Just like life outside of work, the workplace is a hugely diverse environment. Everyone has unique life experiences and personal preferences that shape who they are. We each have our own strengths and benefit the workplace in our own way.
Many organizations welcome diversity. However, there is much more that can be done to create a company culture that welcomes employees for who they are and celebrates what they bring to the company.
Neurodiversity in the Workplace
One of the groups of people that makes up the diverse population in the workplace is neurodivergent individuals. Neurodiversity is a term used to describe the different ways people think, learn, perceive the world, interact and process information. Globally, one in five people is neurodivergent meaning their brain functions differently in one or more ways than what is considered “standard” or “typical.”
To any workplace, these individuals bring unique perspectives, creative solutions and more. When they’re empowered to communicate, learn and work in their own way, they can better harness their unique skills. Inclusive technology helps by providing tools that allow them to understand and be understood in the way that suits them best. In education, many neurodivergent individuals receive such tools, but this isn’t always the case in the world of work. In a recent survey conducted by Texthelp, 64% of neurodivergent respondents said they felt their organization could be doing more to support neurodiversity in the workplace, with one example being that employers could provide accessibility tools that remove barriers and support employees’ diverse needs.
There’s a lot we can do to make the workplace a more inclusive place for everyone. Often, small changes lead to big impact for neurodiversity inclusion.
Below, discover five ways employers can support neurodivergent employees through training and additional methods of support.
1. Create More Awareness and Training About Neurodiversity
Providing neurodiversity awareness training to your employees can improve their understanding of what it means to be neurodivergent and the added value neurodivergent colleagues can bring to the workplace. It also offers the chance to educate your employees on how they can support their neurodivergent colleagues.
2. Develop Support Networks for Neurodivergent Employees
Support networks, such as employee resource groups (ERGs), allow employees to form their own specialized communities. Neurodiversity networks create a time and space for neurodivergent employees to connect with and learn from others with similar experiences. Additionally, when these groups are empowered to work alongside human resources (HR), learning and development (L&D) and diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) teams to influence change, they can help employees to feel heard and truly valued.
3. Be Proactive and Have Empathy
It’s critical to have a neurodivergence strategy in place as part of your business plan. Being proactive can avoid any sudden issues arising when a neurodivergent employee joins the company. It’s also important to showcase your inclusion policies or commitment to inclusive practices up front — starting with the position and company descriptions in job postings. If a neurodivergent individual is applying to a position within your company, they will want to ensure you have practices in place which create a safe work environment.
Additionally, all employers and employees need to have empathy. All employees think and learn differently, and organizations should provide proper accommodations in order to create a truly inclusive workplace.
4. Create an Inclusive Environment
Many people don’t want to admit that they need extra support. Inclusive technology tools, with features like speech-to-text, read aloud and predictive text have proven to be useful for individuals with neurodiverse conditions. Employers should provide all workers with accesses to inclusive tools, technology and support so that neurodivergent employees do not feel obligated to disclose their diagnosis.
5. Make Sure the Hiring Process is Inclusive, Too
Recruitment and onboarding processes must be inclusive, too. Provide training to help your HR team and hiring managers improve the way they write job descriptions, structure interviews and train new hires. This will go a long way in hiring neurodivergent people and supporting them right from the start. Having staff that consists of neurodivergent people can help in recruiting other candidates. It reassures them your organization prioritizes inclusion.
An organization’s greatest asset is its people. As the workforce continues to evolve, it is essential to embrace all individuals, regardless of their differences. These best practices bring a sense of belonging to the workplace and improve equity and inclusion for all.