We are fortunate to live in an age where difference is much more likely to be embraced and celebrated than avoided. The world of work is now heavily focused on diversity, equity and inclusion to ensure that all individuals are accommodated and supported at work.
One of the newest areas of inclusion that businesses are turning their attention to is how to cater for Neurodiversity - from recruiting neurodivergent talent to creating a suitable work environment for neurodivergent employees.
What is Neurodiversity?
Neurodiversity is the concept that everyone experiences and interacts with the world around them differently. Someone who is neurodivergent tends to think and behave differently due to their personal experience of their surroundings compared with most people who would be considered 'neurotypical'. Neurodiversity acknowledges that a neurodivergent response to the world is not 'right' or 'wrong' but merely different. These differences are not a deficit or disability but just atypical in society.
Some examples of neurodiverse conditions are; ADHD, Autism, Dyspraxia, Dyslexia, Dyscalculia and Tourette's syndrome, all of which can affect how a person thinks, learns, behaves and processes information.
The benefits of hiring Neurodivergent employees
It has been reported that having a neurodiverse workforce can significantly benefit organisations, bringing increased innovation and creativity and giving companies a competitive advantage.
Neurodivergent workers can be compassionate and high-achieving, offering empathy, emotional intelligence, and increased perception. For example, JPMorgan Chase found that professionals in its 'Autism at Work' initiative made fewer errors and were 90% - 140% more productive than neurotypical employees.
According to the World Economic Forum's Future of Jobs Report, skills such as critical thinking and problem-solving, which neurodivergent individuals often excel at, could be the most in-demand attributes in the workplace by 2025.
In addition, as the war for talent rages on, having an inclusive policy on Neurodiversity can also help recruit the best neurotypical people, as many candidates are now turning down jobs at companies who don't have a full D,E & I programme.
How to support Neurodiversity in the workplace
Having recognised the benefits of employing neurodivergent individuals, many companies are now starting to offer support for people with a variety of needs, allowing them to work productively and access the same opportunities as neurotypical people.
Tools such as Recite Me, which can be seen on the McGregor Boyall website, can help neurodivergent individuals search the job market by making the information more accessible through options like the narration of content and changing the font size or adjusting background colour to suit the user. McGregor Boyall has reported that the new tech is worth investing in, with over 2,500 users in the last 12 months.
Other initiatives to attract neurodiverse talent include using positive and inclusive language in advertising and adapting the interview processes to accommodate various needs. This could be as simple as taking regular breaks in interviews or splitting them over more than one session to avoid overstimulation. Other options can include asking candidates to prepare assignments in advance of or after the formal interview to help reduce the pressure of answering questions on the spot and allow individuals to showcase their creativity and problem-solving skills.
Within the workplace, support can be offered in a variety of ways. Physical needs can be accommodated, such as ensuring someone with auditory sensitivities has a quiet area to work in, perhaps away from communal areas such as kitchens or meeting rooms. Another example could be for company information to be available in different font colours and sizes to make it accessible to those with dyslexia. Many assistive technologies now exist, and in a recent report by the British Assistive Technology Association (BATA), 78% of assistive technology users said that it had improved their effectiveness at work, 64% said it had improved their job satisfaction, and 55% said it had improved their opinion of their employer.
Emotional needs can also be supported through training of all staff to improve understanding of neurodiverse conditions and encourage a culture of inclusivity. Creating internal company networks or providing career coaching can both help neurodivergent employees with building confidence and recognising their strengths, and highlighting them to the broader workforce.
Specific training for managers can be helpful here to ensure an understanding of legal obligations in terms of flexibility and reasonable adjustments to working environments or provision of resources for neurodivergent employees, as well as training in how to effectively and sensitively manage the performance of neurodivergent team members.
Companies should also be focused on ensuring they offer the same opportunities for promotion and development to neurodivergent employees as any other staff member.
Overall, the sensitivity of colleagues, understanding from employers and the availability of assistive technology can all make for more contented employees and the ability to support a more diverse and innovative workforce, leading to greater productivity and retention of staff, both of which have a direct business benefit.
If you are looking for your next career move in HR or looking for support in hiring as part of your D,E&I strategy, talk to our expert recruitment team at McGregor Boyall today.