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Neurodiversity in the workplace

Just like life outside, the workplace is a hugely diverse environment. We’re all unique with our own life experiences and personal preferences. They shape how we like to work and get things done. Our differences are the reason great things happen in the workplace. And, as we celebrate the strengths that diversity can bring, we must also be proactive in our support.

Neurodiversity is one form of diversity in the workplace. Some neurodiverse employees may need some extra support at work.

On this page, we explore what you can do to empower neurodiverse employees. You'll learn how best to offer support, and help those with neurodiverse conditions achieve their best.

What you'll find:

What is Neurodiversity?

Neurodiversity is the term used to describe natural variations in the human brain. It relates to differences in the way we think, process, learn and behave. Most people are neurotypical meaning that the brain functions and processes in the way that society expects. Yet 1 in 7 people are neurodiverse meaning they have unique traits. These are characterized as neurodiverse conditions.

Neurodiverse conditions are developmental. That means they are present at birth, but traits develop in childhood and adolescence. Examples of neurodiverse conditions include ADHD, Autism, Dyspraxia, Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, Dysgraphia, and Tourette's syndrome.

What are the most common neurodiverse conditions in the workplace?

Of the global adult population 10% are dyslexic, 5% are dyspraxic, 4% have ADHD, and 1-2% are Autistic. Neurodiversities are grouped into diagnostic conditions to help others understand the challenges that individuals may experience. But every individual will have a different experience, even if they have the same neurodiverse condition.

We've identified some common characteristics to help give you some awareness. It's important to get to know your employees on an individual basis. That way, you'll find out more about their personal experience.

  • What is ADHD?
  • What is Autism?
  • What is Dyslexia?
  • What is Dyspraxia?

ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is a behavioral condition. It affects the ability to control attention, impulse and concentration. People with ADHD may experience hyperactivity and impulsiveness. They might become easily distracted and prone to being restless or fidgeting. And, they may find it difficult to maintain their focus.

People with ADHD also have many associated strengths. Proactiveness and the ability to work well under pressure are a couple. Creative and holistic thinking is another. People with ADHD often make great leaders because they're resilient. They're often able to push past setbacks and adapt new strategies to pursue their goals. Hyperfocus is also associated with ADHD. Individuals that experience hyperfocus are driven by their interests. They're able to focus with deep concentration and energetic drive.

Later, we'll explore how you can support employees with ADHD to achieve their best.

Guide for employers: Neurodiversity in the workplace

In this handy guide you'll find all you need to know about neurodiversity in the workplace. Download today for free and;

  • Gain more insight into neurodiverse conditions
  • Discover the benefits neurodiversity can bring to your organization
  • Explore how you can create an inclusive workplace culture
  • Find out how you can support neurodiverse employees

Creating an inclusive culture

Supporting people with neurodiverse conditions in the workplace requires flexibility. Employers must be willing to adapt the workplace to suit the individual needs of each employee. For this to happen, employers must work to create an inclusive culture. A culture where neurodiversity is accepted, understood, and celebrated!

Just 1 in 10 organizations say that they consider neurodiversity in their people management practices. Working with people with disabilities requires thought and consideration. Creating inclusive recruitment and retainment processes means ensuring equal opportunities for all. Gaining an understanding of how your employees perceive the company culture is a good place to start. It’ll help inform you of what steps you need to take to become more inclusive.

Case study: an example from the Met Police

The Metropolitan Police are working to adapt their diversity and inclusion strategies to better support employees with disabilities. Hear what they're doing, and gain ideas and advice to take back to your own organization.

Empowering neurodiverse employees

Managing disability in the workplace means creating a diverse workforce. Not only is embracing neurodiversity the right thing to do, it’s also good for business! People with neurodiverse conditions think differently. They bring unique perspectives and strengthen the success of projects and tasks.

Below, we’ll explore the strengths associated with neurodiverse conditions. We'll also identify how you can support neurodiverse employees, and create an environment which helps them to thrive.

  • Supporting employees with ADHD to achieve their best
  • Empowering people with Autism at work
  • Encouraging success for people with Dyslexia at work
  • Helping employees with Dyspraxia to succeed

Supporting employees with ADHD to achieve their best means to overcome any challenges. These can include difficulty organizing and managing tasks. Maintaining focus throughout the day is another common challenge.

