In this blog post, we'll be writing about managing neurodiverse employees. In particular, discovering "Neurodiversity" and the idea of viewing neurological differences as assets to be cultivated.
Neurodiversity should not be seen as inherently "bad" or problematic. Instead, there should be a focus on the many different ways that people's neurological differences make the workplace better.
Introduction to Managing Neurodiverse Employees
The term neurodiversity is a way of describing differences in the human brain. These differences can include autism, ADHD, dyslexia, dyspraxia and more. Neurodiversity is not a disorder. It’s just an inherent difference in the way that someone’s brain works.
Neurodiversity is the diversity of the human brain. It is a term that has been around for a few decades now, but it has only recently gained traction in the workplace. They may have different cognitive and learning styles than others, but these differences can be beneficial to employers and employees alike.
The most important part of managing neurodiverse employees is to understand that they might have different needs than other employees. This means that they may need more time to complete tasks or work in a different environment with fewer distractions or be allowed to work from home occasionally.
Understanding what makes an individual neurodiverse
Neurodiversity is the idea that it's normal for people to have different cognitive processes. Rather than seeing this as problematic, we should view such differences from a more positive perspective.
The concept of neurodiversity recognizes that it's not just what you can do, but also how your brain functions. Many people have unusual habits or skills and this is simply a reflection of people being diverse.
It is important to note that neurodiversity does not mean having a mental illness. It means being different in the way one thinks and processes information.
Why is neurodiversity becoming desirable in the workplace?
Neurodiversity is the idea that there are many different ways to think, learn, and be creative.
This idea is being applied to the workplace and it has many benefits. It can help with creativity, innovation, and problem-solving skills. Neurodiverse employees are also more likely to be open-minded and flexible which can make them a better fit for new challenges in a company.
As Jared Lindzon's article in Fast Company reports, over 75% of staff at this successful IT company are on the autism spectrum.
There are many benefits to having neurodiverse employees in the workplace. This includes creativity, problem-solving skills, innovation, and adaptability.
Neurodiversity in the workplace causes and effects
Neurodiverse employees are not a new phenomenon in the workplace. They have existed for centuries and have been working in various fields. However, as the world becomes more technologically advanced, there is an increased need for neurodiverse employees who have unique skill sets that can help solve problems in a different way.
The benefits of neurodiversity in the workplace
Some of these skill sets include heightened sensitivity to sound, visual acuity, spatial awareness, and heightened processing speed. These skills are especially useful when it comes to jobs such as software engineering or data entry which require precision with an intense focus on detail.
In the workplace, neurodiverse employees are more likely to be open-minded and flexible.
They are also more likely to be creative and adaptable than their neurotypical counterparts. Neurodiverse employees are not just beneficial for themselves but also for the company they work at.
Some of the benefits of hiring neurodiverse employees include:
- They have a better understanding of how people learn
- A better understanding of how people think
- Are more creative and adaptive
- Increased productivity and focus
The causes of neurodiversity on the individual.
The causes of neurodiversity can be genetic or environmental factors. Neurodiversity can benefit the workplace in various ways such as creativity, innovation, and problem-solving skills.
How can we structure interviews to suit neurodiverse candidates?
Here we explore the ways in which neurodiversity can improve the workplace by changing how we think about talent and performance.
Employers should be aware of their own biases when hiring for positions that require an understanding of neurodiverse employees. They should also be aware of the needs of these employees and provide them with accommodations so that they can work at their best.
The interview structure:
Neurodiverse candidates often find it difficult to answer interview questions and Q&A style interviews. When interviewing, you should focus on skills tests that can give you a lot of insight into their true capabilities. — especially since neurodiverse employees might not have a lot of work experience, so they can be less confident in these types of interviews.
Take away personality tests
It’s important to recognise that personality tests help recruiters understand the candidates’ character and give them insight into what it will be to work with them. However, neurodivergent individuals may find personality tests difficult.
How neurodiversity challenges traditional views on talent and performance
Leverage skills tests during the interview process. As Jared Lindzon reports in the Fast Company article “75% of staff at this successful IT company are on the autism spectrum,” neurodiverse candidates often find Q&A interviews challenging. Focusing on skills tests instead can give you better insight into their true capabilities — especially since neurodiverse employees might not have a lot of work experience and therefore may not have extensive résumés.
Recognising and respecting the needs of neurodiverse individuals in our workplaces
The key to success is knowing what accommodations your neurodiverse employee needs and then working with them to find solutions together.No two neurodiverse individuals will be the same. Therefore it makes accommodating them using one blanket solution difficult.
The best way to recognise and respect neurodiverse employees' needs is to actually sit and ask them.
- Find out what they find challenging
- Find out where their strengths lie
From here you can accommodate their individual needs to get the best performance from them.
Some solutions for managing neurodiverse employees
There are many ways that employers can accommodate neurodiverse employees in the workplace such as:
- Providing flexible hours.
- Giving break time throughout the day.
- Using alternative methods of communication like Skype or FaceTime instead of phone calls or meetings in person.
- Working in smaller teams.
- Provide a quiet work environment.
- Educate your neurotypical employees on how best to communicate and work with their neurodiverse colleagues.
- Always give clear instructions - don't be vague.
- If an autistic employee makes a social mistake, take them aside privately and directly explain what they did wrong.
- For tasks with many steps, provide a checklist.
Obviously, some of these tips won’t apply, but they may help some individuals.
Effective tools for accommodating neurodiverse employees & their unique needs
As the world becomes more global and diverse, it is important for companies to be more inclusive of different people. In order to do this, they need to be equipped with the right tools to accommodate neurodiverse employees.
One such tool is the Neurodiversity at Work website, which provides a list of accommodations for neurodiverse employees. This list includes a variety of items that can be used to help these individuals, including items such as:
- private space for meetings
- visual schedule for days/weeks
- quiet room for breaks
- sensory kit with noise-cancelling headphones and calming gadgets
People with neurodiverse characteristics and skills bring a breadth of expertise to the workforce that makes them an invaluable asset. Some of the benefits to these groups are creativity, uniqueness in work, ability to think laterally, consistency in tasks and developing highly specialised skills.
Recognising diversity within the workforce can be a great asset if done properly.
Gathering constructive feedback and listening to what employees have to say is essential to understanding how employees feel. Doing so will provide you with the insight and data required to create a roadmap that leads to positive change.
The simplest way to include neurodiverse employees is through specially designed recruitment and selection strategies. These ensure their talents are celebrated and their comfort level increased. This will help them contribute better, reach their full potential, and stay on for the long haul.
We hope you enjoyed our post on managing neurodiverse employees. By applying some of the techniques and tips talked about above you can gain a more inclusive work environment. Harnessing the positive traits of neurodiverse individuals. For more blog posts like, this take a look at Well-being in the workplace ideas.