Supporting 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.
On this page, we explore what you can do to empower neurodiversity in the workplace.
Organizations must create a workplace that welcomes neurodiversity, and allows employees to work and achieve in their own way. That means adjusting the workplace to suit the needs of diverse thinkers. As you continue reading, you'll uncover advice to help you empower neurodivergent employees at work.
- What is dyslexia?
- What is dyspraxia?
- What is ADHD?
- What is autism?
- What are executive functioning challenges?
Dyslexia is a language processing difficulty associated with challenges in literacy, information-processing, and maintaining focus. People with dyslexia may struggle with reading, writing, spelling, and proofreading, as well as organizing details and concentrating in the presence of background noise. However, dyslexia also brings strengths such as pattern recognition, problem-solving skills, and strong verbal communication abilities.
Discover more in our guide to supporting dyslexic employees and hear about the experiences of dyslexic thinkers in these podcast episodes:
Guide for employers: Neurodiversity in the workplace
In this handy guide, discover more 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 to create a diverse and inclusive workplace culture
- Find out how you can support neurodivergent employees
Whilst proactively educating yourself on as many neurodiverse conditions is great, it's vital to create an inclusive workplace culture. That means, a workplace where employees feel comfortable and confident to discuss challenges and be themselves.
We want to do better. Help us to improve.
We have used the term 'neurodiverse conditions' to provide context to existing diagnostic labels. A neurodivergent employee may disclose a diagnostic condition to access workplace adjustments. However, we realize that this term may not be preferred by everyone. At Texthelp, using language that's inclusive and respectful to all people is important to us. Please let us know if you feel we could do better in the terminology we have chosen to use.
Creating a diverse and inclusive workplace
As humans, we all want to feel like we belong. Creating a culture that makes everyone feel welcomed, accepted, understood and celebrated matters. For this to happen, employers must be flexible, and willing to adapt the workplace to suit individual needs.
As with all forms of diversity, neurodiversity must be considered.
That means employers are missing out on some simple but effective adjustments they could make to recruit and retain members of the neurodivergent community. Organizations that welcome neurodiverse teams benefit from a workforce of different thinkers. That brings benefits including creativity, innovation, productivity and more.
Why should organizations take neuro-inclusion seriously?
Companies that champion neuro-inclusion unlock the full potential of their workforce, tap into a wider talent pool and drive sustained business success. In fact, these companies report: 30% higher economic profit margins, 28% higher revenue & 2x the net income.
“If companies are not neurodivergent friendly, they’re going to lose out on creativity, new ideas, and lose out on ways to grow their company. Essentially, they’re going to be left behind”
- Peter Shankman, Founder & CEO
An inclusive culture welcomes neurodiversity in all its forms
So far, we've talked about a few different types of neurodiversity (Autism, ADHD, dyspraxia and dyslexia), that are considered as being developmental. That means, neurodivergent traits are present from birth but develop in childhood and adolescence. However neurodivergence can also be acquired, for example as a result of a brain-altering experience.
In the US, acquired brain trauma is the second most prevalent disability. 2.5 million people sustain a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) every year. As a result, over 80,000 people will experience the onset of a long-term disability. As an organization, it’s important to be ready to support your employees through life’s events, and be prepared to help them adjust to their new way of working and living. Creating a fair and inclusive culture can help you to be more prepared.
Case study: an example from the Met Police
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. The Metropolitan Police are working to adapt their diversity and inclusion strategies to better support neurodivergent employees, and those with disabilities. Hear what they're doing, and gain ideas and advice to take back to your own organization.
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. Explore common workplace challenges experienced by those with dyslexia, dyspraxia, autism & ADHD. Gain expert advice on how to help neurodivergent 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 neurodivergent 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.
This includes people with a diagnosed neurodiverse condition. 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 neurodivergent 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 workforce.
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 provides support to all 38,000 employees
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.
Supporting employees through life events
83% of people with a disability acquired their disability later in life, whether due to an accident, illness or genetic condition. Nikki Goode, an employee with acquired brain injury, shares how her organization supported her return to work. She also explains how assistive technology has been fundamental to her in the process.
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.
Supports people who think, learn and work differently. Helps neurodiverse workforces to thrive.
Supporting employees with autism
Employees with autism can face certain challenges at work, but with the right accommodations in place, they can thrive and bring unique benefits to a business. Discover how.
Supporting dyslexic employees
Learn how to support dyslexic employees and bring significant competitive advantages to your business.
Supporting employees with ADHD
Discover how to create an inclusive workplace that supports employees with ADHD and unlocks the strengths that these employees can bring.
Supporting employees with dyspraxia
Learn how to support employees with dyspraxia in the workplace and discover what competitive advantages they can bring to a business.
Supporting employees with executive functioning challenges
Learn about the effects of struggling with executive function at work, and discover how we can support employees through these difficulties so they can bring their full selves to work.