Firms need to understand the value of having people that don’t think in a traditional way.
Neurodiverse employees benefit an organisation however a large percentage remain unemployed. But by understanding and accommodating the needs of neurodiverse talent, employers can foster a more diverse, inclusive and successful business.
According to a recent article by recruitment firm Hays, that looked at how employable neurodiverse adults, such as those with autism, Asperger’s syndrome, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and dyslexia — are being left out of the workforce in swathes.
The Office of National Statistics (ONS) has published new data that shows just 22 per cent of autistic adults are in any kind of employment.
Yet there are many benefits to be gained from hiring neurodiverse employees. Autism Europe says that people with the condition are predisposed to display higher levels of concentration, hold detailed factual knowledge or technical skill and excel at repetitive tasks. Similar skills are also often seen in people with Asperger’s syndrome. Meanwhile, a 2019 EY report indicated that people with dyslexia often display the most in-demand skills for the workforce of the future – leadership, creativity and initiation.
Carlene Jackson, CEO of tech company Cloud9 Insight – who is herself dyslexic – estimates around 20 to 30 per cent of her company are neurodiverse. Describing the benefits these employees bring, she says, “Firms just need to understand the value of having people that don’t think in a traditional way. We find the ability to focus and be loyal are strong autistic traits, while being creative and an out-of-the-box thinker is a dyslexic’s contribution. Why wouldn’t we want this in our business?”
According to Tom Osborne, Managing Director of Hays Malaysia, “Equality, diversity and inclusion have been major areas of focus for many organisations in recent years, and for good reason. But while many organisations are taking steps to improve the inclusion of workers from different ethnic groups, genders and social backgrounds, adults with brain differences are being overlooked.
“Yet organisations need diversity of thought and mind. By accommodating the needs of neurodiverse employees, employers can create a more inclusive workplace for those with different approaches.”
According to Hays, there are several ways employers can achieve this:
- Encourage inclusivity and diversity of thought: Culturally, organisations need to ensure staff are aware and accepting of the different needs of their colleagues. Create an inclusive culture where individuals feel they belong and their differences are accepted and valued.
- Adjust your interview process: When recruiting, think about the social challenges the candidate is facing. Don’t let a lack of eye contact or difficulty answering questions hide the skill and abilities of the candidate. Research best practice hiring tips.
- Talk openly about neurodiversity: By starting to talk about differences, staff will learn to spot and be more accepting of neurodiverse colleagues.
- Create a mentorship program: Pair each neurodiverse employee with an internal mentor and check-in regularly to understand if additional support or accommodations are required.
- Consult an expert: Organisations such as Aspiritech, a software and quality assurance testing non-profit with an entire workforce made up of people on the autism spectrum, are ready and willing to share their experience to help make your work environment an easier place for neurodiverse employees.