fbpx

Neurodiversity: A Workplace Asset (How Expert Diversity & Inclusion Consultants Can Help)

Defining Neurodiversity

Neurodiversity refers to a difference in neurocognitive functioning. It is an all-encompassing term that refers to autism, ADHD, dyslexia, Tourette’s syndrome, anxiety, OCD, depression, intellectual disability, and schizophrenia. Thankfully, the world is becoming more and more open to people who aren’t neurotypical. Instead, we should look at neurodivergent people as differently skilled, differently abled.

With more companies figuring out ways to hire and accommodate neurodiversity within their organization, they often look to expert diversity and inclusion consultants who can make employees transitions to the workplace easier and ensure that certain accommodations can be in place to ensure the best environment possible.

With some of the above disorders, people often struggle with social skills, but they tend to be far above average in everything else: problem-solving, analyzing, information processing, pattern recognition, memory, mathematics, and so much more.

Benefits of Neurodiversity in the Workplace

As mentioned above, neurodiverse people are highly skilled individuals(1) that bring a unique and new perspective to the workplace. However, unemployment is high among the neurodiverse, even though many hold advanced degrees and certifications.

Human resources overlook neurodiverse applicants due to behaviors that look opposite to what the idea of a good employee is supposed to be – good communication skills, being a team player, persuasive personalities, ability to network, etc. Meeting these criteria on human resources’ checklist can be difficult for the differently abled.

Many are looked over simply because they ‘wouldn’t be a good culture fit.’ But that is a considerable oversight since neurodiverse people tend to be better at processing information, productivity, work quality, and attention to detail. Feedback from companies that have implemented neurodiverse programs found their employees to be more dependable, motivated, and engaged when compared to their neurotypical colleagues.

These oversights can be remedied by companies and organizations employing the expertise of neurodiversity consultants and expert ADHD coaches. Not only will these coaches—often industrial-organizational psychologists—help neurodivergent employees once they’re hired, but they can also educate and help HR and other leadership within the company how to better work with their employees.

How Remote Work Impacts Neurodiverse Individuals

Neurodiverse employees may need more accommodations when working from home.

The Covid-19 pandemic really brought everyone’s attention to creating an enjoyable work environment that is still productive, so it has been necessary for companies to make accommodations(2) to help everyone perform their jobs, especially the neurodiverse.

Many neurodiverse individuals are easily overstimulated. So, working to accommodate them with noise-canceling headphones or a one-on-one meeting rather than navigating a Zoom meeting with thirty-plus people will be productive for both the employee and the company. Working at home also provides a break from the harsh fluorescent lights of an office setting, which will help with sensory overload.

However, there are downsides to remote work from some neurodiverse employees. Those on the autism spectrum may find it difficult with their routine changing and a lack of structure. People with dyslexia may find it easier to watch a recording of a meeting. And some people may struggle without hard deadlines, like a project that is vaguely ‘due Friday and the end of the day’ rather than due by Friday 3 p.m.

The only experts about being differently abled are neurodiverse employees. Employers and managers can only find the best ways to accommodate each neurodiverse employee by speaking with them and seeing how they best process information – whether it be tactile, visual, or auditory. Discover and play to their strengths.

Here are a few ways companies can support neurodiverse individuals who are working from home:

  • Ease Zoom Requirements – Implementing a flexible camera rule by telling your employee’s that their camera does not need to be on for meetings if they aren’t feeling up to it. Many people listen better to what is going on when there isn’t the distraction of being on camera and seeing a dozen other faces on their computer screen. Having the camera turned off takes the pressure away from maintaining eye contact and appearing to look fully attuned to the meeting.
  • Screen Breaks – Encouraging time away from computer screens during the workplace has yielded higher productivity for all employees, not just the neurodiverse.
  • Regular Check-ins – Due to the state of the world, people need to be asked how they’re holding up. It’s just a nice courtesy to extend to all – and it will help employers get a good feel for the needs and wants of their employees so they can better offer help and accommodations.

And if employers need help, there are professional coaches and industrial and organizational psychologists—that specialize in diversity and inclusion, neurodiversity consulting and expert ADHD coaching—out there that offer their services and help neurodiverse programs and employees work to the best of their ability.

 

How Industrial-Organizational Psychologists & Neurodiversity Consultants Can Help

Industrial organizations (I/O) psychologists study human behavior in the workplace. They assess individual, group, and organizational dynamics within an organization and its employees, and work to improve the well-being and performance of everyone within the organization. They help identify and solve problems, and this is how they can benefit neurodiverse individuals in the workplace.

Here are just some of the benefits that an I/O psychologist(3) can offer to an organization:

  • Assess preferences, satisfaction, and market strategies
  • Coach employees and managers
  • Develop criteria to evaluate performance of individual employees and the organization as a whole
  • Formulate and implement training programs
  • Identify training and development needs
  • Optimize quality of work-life

I/O psychologists can be very helpful when a business or organization is trying their best to implement neurodiverse employee programs. They can help them figure out the best way to accommodate neurodiverse employees to make them comfortable in whatever environment they choose to work—at home or in the office.

Alice at The CEO Within offers I/O coaching for neurodivergent individuals. She is a diversity and inclusion consultant and neurodiversity consultant who can provide mentoring, workplace accommodations, and resources for further vocational training. For people diagnosed with ADHD, she is an expert ADHD coach who helps by supporting their executive functioning. She can help you find your strengths and weaknesses, provide assistance in setting goals, reaching objectives, etc.

 

The Takeaway

The workplace is evolving – it’s no longer a place where the ‘perfect’ neurotypical employees are welcome. More and more, organizations are working towards being more diverse and hiring more employees that are neurodivergent.

Neurodivergent people bring a whole different skill set that is beneficial to the workplace. They offer a different perspective on how business should be conducted, and their productivity levels and success in the workplace match or best that of their neurotypical colleagues.

If an organization is looking to implement a neurodivergent employee program, especially as we move through this new world that Covid-19 thrust us into, industrial-organizational psychologists can help employees feel comfortable in their workspaces, whether at home or in the office. I/O psychologists and neurodiversity consultants work with employees to find ways to make their jobs easier to do by helping them with any sensory, overstimulation, attention, and social issues.

References

  1. https://hbr.org/2017/05/neurodiversity-as-a-competitive-advantage
  2. https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/employee-relations/pages/neurodiverse-employees-may-need-accommodations-for-remote-work.aspx
  3. https://www.apa.org/education-career/guide/subfields/organizational

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.