The Importance Of Neurodiversity In Modern Workplaces

CoachHub · 11 August 2022 · 3 min read

Neurodiversity is a characteristic that has been generally overlooked and even stigmatized in workplaces. An acute lack of awareness and understanding of neurodiversity has made it difficult for people with special abilities to secure jobs in their chosen field. As most organizations design their hiring process, management practices and workspaces with neurotypical workers in mind, the challenges for neurodiverse individuals continue to mount.

However, employers should remember that diverse and inclusive workplace culture is essential for success. When a company hires employees with different backgrounds and life experiences, they open up their work environments to a range of characteristics, new ideas and fresh perspectives. In fact, every employer should strive to create a workspace where all employees feel included, valued, respected and comfortable at work―including neurodiverse employees.

What is Neurodiversity?

Harvard Health Publishing defines neurodiversity as, “the idea that people experience and interact with the world around them in many different ways; there is no one ‘right’ way of thinking, learning, and behaving, and differences are not viewed as deficits.” Dyspraxia, dyslexia, ADHD and autism are all conditions that come under the umbrella of neurodiversity.

While neurodiverse people make up over 10% of the population, they usually find themselves at a disadvantage or are not considered at all in the job market. Neurodiverse employees are known to be “sensitive strivers” and are typically high achievers with tremendous potential. 

Why workplaces should encourage neurodiversity

Research from 2018 by Deloitte showed that companies with more inclusive work environments are six times more likely to be creative and agile. Hiring neurodiverse employees provide companies with a competitive edge that is realized both financially and in workplace culture. The reason is that individuals with neurocognitive disabilities have unique talents, skills, and perspectives that are often  not found in neurotypical people.For example, neurodiverse people  have the ability to view problems from a different perspective and can come up with outside-of-the-box solutions. 

Accepting neurodiversity within companies encourages productivity, innovation, and talent retention. For example, a report by JPMorgan Chase revealed that professionals in its Autism at Work initiative were 90% – 140% more productive than neurotypical employees and made much fewer mistakes. 

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How can companies create a diverse workforce?

Companies looking to hire neurodiverse employees should first reassess their current recruitment process. Most of the time, people with neurocognitive disabilities face barriers to employment even before they start working. Regular recruitment processes aren’t designed to accommodate or facilitate neurodiverse candidates. Therefore, if a company wants to create a truly inclusive and diverse workforce, it should start by reevaluating job descriptions, traditional interviewing methods and parameters of candidate evaluation. The idea is to give neurodiverse individuals an equal but fair chance to prove their merit.

A company should also ensure appropriate workplace accommodations if it wants to hire neurodiverse employees. These highly-skilled individuals have different needs, which means “one-size-fits-all” solutions won’t work. For example, if  a neurodiverse employee is uncomfortable in open office spaces, the employer can designate a small quiet area of the office for them to work in.

Employers should create an ideal work environment for neurodiverse employees and help them feel more in control and productive by clarifying priorities and developing routines.

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Final Word

A neurodiverse workforce has special needs but also unique and valuable skills and talents that neurotypical employees do not typically possess. Neurodiverse individuals deserve a fair chance to be part of both small and large organizations so they can enrich a company with different views and ideas. Acceptance is key in creating a diverse and inclusive workforce. When employers understand the benefits neurodiverse individuals can bring to their company, they can work towards developing a safe and positive work environment for people of all capabilities.

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