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How to integrate neurodiverse employees into your firm

Posted by Shivali Anand

April 14, 2022    |     6-minute read (1025 words)

Neurodivergent hiring offers new opportunities as organizations are increasingly compelled to rethink long-standing operational structures and personnel initiatives. Many people with neurological conditions such as dyslexia and autism spectrum disorder have exceptional intellectual functioning, numerical aptitude and problem-solving abilities.

Businesses are beginning to recognize neurodivergent personnel's ability to re-energize processes, drive innovation and gain a competitive edge.

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What does hiring a neurodivergent individual entail?Neurodivergent hiring refers to fostering inclusion in the workplace for people with autism, ADHD, dyslexia, Tourette's syndrome, dyspraxia and other learning or neurological differences.

What change does it make? Individuals with these disorders frequently have above-average talents and special endowments, as seen by the findings below.

• According to Harvard Business Review, some neurological diseases, such as autism and dyslexia, can result in great pattern recognition, memory and mathematics skills.

• According to the National Autism Indicators Report from Drexel University, 51% of autistic employees have abilities greater than those required by their professions.

• According to an Ernst & Young report, many neurodiverse people have a high propensity for details. They can focus on complicated activities for long periods, among other mental capacities.

• According to HBR's research, teams with neurodiverse people in specific jobs can be 30% more productive than those without. Inclusion and integration of neurodiverse individuals can also improve team morale.

• Visual thinking, attention to detail, analytic thinking, pattern identification, visual memory and creative insights, according to the CIPD's Neurodiversity at Work report, can generate ideas that teams might otherwise overlook.

Changes in the labor force provide space for neurodiversity.

Given the present labor crisis and the expected rise in the number of persons with autism entering the workforce, the case for neurodiverse hiring is extremely strong. According to the CDC, 1 out of every 44 children has autism spectrum disorder.

Furthermore, Drexel University researchers anticipate that between 700,000 and 1 million young Americans with autism will reach the age of 18 by 2029. By engaging these individuals in the talent pool, firms in the United States can address the employment shortage.

However, certain neurodiverse people's characteristics may be unsuitable for a fast-paced business workplace and some may display oddities. Employers who are aware of how neurodivergent persons receive information and interact with others might assist bridge these gaps.

How can companies embrace neurodiversity?

It's not about attempting to balance neurodiverse workers' differences. It's a matter of identifying their abilities and putting them in the conditions at work where they can thrive.

Here's how you can encourage neurodiversity in your company:

1. Adjust your interview and screening procedures.

You may lose out on great applicants by failing to study cognitive distinctions during the typical interview process. As a result, your approach is skewed toward excluding neurodiverse applicants.

Adapt your interview process to accommodate neurodivergent individuals by doing the following:

• Making changes include taking notes, providing additional time to compensate for slower processing speed and utilizing a whiteboard or flipchart to write down questions to be answered later.

• Hold informal meetings of a half-day where neurodiverse applicants may exhibit their talents instead of conducting formal interviews.

• Providing neurodiverse applicants with take-home interview homework. You may examine a candidate's creativity and communication abilities using brief, high-level case studies or test tasks. It's also beneficial for neurodiverse people who get stressed out while they're being examined.

• Extending the assessment process or offering short-term internships to evaluate neurodiverse applicants more thoroughly. Such programs give their skills time to emerge.

2. Provide training for other staff and management.

Managers and leaders should be educated about natural personality differences:

• Hold brief, low-key training sessions to ensure existing employees know what to expect from their new neurodiverse coworkers. They may, for example, require special accommodation and appear to be different.

• Managers should get more in-depth training to become familiar with resources for neurodiverse team members.

3. Establish a well-balanced work atmosphere.

The environment has a tremendous influence on neurodiverse personnel. Your workplace culture, whether it's an on-location office or a virtual work environment, can impact your new employee's productivity.

Consider the following to establish a well-balanced environment:

• Make tailored work adjustments for neurodiverse personnel to help them feel at ease. To avoid acoustic overstimulation or work at their best, some people may choose headphones, while others may like an open floor design or a different lighting setting. To process information, a few people may require voice-to-text or text-to-voice software.

• Set defined work hours and response times to demonstrate a solid work-life balance. Encourage time off because neurodiverse personnel are prone to overworking and burnout.

• Make no-meeting days a regular occurrence and the usage of "do not disturb" on work email and messaging applications. This will boost your entire team's productivity and work quality, especially your neurodiverse staff.

• Fire toxic personnel who intimidate, ridicule or lead with fear and pressure. If that isn't possible, make sure they aren't paired with your new hires.

4. Create an ecosystem of support.

Make an effort to have modest support mechanisms in place for your neurodiverse personnel. Take into account the following:

• Create two different support circles for your neurodiverse staff, one for the workplace and the other for personal difficulties, similar to what SAP does. A manager, mentor and life skill coach for guiding/motivating the employee; and a team buddy who can help with daily duties, workload management and prioritizing can all be part of the workplace support circle. The second support circle might include a personal counselor and workers' families to support and aid with social challenges and everyday life affairs.

• You may follow Hewlett Packard's lead and position your new neurodiverse employees in groups of around 10-15 individuals, where they work in a 3:1 or 4:1 ratio with neurotypical colleagues. Assign managers and at least one consultant the duty of resolving the group's neurodiversity problems.

Conclusion

Embracing neurodiverse people offers organizations a great chance to change their leadership, procedures, revenue and impact. Everyone benefits when neurodivergent individuals find jobs and workplaces in which they can flourish. High-performing teams and organizations require a range of personalities and views, so when neurodivergent individuals find positions and workplaces in which they can thrive, everyone benefits.

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