Great minds don’t think alike: Tips for a neuro-inclusive workplace
All of us think differently.
A neuro-inclusive workplace means supporting and making adaptations for people who may have or be seeking a neurodiverse diagnosis, or who may just think a little differently to others around them.
Neurodiversity is a term often associated with diagnoses including (but not limited to) dyslexia, dyspraxia, dyscalculia, ADHD and autism.
But neurodiversity is also about reframing these differences, showcasing the many advantages that these and many different ways of thinking can bring. Ultimately, it’s about creating more positive social change for those of us who face greater exclusion in the workplace.
Neurodiverse individuals are sick of being told what they can’t do.
It’s what they can do that matters.
So, what can you do to make your workplace more neuro-inclusive and create an environment where every diverse mind can thrive?
Tackling the issues
There are huge numbers of talented neurodiverse individuals who are underrepresented in the workforce.
Employees with ADHD are 30% more likely to have chronic employment issues, 60% more likely to be fired from a job and three times more likely to quit a job impulsively (Barkley, 2008).
Some neurodiverse conditions may also be linked to mental health challenges. That’s not to say that every neurodiverse individual will face mental health issues. But research shows that conditions like anxiety and depression could be more common in some neurodiverse individuals (Alexander-Passe, 2015; Pozuelo 2017).
Without the right support, people can face many barriers to accessing opportunities at work and struggle to thrive among their peers.
The cost is big for businesses, too. According to Deloitte, poor employee mental health costs employers £56 billion every year (Deloitte, 2022).
Something has to change.
Let’s look at what you and your organisation can do to improve workplace inclusivity for neurodiverse individuals.
3 ways to build and support a neuro-inclusive workplace
Building a neuro-inclusive workplace won’t happen overnight. It relies on the input of all employees at every level, to bring about three main organisational changes that will drive sustainable neuro-inclusion:
1. Cultural change
Creating an inclusive culture has been top of the agenda in recent years, but it is notoriously difficult to achieve – particularly in the long term. To have an intrinsically neuro-inclusive culture, leaders must focus on growing awareness of neurodiversity among the workforce.
At the individual level, employees can help drive the conversation about neurodiversity and cognitive differences at work, sharing their experiences and cognitive profiles. But this must be paired with training for HR and managers to help them adequately support neurodiverse employees day to day.
2. Practical change
Having a greater understanding of cognitive differences throughout an organisation is the first step for supporting neuro-inclusion at work, but what does that look like in practice?
The workplace should be designed with diverse thinkers in mind. This way, every new recruit and existing employee are likely to work more effectively and have their needs supported.
By approaching personal learning and development through a cognitive lens, employees will feel safer to open up about what they may struggle with at work. Honest conversations can lead to practical adjustments and flexibilities to help each individual thrive thanks to their cognitive differences, not despite them.
3. Process change
Learning & development is just one element of the employee journey, however. We encourage organisations to weave neuro-inclusivity into every thread of this journey, from advertising, recruitment and onboarding to retention and progression.
Creating support pathways for neurodiverse employees means taking steps to attract, retain and nurture diverse talent at every stage.
For example, inclusive job adverts and interview processes are likely to attract more diverse candidates, while a robust neurodiversity policy and workplace adjustments will help retain and nurture talent.
Making the personal scalable
We touched briefly on the need for workplace adjustments and flexibilities that suit each individual employee. But you might be wondering how this can be done at scale?
The Cognassist neuro-inclusion platform is used by organisations to drive, measure and demonstrate progressive diversity and inclusion:
- Our cognitive assessment and personalised report give everyone unique insights into their own cognition, shedding light on how we think, learn, work and collaborate.
- Training resources and skill modules are designed to upskill the workforce on important neurodiversity topics, from how to harness cognitive strengths at work to outlining your legal rights and responsibilities.
Take our free Neurodiversity in the Workplace Masterclass
To discover more about neurodiversity and breaking down barriers in the workplace, sign up to our free, on-demand masterclass to help you increase neuro-inclusivity in your workplace.