Neurodiversity is the future.
The world has been influenced and shaped by people who are thought to have neurodivergent brains - environmental activist Greta Thunberg, code breaker Alan Turing, entrepreneur Richard Branson, environmentalist Charles Darwin, painter Vincent Van Goch and the composer Mozart.
The Neurodivergent brain offers a different perspective and thought process that can open up new opportunities for business, setting them apart from the rest.
So how can you embrace these skills?
It is estimated that 1 in 8 individuals are neurodivergent (Autism (ASD), ADHD, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia and Dyscalculia). As a society we are beginning to understand that we don’t all think and process information in the same way, and this spectrum of ideas can be really advantageous in the workplace. For example, there is an affinity between an ASD mindset and problem-solving, a skillset that benefits technology-based industries e.g. engineering and cyber security.
Although it’s desirable to be more inclusive and integrate neurodiversity into the workplace, in practice its often very patchy and people who are neurodivergent tend to be excluded. As a result, many camouflage their condition, which is exhausting for them, and limits their ability to work effectively.
Inappropriate management can lead to stress and anxiety for those that are already struggling to deal with normal day-to-day events.
Are you doing enough?
There are many misconceptions surrounding neurodiversity. Most conditions are spectrum-based which means each individual has different needs.
Listen to them and adapt their environment to support their needs where appropriate. For example:
- Discuss how different working hours might help, by avoiding the rush hour commute, for example, as crowds and loud noises can create anxiety.
- Some people might find change more difficult to adapt to, so sudden updates to the office layout might be disruptive or hot desking might not work for them.
- Talk to them about the position of their desk e.g. is the air conditioning bothering them, can they access the resources they need, is the lighting OK etc.
Also, you need to change the way you recruit.
- Flag that jobs are open to neurodivergents.
- Get rid of presentation style interviews.
- Stop testing for social skills when they are not required in that role.
Certain companies have autism-specific graduate programmes, which, although the recruitment process is great, typically fail when it comes to the working environment.
The winning formula.
Don’t sit back and wait. By 2025, three quarters of the workforce will be millennials and one of the questions in their interviews will be ‘’What’s your position on people who are neurodivergent?”
Businesses need to embrace neurodiversity and adapt to the specific needs of individuals. By taking advantage of this relatively untapped resource today, you can create a sustainable, forward-thinking, diverse business for the future.
What are you waiting for? Get started.
Discover more about how to appreciate diversity in the workplace.