Neurodiversity guidelines for employers

 

First off, if you’re not entirely certain what neurodiversity is all about, we doubt you’re alone. We’re sure you could hazard a guess, but always better to be clear on these things. In short, neurodiversity refers to the natural range of differences in human brain function and can include conditions such as dyspraxia, dyslexia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, dyscalculia, autistic spectrum, Tourette syndrome, and others.

It’s estimated that around 10% of the population are neurodivergent in one way or another and often have a range of unique strengths as a result, such as data-driven thinking, the ability to have sustained focus over long periods, an ability to spot patterns and trends, and the capacity to process information at extraordinary speeds.

Yet, typically, organisations are set up to accommodate ‘neurotypicals’. Given that 1 in 10 of us are neurodivergent, the guide suggests that employers are potentially under-utilizing neurodiverse individuals. And as the poll of 303 HR professionals found that 72% said that consideration of neurodiversity wasn’t included in their people management practices, and 17% said that they didn’t know, they could be right.

As a result, the CIPD and Uptimize (a leading provider of neurodiversity inclusion training), is striving to raise awareness and understanding of neurodiversity at work. They’ve also come up with several relatively straight-forward adjustments that employers can adopt to make the most of the talents of this pool of people. As an example, these include:

Recruitment:

  • Ensure job descriptions are jargon free and clearly signal that your organisation welcomes neurodivergent individuals
  • Many recruitment practices often rely on competency frameworks where people are filtered out if they don’t meet minimum standards on a set of wide ranging capabilities – review your recruitment approach to ensure you’re not screening out talented individuals
  • Ensure interviewers are informed about neurodiversity so they are fair and empathetic in the interview process (such as by choosing a quiet interview space, avoiding rapid fire questions and understanding why some people might not make direct eye contact)

Workplaces:

  • Avoid really bright lights in your office that can be distracting or lead to sensory overload
  • Consider how noisy open plan environments can be distracting or lead to individuals feeling overwhelmed
  • Complete a desk assessment for any new joiners, helping them make sure their computer screen isn’t too bright and they have everything they need to aid personal organisation (such as trays and filing drawers)

Management:

  • Train line managers so that they feel confident and able to assist neurodiverse employees at work and help them make the most of their skills
  • Encourage regular one-to-ones and feedback between line managers and their reports to keep communication channels open and help motivate and support all employees
  • Make sure neurodiversity is welcomed and championed by senior leaders and that a culture of celebrating difference is encouraged throughout the organisation

HR:

  • Highlight employee support networks and similar resources clearly in the on-boarding process and on the company intranet for anyone who needs them
  • Ensure individualised support is available to all, from access to mentoring, coaching and counselling – make sure that support is clearly signposted
  • Address comfort at work on a regular basis through workspace preference questionnaires and broader employee satisfaction surveys

Dr Jill Miller, Diversity and Inclusion Adviser at the CIPD, said: “We’re just scratching the surface of understanding how neurodiversity at work can help organisations be more creative and innovative, but the insights we already do have show the unique value that neurodivergent individuals can bring to the workforce…Ultimately, everyone has the right to feel accepted and included at work and organisations have a responsibility to be a place where everyone can reach their potential. While workplace adjustments will be dependent on individual need, they are often small and inexpensive, and many actually benefit everyone.”

Ed Thompson, CEO of Uptimize, said: “We believe that embracing neurodiversity can be a significant competitive advantage – organisations have the opportunity to leverage the skills of this high potential, available talent pool.”

Thursday, 15 February 2018

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Anonymous Date: Feb 16, 2018

There is another side of the coin for consideration here. For the neurotypicals to be managed by a neurodivergent there may be negative consequences. Obsessive behaviour, attention to extreme detail, etc, by a neurodivergent manager can mean that their priorities are at odds with the business needs. Employees end up appeasing the manager, rather than delivering to achieve business objectives. Having experienced this kind of situation, it can be an extremely stressful working environment and in some instances definitely not conducive to innovation and creativity.

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Neurodiversity guidelines for employers