All organisations are likely to have neurodivergent employees, right now or in the future, so it's important that employers understand how to support them. Neurodiversity at work involves recognising that some employees may have different ways of interpreting information, interacting with others and problem solving.
Neurodivergent employees often possess a unique skillset that can benefit employers seeking progressive approaches to managing their organisation. The key is to recognise diversity, encourage it and support it with focused accommodations .
What is neurodiversity?
The concept of neurodiversity is the acceptance that all humans are different, with unique minds, needs and abilities. This approach moves beyond labels and recognises that differences in ability are natural across humanity and that we all have unique gifts and contributions to make.
Those who embrace the neurodiversity paradigm see value in neurodiversity being a natural and valuable form of human diversity. These differences in thinking, behaviour and learning should not be thought of as deficiencies or disorders but, instead, as variations in the way we each think and interpret.
We use the term ‘neurominority/ neurodivergent’ to refer to less-typical neurotypes such as ADHD, autism, dyslexia, dyspraxia, dysgraphia and Tourette Syndrome. Different neurotypes are more common than you may think, with approximately 15 to 20% of the population thought to be neurodivergent – in the UK this equates to one in seven people.
Celebrating Neurodiversity’s strengths
- ADHD: about 4% of the population, ADHDers can bring hyperfocus, creativity and a wealth of energy and passion to a role;
- Autism: about 2% of the population, autistics can bring concentration, fine detail processing and exceptional memory to a role;
- Dyscalculia: can impact learning - people with dyscalculia can bring heightened verbal skills and innovative thinking to a role;
- Dysgraphia: can affect written expression - people with dysgraphia can bring strong analytical and verbal communication skills to a role;
- Dyslexia: about 10% of the population, dyslexic individuals can bring heightened visual thinking, creativity and 3D mechanical skills to a role;
- Dyspraxia/DCD: about 5% of the population, dyspraxic individuals can bring heightened verbal skills, empathy and intuition to a role;
- Tourette Syndrome: a neurodevelopmental condition, people with Tourette Syndrome can bring keen observational skills, cognitive control and creativity to a role.
Why is a neuro-inclusive organisation important?
The business case for diversity has more recently highlighted the importance of 'diversity of thought' - that people with different backgrounds and experiences can challenge stereotypes and push thinking into new and innovative directions.
Many employers are now considering neurodivergence as part of their diversity and inclusion schemes. In fact, many of the top global companies - including Microsoft, JPMorgan, EY, Google, SAP, DXC Technology, Ford and Amazon - are already running successful neurodiversity-at-work initiatives.
People perform better when they can be themselves at work, so it is vital that organisations create inclusive working environments to support all employees, including neurodivergent individuals.