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Neurodiversity: Strategies for creating an inclusive workplace

By developing strategies for an inclusive workplace, you can increase your team morale, boost productivity, and attract the very best talent.

There are so many benefits to supporting neurodiverse employees at work. By developing strategies for an inclusive workplace, you can increase your team morale, boost productivity, and attract the very best talent.

Neurodiversity is in the spotlight, and for good reason. Statistics show around 1 in 7 of the population are neurodivergent* – that’s 15% of people who bring a new perspective and unique strengths to work.

But for many employers it can be difficult to know where to start, and ensure that they are offering the right support where it’s needed. In this article we will provide you with some practical strategies for creating an inclusive workplace to help every neurodiverse employee be their best self.

 

Key Takeaways

  • Educating and tackling misconceptions
  • Providing assistive technologies
  • Creating mentorship programs
  • Setting the tone for acceptance and respect

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Educate your workforce

There are many conditions which fall under the umbrella of neurodiversity, and ensuring everyone is on the same page is the first step to an inclusive culture.

Educating employees and managers on the most common neurodivergent conditions, such as autism, ADHD and dyslexia helps to create a culture of support, while more specific guidance such as anti-bias training tackles stigma and misconceptions.

Education doesn’t need to be solely external. Sharing the success stories and ‘lived experience’ of the neurodivergent individuals in your organisation – with their permission – also challenges stereotypes. This raises awareness among your teams of the unique strengths neurodiverse people have to offer.

Be flexible with workplace adjustments

Everyone’s needs are different when it comes to the support they might need to thrive at work, and accommodating everyone helps to create an inclusive culture.

Workplace adjustments might include offering flexible working hours or creating quiet zones in the office. It might also mean providing assistive technology such as headphones or transcribing software to employees who need them. It’s important to speak with employees directly to figure out an arrangement that works both for them, and for your business.

Along with practical accommodations, a culture that encourages open communication empowers everyone, allowing people to express their needs and share their experiences without fear of judgment.

Promote inclusive hiring processes

Attracting the very best employees includes neurodiverse talent. But sometimes, the recruitment process itself can be a barrier.

You can widen your pool of potential candidates by modifying your job descriptions. Focus on skills, experience and competencies, rather than rigid qualifications. Thinking about alternative assessment methods to traditional interviews also ensures more candidates can showcase their strengths and potential. Even simple accomodations, like providing interview questions in advance, can be incredibly beneficial to neurodiverse candidates.

If you need more support, organisations that specialise in neurodiverse employment can help you to create a comprehensive, inclusive recruitment strategy.

Create internal support networks

Community is key to fostering a supportive environment. You can build a system of invaluable guidance and support by creating mentorship programs or buddy systems, connecting neurodivergent employees to experienced colleagues.

Employee-led support networks can also create a space for neurodivergent individuals to share their experiences with each other. They can offer advice and resources, and build a sense of community.

Switch up your communication style

Just as we all learn in different ways, we all communicate in different ways, too. Recognising and accommodating this need leads to more effective collaboration.

You can do this in many ways, including by offering written meeting notes, creating visual aids for long-form content, or providing information in alternative formats. Encouraging clear and explicit communication will enhance understanding and reduce potential misunderstandings across your entire business.

Show your commitment

Being truly inclusive builds strong-performing teams by cultivating a more innovative, productive, and inclusive work environment. Valuing diversity and inclusion should come from the top-down, with leadership setting the tone for acceptance and respect.

When you integrate neurodiversity initiatives into your broader diversity and inclusion strategies, you can drive comprehensive organisational change, bringing new advantages to your business.

For any of your workplace wellbeing support needs, you can talk to Canada Life. With access to the right expertise, resources and guidance, we’ll help you support your people through the entire employee lifecycle.

* Local Government Association 

 

Explore more resources

Why embracing neurodiversity is great for business

Neurodiverse employees are an asset to any organisation, and can bring new, surprising strengths to your workplace.

Find out more

Neurodiversity: Recognising our uniqueness

Mental health expert Colin Preece explores what neurodiversity is and the benefits of embracing diversity in the workplace.

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Michelle’s story: ADHD and me

Michelle, a Medical Underwriter at Canada Life, tells her story about navigating her way through late diagnosis.

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Approved on 08/04/2024