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What steps can your organisation take to support neurodiverse employees?

Our research found that 94% of organisations either currently have or are planning to gain an understanding of how to support neurodiverse employees this year[1]. As our workforces continue to diversify, fostering an inclusive environment is not just the right thing to do, it’s a legal requirement. The Equality Act of 2010 mandates that employers make reasonable adjustments to accommodate the needs of individuals with disabilities, this includes those with neurodiverse conditions.

What is neurodiversity?

Originally coined by 1990s sociologist, Judy Singer, ‘neurodiversity describes 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 [Harvard Health]’. The concept asserts that these variations in brain function are natural aspects of human diversity, and should not be viewed as better or worse than the neurotypical way of thinking.

Examples of neurodiverse conditions

Some neurodiverse conditions, include:

  • Autism or Autism Spectrum Conditions
  • ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) or ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder)
  • Dyscalculia
  • Dysgraphia
  • Dyslexia
  • Dyspraxia
  • Tourette’s syndrome
  • Williams syndrome

Steps an organisation can take to be more inclusive

Make adjustments to an individual’s working environment

For neurodivergent individuals an office environment can evoke many sensory sensitivities. Whether it be introducing a clean desk policy, providing noise cancelling headphones or moving someone’s desk to a position that better suits their needs, there are many small things an organisation can do to help make people feel more comfortable.

Educate other employees

Offering access to training and educational resources to build a greater understanding of neurodiversity across the organisation, particularly for those in a managerial position, can go a long way to creating a more inclusive environment.

Many of our ILX staff recently completed neurodiversity training to better educate themselves on the subject. When reflecting on the session, one staff member said: “I think the session was extremely insightful and informative, it covered areas I personally had little to no experience with. The content is vitally important to be aware of to help understand neurodiverse people more.”

Adjust recruitment practices

To create a diverse workforce, you need to ensure your hiring processes are inclusive. Making small modifications such as ensuring job descriptions are written in a clear and concise manner, and considering alternative ways to assess skills and potential for individuals who may not perform well under the stressful setting of a face-to-face interview, could mean the difference between a potentially perfect candidate sending you their application or choosing to go elsewhere.

Offer flexible work arrangements

Providing the option for individuals to work from home, or be flexible with their schedule may help increase productivity. For example, a person with ADHD may struggle to focus for long stretches of time therefore allowing them to take multiple short breaks throughout the day, rather than one longer break at lunch, may work better for them.

Build open channels of communication

The final, and probably most important, step is to improve communication. Every neurodivergent individual is different, and as a result, the accommodations needed will also differ from person to person. It is therefore crucial to collaborate and have an open discussion with the given individual to understand what will be most beneficial for them.

Embracing diversity

There are many benefits that come from having a neurodiverse workforce, including increased creativity, enhanced lateral thinking, improved attention to detail and much more. Making these small adjustments to help your neurodivergent employees thrive could take your business to new heights that it may not have reached with a neurotypical workforce alone.

As a training organisation, ILX are acutely aware that people have different learning styles, so we are passionate about ensuring our learning content is as accessible as possible, which is why we offer different delivery methods. The training we provided to our employees doesn’t just aim to improve accessibility internally but also for our customers. Our e-learning content is created in multiple formats with voiceovers, scripts and video content. We are also working on creating additional video content offering guidance around questions such as ‘how do I book my exam’ and ‘how do I access my e-learning’.

[1] ILX Group (2024). Developing an adaptable and productive workforce for the future: The trends and challenges facing senior leadership teams in 2024