Neurodiversity has various benefits in the workplace. People with neurocognitive impairments have unique talents, views, and skills that may be very useful in a variety of job settings. Employers are increasingly recognizing these advantages and developing hiring programs aimed at attracting neurodiverse staff. While these initiatives are more popular in bigger organizations, they have shown to be useful for small and medium-sized businesses across multiple sectors.
Hiring neurodiverse people may provide organizations a competitive advantage that results in demonstrable financial and workplace cultural advantages. People with neurocognitive disorders sometimes face employment difficulties before they can even begin working. From job descriptions to interviewing, different components of the recruiting process might raise concerns that dissuade neurodiverse applicants from applying for a position.
Making a workplace neurodiverse — which includes people with ADHD, dyslexia, and other related conditions — can help you tap into a previously untapped pool of employee ability. For example, at least 20% of the adult population is neurodiverse, while 80% of individuals who are neurodiverse are jobless. With ten million employment opportunities to fill, these workers are well-positioned to offer their talents and ingenuity to a workforce that has mostly overlooked them.
Communication is where companies fail neurodiverse talent. If a corporation regards discussions about neurodiversity as a legal risk or a human resources concern, it may voice reservations about hiring these people even before they are employed. Candidates that are neurodiverse may then feel alienated and unwanted.
Engage with management so that they may have discussions with their teams on what it means to have a neurodiverse workforce. It is critical that these discussions be open and transparent. It must be a safe area for both neurotypical and neurodiverse personnel to ask questions and come forward and disclose.
Employers might benefit from community groups that can assist them in locating and attracting neurodiverse talent. Government agencies, non-profits, vocational rehabilitation centers, educational institutions, and disability offices are examples of these organizations. In addition to assisting with recruiting, such organizations may give valuable training guidance and resources.
Soft skill training is an important element of developing a neurodiverse workforce, and it should be done by a professional with relevant expertise, which you may find in your local community. This training isn't only for neurodiverse employees; it's for everyone, including managers, who need to understand the spectrum and how to work together effectively.
What has hindered so many businesses from hiring people with the abilities they really require? It all boils down to how they locate and recruit talent, as well as who they hire.
HR teams are established with the goal of wide implementation across the business, especially in big organizations. However, scalability and the objective of attracting neurodiverse talent are at odds. The emphasis is on having scalable HR systems; but, if we used the same practices for everyone, persons with autism would be overlooked.
Furthermore, many neurodiverse people's behaviors are at odds with traditional notions of what makes a good employee—strong communication skills, teamwork, emotional intelligence, persuasiveness, salesperson-type personalities, the ability to network, the ability to follow standard procedures without special accommodations, and so on. Neurodiverse persons are carefully screened out using these characteristics.
However, they are not the sole means of providing value. In reality, many organizations' capacity to compete on the basis of innovation has grown increasingly important in recent decades. Organizations must add diversity to the mix in order to innovate, including people and ideas from "the margins." Having folks who view things differently and don't always fit in helps counteract our inclination as a large corporation to all gaze in the same direction.
Here's how to deal with neurodiverse workers.
Short (some are only half a day), low-key training sessions assist existing employees in learning what to anticipate from their new coworkers, such as the necessity for accommodations and the possibility of seeming different. Managers receive a little more in-depth training to acquaint them with resources for program personnel.
Simple support systems for new employees are designed and maintained by companies with neurodiverse programs. You should have two support circles: one for the workplace and one for the home life of an employee. A team manager, a team buddy, a job and life skills coach, a work mentor, and a partner who manages a group of program participants make up the workplace support circle. Buddies are coworkers that help with everyday activities, workload management, and prioritizing. Coaches for job and life skills are typically employed by social partner groups. A vocational rehab counselor and a personal counselor are two more social partner responsibilities. Employees' families are frequently supportive.
Employees employed through special programs, like all other workers, require long-term career trajectories. This necessitates substantial consideration of continuing evaluation and growth that takes into account the unique conditions of neurodiverse work. Fortunately, managers frequently get a strong understanding of program employees' abilities and limits over time. Participants are evaluated in the same way that other employees are, but managers work within those processes to develop unique objectives.
Although certain goals may be related to the participants' circumstances, no exceptions are provided for poor performance. Neurodiverse personnel, on the other hand, must fulfill even more standards than others because they must meet program goals in addition to the performance goals required of anybody in their position.
Companies that take neurodiversity initiatives have faced obstacles. Although there are many possible candidates, many are difficult to identify since institutions concerned about discrimination do not classify students in terms of neurodiversity, and potential candidates do not always self-identify. Microsoft is collaborating with colleges to enhance how neurodiverse talent is identified and accessed.
Another typical issue is candidates' aspirations being broken when they are not picked for placement—an unavoidable scenario that must be handled with care.
It's possible that issues of fairness and interaction standards will develop as well. A program participant with overstimulation issues was given his own office on one occasion, while four workers from an adjacent department were crammed into a comparable area, causing complaints. After an explanation was given, the crowd dissipated. We also heard stories of autistic people's tendency to be overly honest, which raised some eyebrows.
Some supervisors stated that the initiative provided them with more work. For example, some participants' perfectionist inclinations made it difficult for them to determine which problems were worth correcting, which were not, and which needed them to seek extra guidance.
Another problem is dealing with the stress of neurodiverse staff. Unexpected and unpredictable situations, such as system failures that disrupted work patterns, were reported to have created exceptionally high levels of anxiety among participants. Many of the persons we spoke with spoke out about the need to be sympathetic to the stress of program staff. Some participants only work part-time to keep things under control, which can cause issues, especially as deadlines approach. Organizations must have individuals in place who can recognize and address issues before they escalate in order to deal with such circumstances.
Autistic workforce has an edge in information processing and are better able to notice essential information, which might explain their higher-than-average prevalence in IT jobs. Pattern recognition and recognizing abnormalities, such as cyber-attacks, are strengths of people with autism.
Employees that are neurodiverse offer a variety of experiences and talents to the workplace, allowing you to be more productive and broaden your perspective on your target audience. The more diverse your team is, the more distinct thoughts and views you'll be able to offer to any given situation, including neurodiversity.
Neurodiverse persons are an untapped talent pool, and with 80% of Autistic people in Ireland jobless, there is a significant resource to help fill the skills deficit gap, particularly in the IT and finance industries. Diverse businesses have been shown to outthink and outperform heterogeneous environments.
Dyslexics frequently have ordinary or above-average intelligence, as well as great creative thinking abilities. They have excellent problem-solving and spatial thinking skills. They can perceive a range of solutions to an issue as a result of this. Autism is known to thrive in areas such as rule-based reasoning. Many businesses are reaping the benefits of incorporating people with these skills into their workforces.
It's tough to encourage your employees if you don't understand their motivations. Try to ask about their wants and needs and find out how they define motivation. You may then focus on aligning each person's job and duties with their objectives (i.e., personal or professional), as well as tailoring motivating tactics to each employee's needs.
We must continually evaluate our prejudices as leaders and coworkers since they may be impacting how we handle neurodiverse individuals and preventing us from properly promoting neurodiversity in the workplace. There are many assumptions about how neurodiversity appears and displays in the workplace. If neurodiverse employees make it past the interview stage, this might make them feel invisible and invalidated. Proactive hiring, maintaining, and establishing safe work conditions for all employees should be a never-ending effort that begins at the top and is highly valued by the whole business.
Employee exploration can help initiate dialogues about neurodiversity and other characteristics that lead to a better understanding of them. News stories and blogs are just a few examples of how to engage employees and show their strengths and weaknesses. You can use a social intranet to keep neurodiverse employees engaged and motivated.