It is thought that Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) affects approximately 10% of the adult population, including many who don’t have a formal diagnosis.
What is ADHD?
ADHD is a neurological condition that impacts the parts of the brain that help us plan, focus on and execute tasks. Its name can be misleading, many argue it’s not an attention deficit but a difficulty in regulating attention. The NHS defines it as a condition that affects behaviour however ADDitude Magazine describes it much more widely, listing symptoms such as trouble managing time, impatience, disorganisation, forgetfulness, and mood swings.
ADHD can make it difficult for individuals with this condition to thrive in a traditional workplace environment. However, with a few adjustments, employers can support ADHD workers and create a more inclusive and productive workplace for all. In fact, there are some real strengths that come with having ADHD, creativity and great in a crisis to name just two. At the same time it does come with struggles and those struggles are real, when we provide adequate support we can help those in our team to work better and gain the benefits of their creative, out of the box thinking.
Many adults with ADHD were not diagnosed as children. They may know what they’ve struggled with but not understood why, often bringing shame and attempts to hide rather than seek help. Whilst things are getting better it’s a poorly understood condition even amongst those that have it. This makes it difficult to know where to start when it comes to putting in place reasonable adjustments. Here are some adjustments that could be made to support ADHD workers in the workplace, it’s not an exhaustive list and it’s always best to ask the individual but hopefully this list will help start the conversations:
One of the biggest challenges for individuals with ADHD is the need for a flexible work schedule. Employers can support those with ADHD by allowing flexible work hours, or by allowing them to work from home on occasion. This can help workers manage their symptoms by allowing them to take breaks when needed or work during the times of day when they are most productive.
ADHD can make it difficult for individuals to focus on verbal or multiple instructions. Employers can support people with ADHD by providing written instructions or by scheduling one-on-one meetings to review instructions and answer any questions.
Providing written agendas for meetings can help discussions stay on track and help those with ADHD to prepare effectively.
Feedback can be a challenge for someone with ADHD to receive, providing feedback in advance and in writing can help them to process the information before having a conversation. The same applies to interview questions, challenges with working memory and processing speed can make it difficult for someone with ADHD to give their best answer on the spot.
Administrative Support and Task Management Tools
ADHD can make it difficult to stay on track and prioritise tasks. Employers can support ADHD workers by providing task management tools such as project management software, to-do lists, or other organisational tools. These tools can help workers stay on top of their tasks and deadlines, reducing stress and increasing productivity, particularly when individuals can work with the tools that work for them.
Seemingly simple tasks can be the most challenging for ADHD brains, support with administrative tasks can make a huge difference to productivity - this could include looking at the strengths within the team and distributing based on strengths rather than equally to all.
Creating a supportive work environment is important for all employees, but it can be particularly beneficial for those with ADHD. Employers can support ADHD workers by recognising the needs of individuals to plan their own workstation and organise their work and time. Training managers and colleagues to understand ADHD and value neurodiversity can make a huge difference.
Regular check-ins can help those with ADHD stay on track and ensure that they are meeting their goals. Scheduling regular one-on-one meetings to discuss progress, provide feedback, and offer support as needed is helpful to productivity across your team, not just for those with ADHD.
Body doubling is having another person present with the person with ADHD to help keep them in the present, reduce distractions and make it easier to complete tasks which are otherwise challenging. This person may be doing the same task, a similar one or something different just being present. This is useful for helping an individual with ADHD to get through tasks which are boring or repetitive and where motivation is low.
Body doubling can be done both physically and virtually such as over video call.
Body doubling doesn’t work for everyone, it can have the opposite effect and provide a source of distraction, it’s therefore important the body double understands their role and both parties have agreed rather than simply believing if people are in the office they must automatically be body doubling.
ADHD coaching can help individuals with ADHD develop strategies for managing their symptoms and increasing their productivity. ADHD coaches can work with individuals to identify their strengths and weaknesses, set goals, and develop strategies for staying on track. By providing access to ADHD coaching, employers can help their employees with ADHD feel supported and empowered to succeed in the workplace. This can lead to increased job satisfaction, better retention rates, and a more productive workforce overall.
Employers may be able to get funding for ADHD coaching through the government access to work scheme.
In conclusion, by making a few simple adjustments, employers can create a more inclusive and productive workplace for individuals with ADHD. These adjustments not only benefit employees with ADHD but can also lead to a more productive and happier workforce overall. With the right support, individuals with ADHD can thrive in the workplace and contribute to the success of their team and their organisation.
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Article last updated: 22 January 2024
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