Four Ways Employers Can Support Neurodiversity at Work

With unemployment at historic lows, employers for the first time in history, have more jobs to fill than candidates to fill them. As a result, some companies are beginning to open their eyes to an untapped part of the labor market. That is those with neurodiversity.

Neurodiversity is a relatively new umbrella term that encompasses people who have dyslexia, autism, ADHD, dyspraxia and other neurological conditions. These are “spectrum” conditions, with a wide range of characteristics that range from the extreme severe cases to the very mild. However,  they all have common characteristics in terms of how people learn and process information.

  1. Recruitment – When recruiting neurodiverse individuals, it is best to avoid jargon and just keep the job description as simple as possible. Re-write your job descriptions to separate the “must have” and the “nice-to-have” skills and experience.

    Another part of the recruitment process is to consider the face-to-face interview may be a weakness for some neurodiverse individuals. For example, some may have difficulty making eye contact with an interviewer which can be misinterpreted if the interviewer is not properly trained to look for this. It has been a known fact that the job interview has been falling out of favor with some employers as being completely useless. Maybe doing away with the job interview would be in order for all types of job candidates. Redesign the job interview to be more of an entrance exam that can test individuals on their ability to do job tasks.

    Some employers already treat the job interview as an oral examination. The interview as an oral examination is where candidates are asked job related questions and a panel of subject matter experts evaluate the responses and scores the candidates in a number of critical dimensions (knowledge, skills and abilities).  Some county positions use this type of interview.  This would probably benefit neurodiverse individuals because of their laser focus and above average intellect that they exhibit.

  2. Performance – Underperformance is likely to arise with neurodiverse individuals. Many do not respond well to authority figures and they find themselves being disciplined and they don’t know why. Some people in authority positions feel that they are being disrespected when these types of individuals do not respond to their request in an appropriate manner. Depending on the severity of their disorder, they may simply lack the ability to communicate. Experts suggest not jumping to conclusions and just being patient. Take the time to study each individuals strengths and weaknesses and organize their work environment around one’s strengths. Some neurodiverse individuals who have an above average intellect, may have the ability to redesign their own work environment themselves to focus on their strengths. This advice should not just be limited to those with neurodiversity, but to all employees.
  3. Awareness – When it comes to neurodiversity, greater awareness can help. However, as noted in a previous article, knowing if or when to disclose your condition is key. Employers should be trained on the concept of neurodiversity and the neurological conditions that are associated with each disorder. Education is important to putting an end to bullying and discrimination in employment situations.
  4. Tailoring Support to Individuals – The potential benefits of having a neurodiverse workforce should not be overlooked. Some of these individuals because of their laser focus have exceptional creativity, critical thinking skills, and above average intellect, especially in the areas of math and science. These types of individuals can bring a different perspective to the job once the job tasks are mastered.

All employers can benefit from creating a more harmonious workplace by minimizing the weaknesses that all of their employees face. These types of employers will be at a distinct competitive advantage as a result of the innovative thinking that will take place. Any business without innovation is a boring place to be at.

Leave a Reply