Supporting neurodiversity in the changing world of work
In this Q&A session, we hear from Aidan Healy, CEO of Lexxic, on supporting neurodiversity in today’s evolving workplace. We were also joined by Aidan to explore this topic further in our recent webinar.
What is neurodiversity and how common is it in work?
Neurodiversity is an umbrella term which includes people who have Dyslexia, Dyspraxia (DCD), Dyscalculia, Autism and ADHD. For me, neurodiversity represents a world where these different styles of thinking are respected and empowered, not seen as deficits or disorders.
Approximately 15% of the population of the UK have a neurodifference - representing a significant proportion of existing staff, job applicants and customers.
What benefit does a neurodiverse workforce bring to an organization?
Different types of neurodifferences have different strengths. But in general, I would say;
- People who think differently avoid ‘groupthink’ in an organization
- An ability to see the big picture and the ability to think outside the box
- Enhanced productivity in teams
- Loyalty and commitment to your organization
What are the first steps an organization can take to create a more inclusive culture?
I think if any organization is looking to attract and retain diverse talent, they have to start by considering their culture and environment. Take some time to be clear on your approach. For example;
- Do you have a neurodiversity statement?
- Is there an employee resource group or forum where people can share their experiences?
- What are your processes for supporting people with neurodifferences?
What approach can line managers take to provide support to neurodivergent individuals – especially if these conditions are hidden?
An important first step would be to take time to learn about the different types of neurodifferences. This can relieve a lot of stress and uncertainty on both sides, and dispel any myths associated with different neurodiversities.
Next, I would say to educate yourself and your management teams about the common reasonable adjustments available to people with neurodifferences. This way, regardless of disclosure, you can still offer support and guidance for an individual.
Finally, share your organization's support services or neurodiversity initiatives with your teams. Create time and space for open conversations around neurodiversity. Role modeling plays an important part here. If you are comfortable talking about neurodifferences as a manager, it will empower your team to have a conversation or share their stories.
What initiatives or technologies have you seen businesses implement and have you seen any direct successes as a result?
I think technology provides many exciting opportunities to support individuals and drive change in organizations. One of the big shifts we have seen in recent years in our clients is moving the conversation from adjustments based on an individual's disclosing, to making adjustments accessible to all.
For example, are people with dyslexia the only ones who can face challenges with reading and writing? Or prefer processing a document through speech/audio instead of text?
By making adjustments accessible to all, organizations can take big steps in reducing stigma many people with neurodifferences feel in reaching out for support. This leads to significant improvement in employee performance, retention and well-being.
Hear more from Aidan in our recorded webinar session on supporting neurodiversity in an evolving workspace. You’ll also hear from Stuart Blair, Workplace Product Manager at Texthelp, and Taljinder, an inclusive technology user with dyslexia.