How to Support Neurodivergent Employees in the Workplace
Neurodiversity has become a buzzword in recent years, with much more awareness than in previous years. Nonetheless, much work remains to be done in this area. According to one study, despite the fact that 20% of the British population has a hidden or visible disability, 65 percent of disabled people prefer to keep their neurodivergence hidden for fear of unfair treatment and repercussions. Furthermore, as a result of their fear of having open conversations, approximately 40% of employees with disabilities feel judged and face challenges at work on a daily basis.
Many neurodivergent employees still feel unable to fully be themselves and disclose their disabilities as many fear that disclosure will lead to:
- Being negatively stereotyped or judged by peers
- There won’t be any action by employers like not providing enough quiet spaces in the workplace
- Limited access to stairs, lifts and limited spaces in general
- Lack of understanding by employers
- Stereotyping and isolation
The idea of neurodiversity holds that everyone has a different range of neurocognitive abilities. Each person possesses both strengths and weaknesses. There are some people, though, for whom the contrast between these strengths and challenges is more pronounced, which can be both advantageous and handicapping.
When people with neurodiversity are in the right environment and using their strengths, rather than continuously attempting to overcome obstacles, it can give them an advantage in the workplace and a more positive experience. To do this, we need to design inclusive work and learning environments that minimise barriers and highlight individual talents.
So, how can you support your neurodivergent employees? Here are a few tips:
- If an employee has any sensory needs, consider making
small adjustments to their workspace
- Sound sensitivity: Provide a quiet break area, let people know when there will be loud noises (like fire drills), and provide noise-canceling headphones
- Allow changes to the standard work attire
- Allow fidget toys additional, movement breaks, and flexible seating arrangements
- Use a clear communication style: Avoid using euphemisms, implied messages, and sarcasm
- Give clear verbal and written instructions for tasks and divide them into manageable steps
- Don't assume that someone is purposefully breaking the rules or acting impolitely; instead, educate people about proper workplace and social behavior
- If plans change, try to notify everyone in advance and state the reason for the change
- Ask about the preferences, needs, and goals of the individual rather than making assumptions
- Be kind, patient and understanding
How are you supporting your neurodiverse employees?