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Research shows that 22% of people with autism are unemployed - a truly shocking comparison to those without developmental disorders. This statistic highlights that neurodiversity in the workplace needs to be improved. But how can businesses embrace these differences and work towards inclusion?

To answer that question it's important to understand what exactly neurodiversity is and how it affects people working with neurodiversity. Only then can we create welcoming, friendly spaces for everyone.

This article will act as a guide to everything related to workplace neurodiversity. It will also cover how to achieve the magical balance of inclusion and productivity in your offices. 

Understanding Neurodiversity

If you've been wondering, what is neurodiversity? Then, you're not alone. Many people assume that "high functioning" means that those on the autism spectrum can work just like everyone else. 

However, it's not a one size fits all approach to supporting neurodiversity in the workplace. In fact, neurodivergent relates to many different conditions that are not only autism. For example: 

  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • Dyslexia 
  • Dyspraxia 
  • Dysnomia
  • Dyscalculia 
  • Tourette's Syndrome 

Therefore, when it comes to offering supportive working environments you need to consider the individual needs of your employees.

Seeing that one in seven people in the UK is neurodivergent means companies need to step up their efforts in making jobs and careers more accessible to people on the neurodivergent spectrum.

But, how can your business embrace neurodiversity in the workplace?

Embracing neurodivergence as a superpower

This Neurodiversity Celebration Week presents the ideal opportunity to pick up some tips for making your neurodivergent employees feel wonderful during this time: 

1. Highlight Your neurodivergent employees

The best way to address the query, "what is workplace neurodiversity?" is by having your employees feel comfortable enough to talk openly about their experiences. 

You can create presentations, hold events, and educate your staff to the best of your ability, but a human story can help tremendously with informing people about neurodiversity. 

Therefore, you should create surveys for staff so you can get personal feedback about what to improve in your workplace. Then, you can start implementing changes.

 2. Open your doors to neurodivergent employees

As far as recruitment goes, it's essential to make your business open to people on the neurodivergent spectrum. If your company appears to be selective and dismissive of these employees, it's bad for your reputation. 

You should have training for your HR and recruitment teams so they know what skills to look for. For instance, neurodiverse people tend to be analytical, creative, and excellent problem solvers, all of which are fantastic characteristics for your employees to have! 

3. Words matter

Another key part of neurodiversity in the workplace is language. Words are powerful, and consistency is necessary when it comes to your company mission statements, employee handbook, and job descriptions. 

You can also consider including a specific policy in your contracts about neurodiversity to emphasise the values and beliefs of your brand. This will help instil trust with colleagues and employees. 

4. Listen

Making time to listen and have conversations with neurodivergent employees could be the secret to improving your workplace culture. If your staff feel like they are lacking support then you can invest in better guidance. 

For instance, you can hire separate counsellors or start groups where neurodiverse people can voice their concerns in a safe space.

Plus, you can change lighting systems for people with sensitivities and monitor noise levels if people feel that the noises are distracting for their work.

Listening to your neurodiverse employees should be a top priority. Otherwise, you can't provide the necessary environment for them to thrive.

5. Consider legal obligations 

Sometimes your business will have a legal obligation to protect its neurodivergent staff from discrimination and abuse. You should carefully look over all your documents and talk with your legal team about this.

In terms of the legal aspects of fostering a good workplace for neurodivergent employees, you should also train other staff to know the correct language and rules to use when at work. 

This will help everyone feel more comfortable and will avoid any unwanted conflicts that might arise. 

6. Praise neurodiversity

In any workplace, it's important to praise individual success and new records, but it's even more important to praise neurodiverse people's accomplishments...

Why? 

Because most employees may overlook certain achievements like submitting numerous tasks in one day or meeting new deadlines. But, for neurodivergent people, this is a moment of pride. 

Therefore, taking time to praise all individuals on the successes of their goals is brilliant way to make your staff feel included. 

