I was recently invited to co-host an HR Future Leaders Seminar in Leeds, organised by Irwin Mitchell Solicitors and Elevation Recruitment Group, on Neurodiversity in the Workplace, which is becoming an increasingly popular topic within HR.
What Is Neurodiversity?
Neurodiversity refers to people with genetic differences such as Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, ADHD, Tourettes and various forms of Autism such as Aspergers.
Neurodivergent people are not unwell; neither do they have a syndrome; it is a difference. But it is a difference that can leave people more susceptible to mental ill-health, which can be created or heightened by inadequate working environments.
It’s estimated that 1 in 7 people in the UK is neurodivergent, inferring their brain functions, learns and processes information differently than others.
Neurodiversity In The Workplace
A survey conducted by the CIPD in 2018 discovered that 10% of HR professionals in the UK acknowledged Neurodiversity in their organisation’s employee management systems. Alarmingly, 72% said Neurodiversity wasn’t included.
A growing number of prominent companies in the USA have reformed their HR processes to access neurodiverse talent; among them are SAP, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Microsoft and Ford.
Managers at SAP say that it is already paying off in ways far beyond reputational enhancement. Including productivity gains, quality improvement boosts in innovative capabilities and significant increases in employee engagement.
Companies have a legal obligation to undertake ‘reasonable adjustments’ to the workplace and the employee’s role that will remove or minimise any disadvantage to them.
The Equality Act 2010 protects individuals against disability discrimination for issues often referred to as ‘hidden disabilities’.
The more common difficulties associated with neurodiverse conditions in the workplace can include, time management, planning and prioritising, organisation, getting distracted by background music, poor working memory (the ability to hold multiple things in your attention at one time). These very often cause stress, and it might be stress that brings them to your attention.
Concentration, excess stress, issues with timekeeping, maintaining a schedule and physical illness are all conditions covered under the term neurodiversity.
Some thrive in a working environment and build resilience towards the difficulties they face, whereas others may struggle to complete specific tasks because of their condition.
In these instances, disclosing these challenges to an employer can allow them to support an individual in the workplace.
- 24% of the UK prison population has ADHD
- 16% of people in the UK with Autism have a job
- 1% of corporate managers have dyslexia compared to a population norm of 10%
How Can I Help?
- Ask questions to find out how best to help and support your neurodiverse employees. Everyone with a neurodiverse condition is different, and they often have particular strengths
- Assess the working environment
- Implement a wellbeing policy
- Train managers and team leaders how to recognise and spot signs and symptoms
- Identify employees with neurological variances whom frequently suffer from mental health issues, including stress, anxiety and depression
- Ensure that you contribute towards creating an accepting and nurturing working environment
- Provide an environment which encourages employees to disclose any neurological condition
- Awareness-raising sessions that can help manage your sickness absence rates and improve line management skills, both of which can, in turn, lead to increased productivity
- Appoint a buddy or mentor
- Review the employee life cycle and journey
SAP’s neurodiversity program forced managers to get to know their employees and become better managers. Managers also began thinking more deeply about leveraging the talents of all employees through greater sensitivity to individual needs.
We understand that the situations of stress-related absence are on the increase in the working environment.
When this occurs, try and discover if the employee has a neurodiverse condition. Be sympathetic; they may often not know themselves or be embarrassed to talk.
Access to work grants is a pot of government funding support based on your needs, for reasonable adjustments to be carried out. To assist with covering the cost of adequate support in the workplace or getting to and from work. Also, software to translate speech into text and vice versa, life coaching to develop coping strategies to help employees better manage their condition.
If you’re considering raising awareness in neurodiversity, mental health at work, or health and wellbeing in the workplace, please get in touch and book your FREE 40-minute consultation.
Telephone Sheffield, 0114 327 2683 or email firstname.lastname@example.org