The term neurodiversity is a relatively new concept at work. Although challenging, establishing a neurodiverse workplace offers significant benefits.
Neurodiversity is a relatively new expression that refers to variations in how a typical human brain responds to sociability, learning, mood, and other mental functions. It’s a viewpoint that sees brain differences as normal rather than defects. Neurodiversity is usually discussed in the context of children, but it’s relevant to adults and even more so in the modern workplace.
Neurodiversity is associated with people who experience dyslexia, autism, dyspraxia, ADHD, and other similar neurological conditions. They’re known as “spectrum” conditions that cover a wide range of characteristics but share similarities in how people with these conditions learn and process different kinds of information.
Many organizations fail to support neurodiverse employees. This is party because working with neurodiverse employees can be perceived as challenging.
In this guide, we’ll explore the benefits of a neurodiverse workplace. We’ll look at some of the competitive advantages of neurodiversity and the legislation surrounding it. Finally, we’ll end with advice on making neurodiversity a workplace strength by supporting neurodiverse employees.
What is neurodiversity in a workplace setting?
Neurodiversity has historically been met with a negative response in workplace settings. Research has shown that neurodiversity is ignored by seven in ten employers, and few will make reasonable adjustments to support neurodiverse job applicants. Despite this, there are many characteristics in neurodivergent people that benefit the workplace.
Challenges and benefits
Neurodiversity has long been seen as a negative in the hiring process. So much, around 81% of adults with autism are either unemployed or underemployed. Organizations tend to shy away from hiring people on the spectrum. This sentiment seems consistent across most industries and is typically seen when looking at job descriptions. These descriptions list many desirable traits – such as solid communication skills, emotional intelligence, and sociability – but these traits are not strong points in people who are on the spectrum. Even a traditional job interview can be a significant barrier for neurodiverse job seekers.
But there are many benefits to establishing a neurodiverse workplace. Here are just a few:
- Neurodiverse individuals make up a large pool of talent that remains untapped because of the stigma attached to neurodiverse people. As such, there is an opportunity for businesses to fill in skill gaps by hiring from this large pool of potential talent.
- People with dyslexia are often seen as having more creative problem-solving skills. This allows them to approach problems with unique and innovative solutions. While there is no reliable data to show this right now, researchers are studying the topic and are asking important questions about what factors and experiences determine someone’s creative thinking skills.
- Neurodiverse employees can bring unique experiences to your workplace. Individuals who may have been stigmatized in the past understand both the challenges and benefits of working with neurodiversity. As such, they can be excellent consultants to help establish business practices that are friendly towards the neurodiverse population.
- The Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity reports that people with dyslexia have high levels of creativity because it takes them more time to explore new learning methods. In a workplace, neurodivergent people are more likely to find more efficient and effective solutions and challenge pre-existing processes.
- Some people on the spectrum may bring an enhanced sense of rule-based thinking. These logical approaches to problem-solving may be what a company needs to make breakthroughs in its products, services, and even technology.
- Diversity is a strength regardless of the industry or workplace. It brings different creative minds to the same table, allowing for more innovation that can increase a business’s competitiveness. More diverse mindsets and backgrounds create unique perspectives and ideas that your brand can build on.
- Neurodiversity has been proven as a strength in the workplace. It allows companies to outthink and outperform competitors due to their diverse ideas and talents.
- Lastly, diversity in a team setting is always positive. It allows employees to learn more about people from different backgrounds, share skills among themselves, and improve their personal growth thanks to the inclusive nature of a diverse team