A growing number of employers are becoming increasingly aware of the competitive advantage that comes with promoting and supporting a neurodivergent workforce. A lot of neurodivergent employees bring unique skills to an organisation, which can give the business a considerable competitive edge. But, there are still improvements that can be made.
According to recent figures, neurodiversity disability discrimination employment tribunals are on the rise in the UK. Though they are considered to be one of the least common types of disability discrimination claims, those based on neurodivergent conditions have increased recently. Over the last couple of years, there has been over a 40% rise in tribunal claims relating to autism, and a rise of 31% in those related to Asperger’s. Plus, 14% more claims related to dyslexia went through the courts. Considering that neurodivergent employees often give a business a creative and innovative boost, discriminating against these individuals could be counterproductive and hindering to an employer in the long run.
Understanding Neurodiversity in the Workplace
The term ‘neurodiversity’ refers to the varying ways that the brain works, and the different ways it interprets information. Everyone naturally processes information and situations in different ways, and people tend to have different interests, strengths and weaknesses. However, neurodiversity goes behind this. People who identify as neurodivergent can have a number of conditions including ADS, ADHD, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia and various mental health conditions. Of course, the list doesn’t stop there, and the number of neurodivergent conditions is always growing. It’s estimated that around one in seven people are neurodivergent, and an increasing number of adults are being diagnosed as such. With this in mind, employers need to be aware of neurodiversity and the accommodations that might need to be made for many employees.
Research by Hewlett Packard Enterprise found that teams with neurodivergent individuals in some key roles could be 30% more productive than teams without. This highlights just how valuable and beneficial it is to embrace neurodiversity in the workplace. It’s common for neurodiverse individuals to be passionate and creative, to have excellent memory capabilities and to pay close attention to detail. However, there are some hurdles for neurodiverse individuals in the workplace, with recent government data estimating that less than 30% of autistic adults are currently working in the UK.
How Can Employers Support Neurodiverse Employees?
To encourage and support neurodiverse employees, employers need to be willing to adopt inclusive policies and make reasonable adjustments wherever necessary. Neurodiversity can create difficulties in the workplace, and employers should make adjustments starting at the recruitment stage. Things such as keeping job advertisements simple and giving advance notice of any interview exercises can make the process a lot more inclusive.
Employers should also encourage open communication with employees that are struggling due to neurodiversity, and listen to concerns, struggles and solutions. If an employee is struggling, employers should take steps towards making reasonable adjustments. For example, allowing an employee to use headphones or have flexible working hours, or sourcing dictation software. It should be simple for an employee to speak to a manager or HR if they are having issues at work because of neurodiversity, and there should be designated support available. All policies used in the business should include equal, diverse and inclusive language. By embracing neurodiversity in the workplace, employers can benefit from a creative, passionate and talented team.
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