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Eclipse HR

by Callum Wadlan |

As we recently celebrated neurodiversity week, it is a good time to reflect on the importance of building an inclusive workforce and consider the experiences neurodivergent people face, especially those facing professional challenges at the workplace.

15% of the UK’s population are neurodivergent and with further discussions and support for those receiving diagnoses, this number is likely to increase each year.

It’s not just ADHD to be aware of; autism spectrum disorder (ASD), dyslexia, dyspraxia, and dyscalculia, are all just a few examples of neurodistinct profiles.

A Great Asset to the Team

With 1 out of 7 of your employees learning and processing information differently, it opens a whole new perception of innovation, creativity, and new problem-solving solutions. A common strength for those with ADHD and ASD is hyperfocus, making them able to put a high level of concentration, attention to detail, and accuracy with their tasks.

A recent JP Morgan Chase report showcased their neurodivergent employees were 92% more productive and 48% faster than their neurotypical coworkers.

Hiring neurodivergent workers can give your business a cutting edge against the competition, harnessing the power of both efficiency and cultural benefits. Unfortunately, traditional hiring processes can prevent neurodiverse individuals from applying to your company, by learning how to open up the process to be more inclusive will allow growth in your team diversity!

Transforming The Hiring Process

The hiring process is the first key step for any candidate to make a good impression, but it is also a perfect opportunity in showcasing how inclusive your organisation is to work for!

If you are looking to reap the benefits of having a more diverse team, then an inclusive recruitment strategy can transform your hiring process into a more neurodiverse-friendly applicant experience.

Such adaptations could include:

  • Make the job advertisement clear and concise. For example, use of sections and bullet pointing key information, such as qualifications and skills.
  • If you require a cover letter, or specific application, be clear with a step-to-step guide on what information you are looking to see from the candidate.
  • Set their expectations early on what the application process will look like. This could be informing them of a potential group assessment day, or a final 30-minute interview.
  • If giving them tasks to be completed, such as an assessment, make sure the instructions are written down, and not just verbally given. Try not to make these tasks time-sensitive if they really don’t need to be – you wouldn’t expect your employees to rush through answering questions, so why make your candidates?
  • When conducting an in-person interview, ask the candidate if the room temperature and lighting is comfortable for them.
  • Use specific interview questions that leave no room for ambiguity. For example, “Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time?” try instead “What career goals are you wishing to achieve in this position?”

Supporting Neurodiverse Staff

Just like with any valued employee, you want to nurture their workplace experience to ensure you retain them for as long as possible. In a recent report, 5.5 million UK workers feel undervalued in their role, with a quarter willing to leave their role without another lined up.

It is important to schedule regular check-ins with these employees, such as once a quarter. Firstly, to validate their performance so they can feel a mental sense of security surrounding their knowledge. But also, it is a great opportunity for you to steer focus on things they could improve on, but be mindful that all feedback should be presented in clearly structured steps and should never be vague or overly critical.

Upon this reflection, you can check if there are any reasonable adjustments that could be made to assist them with their progress going forward.

Providing Reasonable Adjustments:

If an employee makes it known to you that they require reasonable adjustments to fulfil their job role more effectively, you must make these changes under The Equality Act 2010. Some examples can include:

  • Having all tasks in writing, such as by email, can assist those who have a limited short-term memory function, most common with those diagnosed with ADHD but can be co-occurrent with ASD.
  • Shorter but regular breaks can help reset a neurodivergent’s headspace, allowing them to maintain greater productivity throughout the day.
  • Sometimes certain equipment may be necessary to keep focus and prevent overstimulation. Use of noise-cancelling headphones have been a popular adjustment to those who find background noise in their work environment distracting or overwhelming.

For further suggestions:

ADHD UK – Reasonable Adjustments https://adhduk.co.uk/reasonable-adjustments/

Autism NHS – Reasonable Adjustments https://www.leicspart.nhs.uk/autism-space/employment/reasonable-adjustments-at-work-autistic-people/

Employment Tribunals

Not only can it have such a beneficial reward for your business, but it can also have a negative impact if left ignored. Employment tribunals heard over 100 employment claims in 2022 where neurodiversity featured as a major part of their grounds for discrimination.

Even though the awareness of neurodivergences is on the rise, the workplace understanding has yet to catch up, leaving businesses ill-equipped to fairly treat their neurodivergent staff.

By making sure proper training and clear policies are put in place in your business protects neurodiverse employees from unfair treatment, and also protects your business from future claims.

As we recently celebrate neurodiversity week, it is a good time to reflect on the importance of building an inclusive workforce and consider the experiences neurodivergent people face, especially those facing professional challenges at the workplace.

Neurodiversity

Not only do businesses have a moral duty to consider how they view neurodiversity, workplace equality, diversity and inclusion is about valuing every employee as an individual.

Sources:

Petterson, L. 2019. IBM Australia to roll out neurodiversity program, hiring people with autism to fill variety of IT roles. ABC Ballarat. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-04-02/ibm-to-hire-australian-employees-with-autism/10962852.

Qazi, H. 2022. D&I clinic: How to make recruitment processes more inclusive for neurodivergent workers, HR People https://www.hrmagazine.co.uk/content/comment/di-clinic-how-to-make-recruitment-processes-more-inclusive-for-neurodivergent-workers

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