Building a culture that embraces inclusion and diversity is fundamental for a company’s success.

While we know that a workplace made up of talent from different backgrounds and life experiences is a must, only 47 per cent of employees say they feel they employers support and empower neurodivergent individuals.

A relatively new term, neurodiversity describes individuals’ diverse ways of thinking, learning, processing and behaving, and covers a range of neurological conditions including Autism, ADHD, Developmental Language Disorder, Dyscalculia, Dysgraphia, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, Epilepsy and Tourette’s Syndrome.

In the UK, around one in seven people (15 per cent) of the population is neurodivergent yet some 50 per cent of people don’t know they are neurodiverse. With such a large part of the population experiencing and interacting with the world around them in so many different ways, how can HR accommodate for the needs of neurodiverse employees?

Benefits of neurodiversity

Most companies already have neurodiverse staff, but 64 per cent of employers admit to having “little” or “no” understanding of the cognitive differences people may have. So, what are some of the benefits of neurodiversity in the workplace and why does it matter?

  1. Thinking differently: Because of having learned how to adapt to different situations, neurodivergent individuals know what their strengths and weaknesses are – a plus in the workplace.
  2. Strength of diversity: Research shows that teams with neurodivergent professionals in some roles can be 30 per cent more productive than those without them.
  3. Information absorption: Neurodiverse individuals have developed exceptional listening and visual learning skills which allow them to absorb extraordinary amounts of information and details.
  4. Innovation: The ability to think “outside of the box” brings invaluable innovation and productivity in the workplace – bringing a competitive edge to any business.
  5. Challenging norms: A different and honest feedback can be used to shake up the status quo and provide new perspectives for new ways of working or doing tasks.

Breaking down barriers

Unfortunately, there are often barriers to employment and in the recruitment process for neurodiverse people, so what can HR do to break down these barriers?

Firstly, HR must adopt a mindful approach to the different ways in which individuals work and communicate, and this starts with the hiring process. HR should cast a wider net, evaluate their screening criteria and reinvent interviews.

Secondly, HR should review induction and learning and development packages to incorporate different leaning styles. Offering quiet areas and allowing flexibility for break times as well rethinking desk location will help minimise distractions.

Setting up 1-on-1 meetings or setting up mentoring programmes will allow businesses to better understand the best ways to communicate with staff (verbal, visual and written formats), and allow neurodiverse talent to grow and succeed.

With only 22 per cent of autistic people in the UK reported in paid work, employers could benefit from this huge untapped pool of talent, and bridge the skills shortage gap in the Finance and Operations and Administration sectors.

Speak to us today to create an inclusive working environment and culture where neurodivergent individuals can thrive.