How to Support and Empower Neurodivergent Employees

Most people are neurotypical, meaning their brains function and process information according to society's expectations. However, nearly 15% of the UK population are neurodiverse.

That's an estimated 1 in 7 people, which isn't a small number.

What Exactly is Neurodiversity?

The term neurodiversity refers to the fact that not all brains work and function in the same way. There are many different ways in which the brain can interpret information, and all these variations exist on a spectrum. Diverse brain functions can lead to people with neurodiversity to struggle with certain aspects of their work and life, while thriving at others.

Types of neurodivergence include:

  • Dyslexia
  • Dyspraxia / DCD
  • Dyscalculia
  • Developmental Language Disorder
  • Autism
  • ADHD
  • Tourette Syndrome & Tic disorders
  • Epilepsy
  • Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder

Some neurodivergent people received their diagnoses as children, while others received them later in life. Of course, there is also a number of people who are neurodiverse and simply haven't been diagnosed.

Neurodiversity in the Workplace

Whether they know it or not, most organisations already have a neurodiverse workforce. If you're a manager, it's likely that you have members on your team who are neurodiverse in some unique way, and you may also have colleagues who are on the spectrum. Neurodiversity within any workforce is as beneficial to an organisation as any other division of DE&I in that neurodiverse thinking brings fresh ideas and innovation, important perspectives, hyper focus, and attention to detail – to name a few. In fact, next time you're hiring, you may want to head straight for the neurodiverse talent pool.

Creating an Environment That's Supportive of Neurodiversity

It might not be obvious at first thought, but by creating a supportive culture and workplace environment for the neurodiverse, you'll also be empowering your neurotypical employees.

For example, by introducing flexible work hours for employees who operate better either in the mornings or the evenings, you're also accommodating working parents or employees with caring responsibilities.

Typical or atypical, every employee is unique and operates on an individual level. By changing and adapting some of the ways you conduct business to better suit all your employees' needs, you'll improve both their wellbeing and productivity. Here are some ways to do just that…

  • Flexible Working Hours
  • Flexible Work Systems
  • Businesses who invest in the right tools for their staff see an increase in productivity, morale and retention.
  • Behavioural Consideration
  • Open Communication