How can I help my neurodiverse employees thrive?

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There are many benefits to hiring neurodiverse people, but like everyone, each neurodiverse person has different skills and support needs in order for them to thrive.
Neurodiversity covers a whole range of conditions such as autism, dyspraxia, ADHD, and dyslexia. Everyone has unique qualities that can develop an organisation.

How can you be more supportive of your neurodiversity employees and colleagues?

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Talking openly: When around neurodiverse colleagues, try to make them feel part of the team but also do not make them feel exposed. Let them talk about their neurodiversity to workmates and others around them. It will help them at work and will also help the employer to learn more about the condition and to make accommodations.

Breaking stigma: As stated above, part of breaking the stigma around people with neurodivergences is to have an open mind and inclusive culture. Ask about their lives and their hobbies, make them feel at home and do not judge. There are special days dedicated to neurodiversity, you can include the team in that, as an example.

Delivering awareness training: This is best done as soon as possible and makes the team aware of neurodiversity in the workplace and offers advice on how best to help them thrive in the workplace. Exceptional Individuals offers neurodiversity training and workshops for your workplace.

Creating a neurodiversity policy: This is now vital to any workplace in the 21st century as now there is a lot more acceptance and understanding around neurodiversity and it is best to have a neurodiversity policy written up in clear writing before hiring and it not only makes it good for prospective employees but other neurodiverse recruiters too.

Neurodiversity is just an umbrella word for a section of cognitive differences. Not every condition is the same so the needs of each person will be different and the response would have to be tailored to them.
Some examples:

  • If an autistic person has sensory issues with light, you can move them to a dimmer area and place a dark filter on their computer screen to make it easier.
  • If they need stimuli to make them concentrate while working, it is a good idea to have fidget toys and gadgets at easy reach at all times.
  • Assigning a line manager who will look after them and know their needs.
  • For dyspraxia, having ‘safety nets’- i.e. curved desks and stubbed edges to prevent injury.
  • Have a quiet room set up for down-time

These and many more can make a huge difference in the long run and will help both the workplace and the surrounding community at large.

  • Recognise their strengths and weaknesses
    It is wise to assess your neurodiverse employee to see what their strengths and weaknesses are so you can work around them and make the environment both welcoming and accommodating.  Reward the successful employee with glass awards and trophies to motivate them and others and show appreciation for their efforts. On the first week of employment, sit down and have a chat to see what they can and cannot do. Adjust their work around their strengths while working to develop their weaknesses at the same time. A good place to start is to have your neurodiverse employee create a Spiky profile.
  • Attend Neurodiversity Workshops
    If you as an employer are still unsure, there are a plethora of workshops available that aim to educate employers about the benefits of hiring neurodiverse people and adjusting to their needs. Exceptional Individuals has a range of workshops and you can book by using the contact form.
  • Let them have a voice
    When in the work environment, it is best to treat your neurodiverse employees like any other worker as no one likes to be singled out or ‘othered’. Make sure their voice is heard as much as possible and make them have equal importance in the work environment as much as their neurotypical peers. In meetings, if they want to contribute, let them say their piece. Make them feel like they are safe in the environment. It is essential to give employees a space to have networking on the team and develop their skills with peer-to-peer recognition ideas, cooperation, and authentic voice.

Exceptional Individuals have resources available for both employers and employees.

How can you improve your recruitment and hiring process to accommodate neurodiversity?

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Exceptional Individuals offer neurodiversity workplace training to teach employers not to fall into the unconscious bias trap. Biases and stereotyping have been around for many years and it is only just recently that employers have come to really understand the benefits of hiring neurodiverse employees. Sadly, these still persist, especially in places that are not disability confident. To make interviews more comfortable for neurodiverse hires the employer first has to ask if the person has any direct needs and how the interviewer can address them. For example, if the person wants the questions in advance to prepare for the interview, you could forward the questions to them, or in the days of face to face, a quiet room, water, fewer people in the room, etc.

These days most of the interviews are done remotely. A good thing to do in this case is to first see which conference programme the person is most comfortable with. Another is getting rid of any distractions around the interview so the interviewer can choose to utilise a virtual background to not trigger sensory issues. In the case of the interviewee asking for a recorded version to look back on, it is wise to provide one.

At Exceptional Individuals, we provide full neurodiversity consultant services for our partner organisation’s recruitment processes and provide key recommendations to ensure your processes are inclusive.

What can you provide your neurodiverse employees at work to enable them to work at their best?

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When a neurodiverse employee is first hired, a workplace needs assessment can be undertaken, if the employee would like this. Exceptional Individuals can conduct workplace needs assessments, and these are usually funded through the UK Government’s Access to Work fund. The employee may request small adjustments such as dimming the lights near them or working closer to the window, to assistive technology such as:

  • Speech to text software if they have motor issues. The most popular one on the market is Microsoft Dictate but others are available such as Dragon Dictate and Conversely. These put the spoken words into text and make it easier to write.
  • Software like MindMap and MindNode for Apple hardware are great planning and mapping tools designed to help balance workflow and plan the work days ahead.
  • Text to Speech is also a very good tool and works one to one with the speech to text software mentioned above. Most computers come with text to speech already installed.
  • Adaptive tools such as special keyboards, mice, magnifying glasses for computer screens and chairs are all very useful, again fitted for the employee’s needs.

Thus, after a hard-working month, it would be a benefit to appreciate your employees’ work, such as preparing a thank you gift for your workers or offering special discounts for some valuable services.

Contact us to find out more about how you can support your neurodiverse employees and enable everyone in your organisation to thrive.

Blog Author

Solmaz Farad