While ten per cent of the UK population is in some way neurodivergent, only one in ten organisations consider neurodiversity in their people management practices.
That’s according to new research by the CIPD. It points out that due to ‘a lack of awareness’ within UK organisations and the way that most organisations are physically and structurally set up for ‘neurotypicals’, many workplaces do not enable neurodiverse individuals to perform to their full potential.
In the study, neurodiversity refers to the natural range of differences in human brain function. The CIPD says that amongst employers, it’s used to describe alternative thinking styles including dyslexia, autism, ADHD and dyspraxia as they relate to diversity and inclusion.
See here for more on what employers need to know about neuro-differences and hidden disabilities.
The CIPD says that people with these thinking styles can have unique strengths. These can include data-driven thinking, sustained focus over long periods, an ability to spot patterns and trends, and the capacity to process information at extraordinary speeds.
Lack of awareness
However, its research reveals that 72% of HR professionals said that consideration of neurodiversity wasn’t included in their people management practices, and 17% said that they didn’t know.
Guide for employers
The CIPD, and Uptimize, a provider of neurodiversity inclusion training, has developed a guide for employers to show the simple workplace adjustments needed to enable people to perform at their best.
Dr Jill Miller, Diversity and Inclusion Adviser at the CIPD, says: “While workplace adjustments will be dependent on individual need, they are often small and inexpensive, and many actually benefit everyone. Why wouldn’t you want a more navigable intranet or clearer communications with your manager?”
Example recommendations for employers in the guide, include:
Highlight employee support networks and similar resources clearly in the on-boarding process and on the company intranet for anyone who needs them.
Ensure individualised support is available to all, from access to mentoring, coaching and counselling – make sure that support is clearly signposted.
Address comfort at work on a regular basis through workspace preference questionnaires and broader employee satisfaction surveys.
Ensure job descriptions are jargon free and clearly signal that your organisation welcomes neurodivergent individuals.
Many recruitment practices often rely on competency frameworks where people are filtered out if they don’t meet minimum standards on a set of wide ranging capabilities – review your recruitment approach to ensure you’re not screening out talented individuals.
Ensure interviewers are informed about neurodiversity so they are fair and empathetic in the interview process (such as by choosing a quiet interview space, avoiding rapid fire questions and understanding why some people might not make direct eye contact).
Avoid really bright lights in your office that can be distracting or lead to sensory overload.
Consider how noisy open plan environments can be distracting or lead to individuals feeling overwhelmed.
Complete a desk assessment for any new joiners, helping them make sure their computer screen isn’t too bright and they have everything they need to aid personal organisation (such as trays and filing drawers).