7. Start a buddy system

Buddy systems have been used in organisations for years as a way to include new members of staff and build better relations between colleagues. However, the buddy system is essential for including neurodiverse people.

Having neurodiverse mentors for other neurodiverse employees makes it easier for people to settle into new environments. Everyone likes to have someone who they can relate to teaching them about the job. 

Using the buddy system can also help neurodivergent people make friends at work, which will make them feel part of the team and appreciated. 

8. Flexible locations

With the rise of working from home, many neurodiverse people are remote working. If your business feels that your employees would benefit from this flexibility, then you might want to re-think your location.

Offering the choice to work from home where neurodiverse people can be in their own space, with their own things, might benefit your company. Productivity can increase with this hybrid setup.

Not only is it important for the daily working routines, but it is also more beneficial to the overall wellbeing of neurodiverse people. 

Similarly, if you have staff who prefer a routine which includes attending the office as part of a blended working schedule, it’s worth examining or introducing "un-bookable" desks. This provides comfort to those who need/want continuity in their workspace, reassuring them that they have a desk or specific working space that they can call their own.

9. Redefine success

Success is relative, whether people are neurodiverse or not, so as a business you shouldn't predefine achievements. You should make room for neurodiversity when it comes to growth and goals.

For example, some people might want to rapidly progress within an organisation, whereas others prefer to focus on finding a job they enjoy and can see themselves doing in the long term. 

Therefore, you should create various paths to success for neurodiverse people so they can achieve their version of accomplishments they can take pride in. 

10. Invest in a positive work culture

Nowadays, there are many ways to invent a good work culture for neurodiverse people with the help of technology such as social media and chat forums. 

Using social media to promote the amazing neurodiverse people at your work sends a great message and shows that you value each person for their individuality. 

Likewise, using online chat forums where people can meet virtually if they work from home allows people to feel part of the culture even if they aren't physically in the same room. 

Reinventing neurodiversity in the workplace

Thankfully, we live in a world where differences are celebrated and businesses are looking to improve their work culture so people feel more committed to their jobs. 

That's why promoting good mental health practices and wellbeing for your neurodiverse staff will make your company stand out from the rest. If people see that you look after employees, then it'll attract new candidates. 

There are a few other ways to nurture a healthy environment to ensure everyone is included in the company. Here are some ways you can make your workplace more attractive for the neurodiverse community.

Prioritise self-care 

As a business, you can encourage your staff to prioritise self-care by hosting virtual wellbeing events, creating inspiring emails, and organising newsletters that highlight local events in your area. 

Promoting a healthy work-life balance is a huge part of neurodiversity in the workplace. Employees need to be able to take time off when they feel overwhelmed or when they need to de-stress. 

Showcasing self-care activities will inspire a positive atmosphere around neurodiversity and help you become more appealing to the neurodiverse workforce. 

You can also hand out monthly care packages with self-care items such as candles, stickers, t-shirts, and books. This will make your employees feel special, and it takes little time and money to create.

Creating the right workplace 

Ultimately, creating a workplace with a healthy attitude towards neurodiversity means that you'll need some assistance. Not all companies are passionate about inclusion so you need to take your time investing in it.

So, where can you find services to give you advice on supporting neurodiversity? 

Randstad is the world’s leading provider of HR services, offering a range of useful information on the topic and extensive industry insights. Click here below to request a chat with one of our experts:

Jobs that celebrate neurodiversity

Jobs are essential to being part of society and developing bonds with the rest of your community, but finding the right position can be hard. Luckily, Randstad is here to help promote neurodiverse workplaces.

Neurodiversity in the workplace is one of the first questions that people on the spectrum ask companies. Therefore, inclusion matters.

No one wants to work somewhere where they feel undervalued. And, no one should ever feel unworthy at work.

So, ensuring that your business has all the necessary policies when hiring a neurodiverse applicant is vital to success, get in touch - we’d be happy to help. 

about the author
mark jones ruk
mark jones ruk

Mark Jones

senior inclusion & wellbeing manager emea at randstad uk