Neurodiversity refers to the different ways the brain can work and interpret information. It highlights that people naturally think about things differently. We have different interests and motivations and are naturally better at some things and not so good at others.
Most people are neurotypical, meaning that the brain functions and processes information in the way society expects. However, it is estimated that around 1 in 7 people (more than 15% of people in the UK) are neurodivergent, meaning that the brain functions, learns and processes information differently from others.
Neurodivergence includes Attention Deficit Disorders, Autism, Dyslexia, Dyscalculia and Dyspraxia.
Is this more social engineering?
Before you switch off and think that this doesn’t affect me, think about this; Neurodivergence is fairly common, so most workplaces are already neurodiverse. Yet, there is still a lack of understanding around most forms of neurodivergence, and chronic misperceptions continue to exist.
It therefore makes sense for organisations to take steps that make their neurodivergent staff feel valued, part of the team and supported to contribute fully towards achieving the goals of the organisation.
Leaders and Managers who develop a more inclusive workplace create the following for neurodiverse employees: –
1. Reduce the stigma around neurodivergence who then tend be treated more fairly by their managers and colleagues.
2. Make staff feel safe and empowered to disclose a neurodivergence.
3. Open the organisation up to a certain pool of talent that may otherwise have been overlooked.
Inclusive actions and strategies put in place by leaders and managers can benefit all staff and help an organisation get the best out of their whole workforce.
Is there a real problem?
The National Autism Indicators Report produced by Drexel University
revealed the following: –
- Fewer than one in six autistic adults is in full-time employment.
- Less than 16% of survey participants have full-time paid work. This figure has hardly changed since 2007.
- 51% of autistic people in work said their skills were higher than those their job required.
- More than three-quarters (77%) who are unemployed say they want to work.
Is there a downside to neurodivergence and what are the benefits?
Don’t be fooled, time and resources are needed up front and in the early days to identify ways to minimise any potential difficulties.
There are, however, clear benefits and competitive advantages to investing in employees who think differently. Positive attributes commonly associated with neurodivergent employees include:
- Creativity and innovation
- Lateral thinking
- Strategic analysis
- Bringing a ‘different perspective’
- Development of highly specialised skills
- Consistency and accuracy of tasks once mastered
- Staff Retention
Are your customers neurodiverse too?
Remember that it is estimated that around 15% of the UK population are neurodivergent. Therefore, supporting neurodiversity within the workplace can make it easier to identify and provide the support that your neurodivergent customers need too!