Supporting Neurodiversity in the Workplace

Many companies are increasing their diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) efforts concerning gender, ethnicity, and cultural background. However, another group is often underrepresented in the workplace: the neurodiverse.

What is neurodiversity?

Neurodiverse individuals have neurological or developmental conditions such as autism, ADHD, or dyslexia. There is an increasing understanding that although neurodiverse job seekers might not present themselves in a "typical" fashion, they are in no way less qualified.It's also important to note that many neurodivergent people may not appear to be different from the outside - and it's very likely that you already have neurodivergent people on staff!

How Can You Support Your Neurodiverse Staff?

Neurodiverse individuals often experience difficulties when it comes to getting hired, receiving workplace accommodations, and growing their careers. It takes effort and understanding by both employers and employees to create a positive experience for neurodiverse workers.For example, an individual with ADHD may experience difficulty showing up on time to meetings. This is not because they are lazy or have poor discipline, but because a common symptom of ADHD prevents them from knowing how long a particular task will take - even ones they have done repeatedly. An accommodation might be adding a 15-minute "buffer period" to meetings.Consider these other ideas for supporting neurodiverse employees in the workplace:

Provide Easy Access to Workplace Accommodations

Neurodiverse individuals often have sensory and cognitive issues that require accommodations. Companies could reduce the need to ask for them by offering them at the onset and mentioning their availability during interviews, onboarding, and employee communications. Accommodations can include things like:

  • Noise-canceling headphones
  • Privacy rooms
  • Adjustable desks and chairs
  • Flexible work schedules

Create Flexibility

It is necessary to cultivate a high degree of flexibility to create a positive working experience for—and with—neurodiverse individuals. Differences in how neurodiverse people think or interact with others can create uncomfortable situations that label neurodiverse individuals with “personality problems.” Educating all employees on effective, productive, and respectful communication methods can help ease awkward situations. Your entire staff will benefit from flexibility, but your neurodiverse employees may benefit from some of these options in particular:

  • Meetings with diverse ways to contribute
  • Extended feedback periods for team decisions
  • A range of ways and places to get work done
  • An open discussion about preferred communication and learning styles

Customize Career Development

Success takes different forms for different people, and that is especially true among the neurodiverse.Some individuals may prefer to work alone; others may prefer teamwork.Some may aspire to reach the “top” level of their profession, while others are content enjoying their work and functioning within their team.To ensure success for all, organizations must identify the goals of both neurodiverse and neurotypical employees and create successful career paths for all.Looking for more information on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging in the workplace? At Premier Talent Partners, our mission is to promote equitable hiring through our commitment to embracing diverse identities, thoughts, and backgrounds. You can read more about our areas of focus here or gain access to our diverse pool of highly qualified talent by reaching out to a recruiter today!

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