Start by asking the employee if they need any extra support. Then discuss what adjustments would benefit them. We’ve provided some examples of simple adjustments below. It might help you to kick start the conversation:

  • Discuss what visual prompts would help aid attentiveness. For example a wall chart, checklist, clock or timer

  • Explore the best method for task instruction. This could include written instructions rather than verbal

  • Adjust tasks to those which suit the individual. For example those that provide structure and stimulate the mind

  • Allow regular breaks and the opportunity for movement throughout the day

  • Offer the opportunity for regular one to one conversations. This can be with a line manager, or neurodiversity champion. The goal is to ensure support as often as required

  • Allow the use noise cancelling headphones to help block out distractions

  • Provide time-management software to help them prioritize tasks and plan daily activities

  • Offer assistive technology software. This enables them to work in a way that suits them best, and supports task completion

Video series: supporting neurodiversity at work

We've joined forces with Lexxic, an occupational psychology consultancy, to help you support neurodiversity and inclusion at work.

In this video series, we help you to gain a better understanding of neurodiversity. We uncover four neurodiverse conditions, and explore common workplace challenges. And, you'll gain expert advice on how to help neurodiverse employees overcome these.

Digital inclusion in the workplace

In today’s world, offices are becoming increasingly digital. In fact, 95% of organizations agree that a digital workplace is important. With technology having an important role, there's a need to think about digital inclusion in the workplace.

Not every employee reaps the benefits that digital technology can bring to their working day.

For example, 59% of companies provide the apps workers want and need, but don’t make them easily accessible. That means 24/7 access, and compatibility across every device. But accessibility issues can come in other forms too.

Within the digital workplace, we're jumping between many platforms, browsers and devices. We’re accessing everything from emails to web pages and PDFs. Most of the information we’re consuming is in the written format. And, we’re responding with typed communication. This doesn’t suit everybody.

That’s where assistive technology comes in.

What is assistive technology?

Assistive technology describes any device, software, or equipment that supports people with disabilities. It improves their ability to do things in everyday life. They can assist with a range of difficulties, including mobility, memory, communication and literacy challenges.

Assistive technology examples include:

  • Low vision assistive technology such as screen readers and speech recognition software
  • Assistive reading devices including text to speech software and digital reading guides
  • Memory aids such as digital recorders and digital timers
  • Literacy support including electronic spell checkers and word prediction 

Workplace assistive technology

Within the workplace, assistive technology can come in the form of built-in accessibility features. These are contained in a lot of the popular programs used across organizations. However, going above and beyond, workplace assistive technology includes Saas software like Read&Write for Work.

On average, organizations use 16 SaaS applications. SaaS applications include Slack, Office 365 and Zendesk. They help to keep track of projects, communicate with stakeholders, and manage their customer base. But what about empowering the workforce?

Organizations who invest in the right tools for their staff see an increase in productivity, morale and retention. Read&Write is a literacy and productivity software. It helps employees to work in a way that suits them best. Employees can change the format of their digital documents. They can communicate in their preferred way. And, they gain access to accessibility features including text-to-speech and talk & type dictation.

Preventing disability discrimination at work

Making sure neurodiverse employees have what they need to thrive is the right thing to do. Being as supportive as we can also helps prevent disability discrimination at work.

Disability employment law protects people with disabilities in the workplace. It helps to make sure everyone has an equal opportunity to start and stay in work. And puts the onus on employers to make it a priority. Disability legislation such as the Rehabilitation Act, the Americans with Disability Act and the Canadian Human Rights Act protects employees and job applicants.

Protecting disabled workers rights requires action across recruitment, onboarding, and retainment processes. This includes reasonable adjustments which help staff overcome disadvantage resulting from their disability.

If you've got questions, check out our blog on commonly asked FAQs.

Webinar: Supporting neurodiverse employees

In this recorded webinar, find out all you need to know about navigating employment law.

You’ll also hear from one organization, on how they've created a more inclusive workplace. Gain insight into their new workplace adjustments policy, developed for a diverse staff.

Achieving inclusive leadership

Do you know what it means to be an inclusive leader in today's workplace?

In our recorded webinar session, we explore this topic and more. Listen and gain practical advice from three inclusive organizations, EW Group, Department for Transport, and Texthelp.

Case studies - Neurodiversity in the workplace in action

Hear from different organizations on their experiences of neurodiversity in the workplace. Each case study demonstrates how assistive technology software, Read&Write, supports employees with neurodiversity at work.

Network Rail

Employing over 38,000 staff, Network Rail delivers a safe, reliable railway for 4.5 million people and businesses every day. Access and inclusion for customers, partners and staff are ingrained throughout their policies and practices.

Foreign & Commonwealth Office

It's our responsibility to make sure every employee can perform to the best of their abilities...Read&Write for Work delivers the best outcome for all staff.

Working remotely?

Check out our 7 top tips for supporting neurodiverse employees working from home

Provide support with our literacy & productivity software

A discreet toolbar, Read&Write for Work helps everyone to work smarter, more efficiently and more confidently than ever before.

Drive diversity and inclusion in your workplace. Attract, retain and nurture employees of all capabilities.