By Adam Tobias (Partner, Inventum Consulting).
I recently chaired an event for RIDI (the Recruitment Industry Disability Initiative) at Eversheds Sutherland, the international law firm.
At the event I presented on the power of neurodiversity in the workplace, the benefits, the challenges and how to attract and retain neurodiverse talent.
What is neurodiversity?
Neurodiversity is a group of atypical neurological learning and developmental conditions such as -
Autistic Spectrum Conditions (incl. Asperger’s Syndrome)
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
Dyscalculia and others...
What are the benefits of neurodiversity in the workplace?
According to a recent CIPD study, neurodiverse individuals are the most innovative and creative employee group. Innovation comes through different thinking, sometimes counter-intuitive to the norm...
Neurodiversity drives innovation revenue (new products /services less than 3 years old)
Neurodiversity fights against ‘groupthink’ – i.e. teams/groups with a limited acceptance of new ideas
Leadership skills – Forbes Magazine called ADHD ‘the entrepreneurs superpower!'
Specialist skills – JP Morgan hired a group of autistic individuals to work in an analytical team – they were 50% more productive that neurotypical staff
Do neurodiverse individuals face challenges in the workplace?
Yes. For example, only 16% of Autistic people of working age are in employment, despite the vast majority of autistic people being able (and wanting) to work.
Autistic people can struggle with social interaction and ambiguity in communication
Those with dyslexia can struggle with written work, attention to detail and memory
Individuals with ADHD can be disorganised and have poor timekeeping
Neurodiverse individuals struggle to get through standard recruitment processes
How do organisations attract neurodiverse talent?
The normal attraction processes don’t always work
Encourage applications from neurodiverse applicants through all marketing channels
Ensure job descriptions and specifications are clear, remove ambiguity and unessential requirements
Consider different application methods – CVs, written applications, video or audio applications, online assessments (but remove time limits), gamification selection.
Or, consider removal of interview process... offer a practical test related to the work, or working interviews and job trials are far better ways to assess than a traditional interview.
What adjustments can be made for neurodiverse individuals at work?
Awareness – having managers and colleagues who are aware of conditions and willing to help is the biggest single driver for success
Flexibility – consider different working hours, e.g. for Autistic staff who wish to avoid the stress of rush hour
Reduce sensory triggers – no hot desking, desk space in quieter part of the office, noise cancelling headphones for example
Technology – speech to text and text to speech software, autocorrect and grammatical software, remote working
Communication – consider concise emails for autistic staff, bullet points for dyslexic individuals, verbal for those with ADHD
Social interaction – some neurodiversity individuals don’t necessarily thrive in social situations – do they need to attend social events like work drinks and Christmas parties?
More often than not, adjustments cost nothing, and when they do cost, its normally very low
Adam Tobias (Partner)
Inventum Consulting & Inventum Search, Co-Founder of Wells Tobias Group
Tel: 020 3008 4335