How to become a neurodiversity friendly organisation
These top tips were provided by the lovely Vicki Carss when we caught up with her!
It is estimated that 1 in 7 people are neurodivergent, meaning that they learn information and process this in a different way to others. To people employed in the UK, this likely means that most of us are working alongside at least one individual who has a neurodiverse condition, such as Dyslexia, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), or Autism Spectrum Conditions (ASC).
Neurodiverse strengths are being more widely recognised in the workplace. Although, a recent CIPD survey in 2018 stated that only 10% of HR professionals reported that their organisation is focusing on neurodiversity in the workplace. This shows that there is a lot more that organisations can do to harness the strengths of this diverse pool of talent.
What are the benefits to thinking differently?
Empowering and supporting neurodiversity in the workplace benefits not only the individual, but also their line manager and the team around them. Alongside some of the challenges these differences may bring, there are a number of key strengths and talents that neurodiversity can bring to an organisation. Talents include (but are certainly not limited to!) innovation, creativity, hyper-focus and high levels of stamina, pattern recognition, and problem solving.
What can organisations do to become neurodiversity friendly?
1. Adjustments to recruitment processes
In 2019, the National Autism Society reported that only 16% of adults with ASC in the UK are in full-time paid employment. However, a massive 79% of ASC individuals would like to be in work. Just a few small adjustments to processes and approaches to recruitment could make a very big difference to the type of talent an organisation attracts.
The language used in job adverts can sometimes contain information that is largely irrelevant to the role and can deter neurodiverse candidates from applying. For example, a job role may have a person specification profile to be a ‘an excellent communicator’ when that is often not a core element of the role. A neurodiverse candidate may be perfect for the role, but unnecessary language on the need to be an excellent communicator may deter them.
Another point to consider is ensuring that job application forms, and other written materials, are presented in a neurodiversity friendly format, such as Arial size 12 font. Colour contrasting the text onto a background that is not black text on a white background can also make words appear a lot clearer.
2. Raising Awareness
Organisations should raise awareness among managers and staff. This enables the workforce to
increase their understanding of neurodiversity and to learn what terms like autism spectrum conditions, dyslexia and ADHD mean, and how these differences might affect an individual at work. Awareness allows line managers and HR to offer support to individuals and encourage disclosure.
3. Support neurodiverse individuals by providing reasonable adjustments
An employer has a duty of care to consider making reasonable adjustments to remove or minimise any disadvantage that a neurodiverse person is experiencing. Organisations should be proactive in having a process in place to provide adjustments, such as with a neurodiversity specialist or with their occupational health provider. When support is provided, Lexxic have found that 93% of employees report that they have seen a positive difference in their work performance. Furthermore, a study conducted by Lexxic found that 94% of employees in a large financial organisation are more likely to remain with their employer due to the support they received.
4. Create a neurodiversity network
Research shows that encouraging and supporting networks for specific demographic groups has a direct link with retention and makes individuals feel better connected to their employer. Creating neurodiversity networks allows people to start a conversation about diversity and can be a great source of support.
A neurodiverse workforce brings unique experiences, perspectives, skills and knowledge to an organisation. When these come together, amazing things can happen. At Lexxic, we are passionate about encouraging organisations to value and recognise neurodiverse talent and the unique contribution they make to the team and the organisation.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it is a start!
You can see more of Lexxic's advice, or catch up with Vicki yourselves via their website.