Let’s face it, traditional societal norms can make neurodivergent people feel like total outsiders. From school, we are encouraged to fit our unique brains into standardised boxes, and this mentality has unfortunately continued into the workplace. For example, autism in the workplace has historically not been supported, meaning that autistic people have struggled to find and keep a job due to lack of understanding (National Autistic Society).
Nowadays neurodiversity is, dare I say, cool? It seems like everyone and their neighbour's dog is “coming out” as an ADHDer. Dopamine chasing is definitely more popular as the humans are increasingly hypnotised by technology. Therefore some could argue that ADHD is a consequence of a society constantly on the lookout for the next distraction and hit of a viral trend. No matter the cause, companies are being rightfully pressured to embrace individuality, including diverse brains!
Hidden Gems Of Neurodiversity
The advantages of a neurodiverse workforce are as diverse as the individuals themselves. Neurodivergent individuals possess talents and abilities that are frequently overlooked, but which have the potential to propel projects, boost your profit margins, and inject fresh excitement into the workplace.
For years, the neurodiverse has dealt with rejection, ostracization, being weighed down by the overwhelm of trying to live up to neurotypical standards. But finally, our time has arrived!
Creativity, innovative thinking, and curiosity are just some of the superpowers of the neurodiverse. Neurodivergent employees can utilise their different cognitive styles, meaning they can approach problems from inventive perspectives, empowering your other team members to do the same.
Laying The Foundation For A Neuroinclusive Workplace
The vastness of neurodiversity makes it too complex for a one-size-fits-all solution. ADHD workplace adjustments will differ from autism workplace adjustments, for example. Recognizing the individuality of each person and fostering an environment of flexibility and open dialogue is essential in cultivating a truly neuro-inclusive work culture.
Your HR department could consider the following ideas:
- Create processes that accommodate diverse work styles, making them suitable and adaptable
- Build comprehensive policies where neurodivergence is protected from discrimination
- Organise neuro-inclusive events with sensory-friendly spaces, clear information in advance, and regular breaks
- Provide training to employees on neurodiversity in the workplace
Neurodivergent employees have likely spent a lot of their lives stressed trying to meet neurotypical standards, so let them breathe, accommodate their needs where possible, and watch the magic unfold!
Starting A Conversation With Your Manager
Disclosing information about your neurodiversity is a personal choice, and this may feel daunting initially, but starting a conversation with your manager can pave the way for reaching your full potential at work.
Here are some tips to consider:
- Prepare - before meeting, note down your challenges, how they impact your work, and think through reasonable adjustments you need
- Choose the right method - this could be a conversation in a weekly catch-up, over email or however you feel most comfortable articulating your thoughts clearly
- Examine situations with your manager - looking at work task-to-task could help them understand where you are having issues, and how to support you
- Brainstorm ideas - checklists, sticky notes, cheatsheets of high-priority tasks, timers. Small additions like this can make so much difference to a neurodivergent workday
- Ask for reasonable adjustments - this could be a distraction-free workspace, noise-canceling headphones, or flexible working times
Whether you struggle with prioritising, transitioning between tasks, or noise in the office; there are ideas that can be tried, tested, and reviewed until you find solutions that work for you.
Supporting Your Neurodivergent Colleagues
Bringing to life a neuro-inclusive workforce relies on all employees to support diverse thinking and behaviour. Neurodivergents may absorb information differently, their energy may fluctuate, they may struggle with eye contact, or face moments of overwhelm.
Neurotypical employees can support neurodivergent colleagues by:
- Offering clarification - repeat the important information that they may have filtered out, or send a roundup email of a meeting
- Allowing for mistakes - help neurodivergents feel safe in the knowledge that they can breathe easy, be themselves, and if they slip up, it is ok to do so
- Showing empathy - be curious and show a willingness to learn about their challenges. Don’t assume, listen and ask questions
The Neurodiverse-Friendly Future
In our ever-changing world, continuous reflection on diversity and inclusion strategies is essential. It leads to increased understanding and compassion for the neurodiverse community. Let us celebrate the beauty of diversity and unconventional thinking, shaping workspaces that not only support but truly empower every individual to thrive.
About the Creator
Writing helps me dump the art that lives amongst the party of my mind.
Writing helps me share the lessons I've learned from being a human.
Writing helps me try and make sense of life which I am finding to be an endless adventure!