Neurodiversity in the workplace and employing neurodivergent colleagues
A win-win for company and candidate
Neurodiversity refers to the normal variations in brain function within the human population.
Some conditions that fall under neurodivergence include autism spectrum
disorder, dyslexia, dyspraxia and ADHD. People who have these neurological
differences often excel at tasks such as data analysis, problem-solving and
pattern recognition, making them valuable assets in fields such as technology,
finance, cybersecurity and others. Despite this, many neurodivergent
individuals struggle to find employment, the UK average employment rate stands
at 20%. However, if our neurodivergent colleagues offer such value to
companies, why is it difficult for them to secure work? In this article, we
will explore two factors that can hinder the employment of neurodivergent
individuals: traditional interviews and a lack of workplace accommodations.
The traditional interview process can be overwhelming for neurodivergent
individuals, who may find it difficult to promote their skills and abilities.
This can lead to anxiety and ultimately, unsuccessful interviews. To better
assess the talents of neurodivergent candidates, we suggest replacing
traditional interviews with a hands-on evaluation conducted by a team of
learning and development (L&D) and neurodiversity-certified professionals
and send interview questions in advance, an option perhaps for all employees.
The evaluation should take place over the course of several days in a
supportive environment. During this time, candidates' hard skills can be
assessed, as well as their soft skills, time management and workplace
etiquette. Employers can also implement specific projects that cater to the job
the candidate is interested in. Once the job matching has been completed,
neurodiversity-certified leaders can oversee a small number of neurodivergent
employees and provide mentorship while ensuring productivity.
In addition to the hiring process, it is important for employers to create a
supportive company culture with proper education and accommodations for
neurodivergent employees. Without these factors, neurodivergent individuals may
face barriers to success. Employers can provide solutions such as screen
readers and noise-cancelling headphones, and can conduct site surveys to
determine if their office or online infrastructure is accommodating.
Personalised accommodations can also make a big difference, such as rearview
mirrors on computers for those who struggle with anxiety, or a traffic light
system to indicate different mood levels. Page 17 of the report below talks about Neuroinclusive environments
Providing support throughout the talent lifecycle, including coaching on self-advocacy
and opportunities for promotions and new challenges, can help with employee
retention and career mobility for neurodivergent individuals. Implementing a
neurodiversity employment program can also benefit the company by increasing
diversity and innovation, and can lead to increased productivity and a positive
Inconclusion, neurodivergent individuals have much to offer in the workplace, but
may face barriers in the hiring and retention process. By re-evaluating the
traditional interview process and creating a supportive and accommodating
company culture, employers can tap into this underutilised talent pool and help
neurodivergent job seekers find rewarding careers.