How We Can Support Neurodivergent Employees

from Silk Helix
Photograph of Jenefer Livings, Founder of Silk Helix Ltd
6 October 2023
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Neurodivergent is a term used to refer to the variation in the human brain and how people process information, it includes people who have neurological differences such as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Dyslexia and many more. These individuals have unique strengths and abilities, they contribute significantly to the workplace when in the right environment or with the right support and adjustments.

However, despite the strengths of those with neurodivergent conditions, many struggle to find and maintain employment due to a lack of understanding and adjustments in the workplace.

Employers can support and embrace neurodiversity in the workplace by creating a welcoming and inclusive environment that accommodates the diverse needs of their employees, and in turn, benefit from the skills and talents of neurodivergent individuals.

What can employers do to provide support?

How we support neurodivergent employees varies from individual to individual, therefore the best support is to ask the individual what they need. However, here are some examples of adjustments that could be made:

  • Enable movement breaks
  • Organise work to allow focused time, minimising context switching
  • “Do not disturb” signs or closed doors for periods of time to allow for undisturbed concentration - possible with a timer to encourage concentration and a movement break at the end
  • Recognising the value of working from home for some to minimise sensory issues of a busy office whilst others will benefit from being in an office.
  • Standing desks to allow for movement at the desk
  • Stress balls or fidget toys
  • Technical resources like dictation, voice notes, spelling and grammar support
  • Providing instructions in written form, especially when there are multiple instructions or giving instructions one at a time
  • Enable people to use planners in the way that best suits their needs to help them manage their time and workloads

Remember that the adjustment needed for one person may cause challenges for another person, for example if one person needs to pace up and down this could be a distraction to a colleague. Finding ways to provide for both to have their needs met with ensure everyone is at their most productive.

Training and education is important to help people understand what neurodiversity is and increase understanding and empathy, for example recognising that eye contact and body language may be different to expected. When we understand we’re better placed to work to people’s strengths. Neurodivergant people are often very creative and good problem solvers, organise work to get to the best out of all your team.

Neurodivergence is a disability as defined by The Equality Act 2010, therefore reasonable adjustments must be made when needed. Discuss with individuals what adjustments they need to help them perform their role. Many of the adjustments needed are low or no cost, they simply require thinking differently, it is therefore unlikely the adjustments needed will not be considered reasonable - although this does depend on the circumstances of each individual, their role and the organisation.

By embracing neurodiversity, employers can unlock the potential of a diverse workforce and achieve greater success in their business. By providing training and education, offering reasonable adjustments and creating a supportive culture we can create a more inclusive work environment that benefits all employees.

While this guide covers the basics, every situation has its own complexities so you should always seek professional advice.
We can help, so book a Free Advice Call .

Article last updated: 6 October 2023

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