations aiming to be truly inclusive employers cannot exclude such a significant demographic; to continue doing so risks missing out on talent and compromising on productivity and customer trust.  The business case for diversity has highlighted the importance of ‘diversity of thought’, i.e. putting people with different perspectives, backgrounds, and experiences in a room, therefore creating a more innovative and creative team.

The Workplace

Every employee in your workplace is unique, and requires different levels of support.  Some may only need minimal supervision whilst others may need more training and guidance.  For employees who are part of the neurodivergent community, you may need to consider a new approach.  Neurodiverse employees’ brain’s function, learn and process information differently than neurotypical people, which can mean that they will need additional adjustments in their roles.

Managing neurodiverse employees involves learning about these neurological differences and how they can affect life at work.   Improving support for neurodiversity at work encourages more employees to speak out and seek support from their managers—this way your neurodivergent workforce can thrive.  Without the right support, neurodivergent team members are at risk of suffering with poor mental wellbeing and high levels of stress.

Ensuring the success of Neurodivergent employees within your organisation:

Revisit the recruitment process

  • Cast a wider net
  • Revaluate screening criteria and review processes
  • Follow inclusive recruitment and selection practices.

Create a conducive working environment

  • Respect individual differences
  • Allow a person who is neurodivergent the freedom to accomplish tasks in their own way
  • Foster an atmosphere of inclusion and acceptance.

Provide tailored career journeys

  • Adopt organisational policies that support Neurodiversity
  • Do not predefine what success/growth should look like
  • Offer opportunities for mentoring and coaching.

The Future

Fast-moving employers are taking steps to include neurodivergent people now – a group that likely represents more than 10% of the population, and thus in many cases a significant proportion of job applicants, customers, and existing staff.  The big hitters, Microsoft, Google and Amazon are paving the way for Neurodivergent employees and are currently working to develop neurodiversity-at-work initiatives.

Although we, as SME’s cannot compete on the size of a global organisation’s training budget, it is still imperative that we have a professional approach and awareness in terms of our ever-changing workforces.

If you need any support on this topic please contact our HR Growth team on 01274 864 999. 

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