Neurodivergent is a term used to describe someone whose brain functioning is not neurotypical, or ‘average’. It is an umbrella term which encompasses any person diagnosed with a neurological condition, such as autism, dyslexia, dyspraxia, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and more.
Neurodiversity is the concept that these brain differences are natural variations, that we are all different and that these differences are not deficits or impairments.
Having a neurodiverse workforce has huge benefits; diversity is key to the development of any organisation and neurodivergent employees often have highly desirable skills and attributes. They can empower a workplace, encouraging creativity through their new ideas, fresh perspective and ‘outside the box’ thinking.
However, as with any team member, it is important to be able to recognise individual strengths and weaknesses and understand any challenges they may face. This will enable you to support them to be comfortable and successful at work.
The Equality Act 2020 states that employers have a duty to make reasonable adjustments to support people with disabilities within the workplace. However, this is only a legal obligation when a formal diagnosis has been provided; it is highly likely that there are many more neurodivergent people within their workplace who have not been diagnosed, or perhaps do not realise it. Raising awareness and becoming a more inclusive workplace will potentially help these employees to develop too.
Probably the simplest answer here is just to ask. Everybody is different and neurodivergence can take many forms.
Enabling a neurodivergent candidate to thrive in the workplace will not only benefit them, but everybody within that workplace too. Some simple adjustments which can be made include:
Physical adjustments to accommodate any sensory needs
As a manager, having a supportive, flexible approach plays a huge part in ensuring neurodivergent employees have a positive workplace experience. Through understanding, communication and regular feedback, employers can shake off the stigma and stereotyping previously associated with neurodivergence and help their employees to reach their full potential.
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Date: September 25, 2023