Managing neurodiversity in the workplace

One of the hottest topics in the world of HR at the moment is how employers can support neurodiverse employees and create a neuro-inclusive workplace. If the terms neurodiverse and neuro-inclusive are new to you, you’re in the perfect place. This article will explain what those terms mean, why they’re important for you as an employer.

What is neurodiversity?

Neurodiversity is a new(ish) term that refers to people who have autism, Asperger’s, ADHD, dyslexia, dyspraxia and a range of other neurological conditions.

They’re known as ‘spectrum’ conditions, which means they can present with a different range of characteristics depending on the person. But there are some common features in terms of preferred communication style and ways of processing information, for example.

Why is neurodiversity important?

1 in 7 people in UK are thought to be neurodivergent, and awareness is brought to different conditions more and more. There’s never been a more important time, as an employer, to take a good look at how certain aspects of your business are set up to help those with different neurological conditions, and whether you’re taking full advantage of the potential a neurodiverse talent pool has to offer your business.

Neurodiversity and the Equality Act 2010

Under the Equality Act 2010, employers are required to make what’s known as ‘reasonable adjustments’ to support their differently-abled job applicants and employees.

It’s important to seriously consider reasonable adjustments so you can make sure your workplace is as inclusive as possible. That goes from as early as job adverts and recruitment through to performance management.

In reality, many of the tweaks you can make to your processes can actually benefit everyone! So, let’s take a look at some of the ways you can create a more neuro-inclusive and wider pool of brilliant candidates.

Supporting neurodiversity in recruitment

When it comes to recruiting, diversity is always a plus for your business. Why? Because you’re opening your talent pool to a greater number of skills and talents. Creating teams with a great range of skills allows for innovation and creative thinking could well lead to the next evolution of your business.

Here's some tips to consider:

  • Job ads - try not to use too much industry jargon. Use plain English and focus on the core skills you need in a candidate
  • Application form - if you use an application form, try to make sure it's as easy to fill out as possible. Or consider providing clearly outlined instructions on how to complete it.
  • Interviews - try to adjust your interview technique to maximise results for a neurodiverse person. For example, a candidate with autism or Asperger’s might not be comfortable making eye contact or answering hypothetical or abstract questions. However, concentrating concrete details of the job may well see them excel.

Neurodiversity and performance management

If you’re not aware of a person’s neurological condition, at first glance it may appear that a colleague is underperforming in some way. If an employee is comfortable enough to disclose their neurological condition with you, it makes it easier to have direct conversations about how you can help and guide them.

However, an employee doesn’t have to disclose any kind of condition to you. So how can you support those working for you? It’s all about creating an atmosphere that allows for differences and acceptance.

For example, if an employee struggles with focusing in a noisy, open-plan office, it can help to provide quieter spaces for them to work. Whether or not an employee is neurodivergent, it always pays to listen to your people and acknowledge what they need to give the best performance possible.

Awareness and company culture

The overall culture in a company has a huge effect on how well a neurodivergent employee performs. Providing everybody with information on the variety of conditions that fall under the definition of neurodiverse is a great start. If people are aware of the different ways others process information and perform in social situations, it will no doubt promote a great sense of understanding and empower people to communicate how to get the best from them.

Of course, some of the helpful ways to manage neurodiverse colleagues are actually great ways to manage anyone! Clear communication, balanced workload and tasks suited to individual strengths is the ideal kind of workplace for everyone’s skills and talents to flourish.

Team sat at table

Getting the best out of your people with Citation…

If you want to explore how you can make your business more friendly for current and prospective neurodiverse colleagues, or you want to understand your duties as an employer when it comes to the Equality Act 2010, then Citation can help.

From legal obligations through to employee engagement strategies, our team of HR and Employment Law experts can guide you in the right direction when it comes to getting the best out of your people. Just fill out your details in the form opposite or call us on 0345 844 1111.

Already a Citation client? Remember you can contact our HR and Employment Law advice line 24/7, 365 days a year by giving us a call on 0345 844 4848.

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