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13 Mar 2023

Three steps to creating a workplace that is neurodivergence-friendly

ADHD is an often misunderstood condition that employers can use to their advantage

Three steps to creating a neurodiversity-friendly workplace.jpg 1

 

People with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) tend to earn a 17% lower income, according to reports, despite being protected under the Equality Act.

A total of 2.6 million people in the UK have ADHD. Reports suggest that they’re often underused and overqualified at work. 

Taylor Arp, US customer experience lead for insurer YuLife, says companies should embrace ADHD – not erase it. 

The misconceptions of ADHD 

“By all outward appearances, I’m your average 1990s baby with a bachelor’s degree, a wonderful husband and a great career,” says Arp. “What you can’t see is that I have an neurodevelopmental disorder.”

ADHD has many symptoms that are often invisible – including loss of focus, impulsivity and hyperactivity. But there are several positive abilities that come with it. 

Recently, Arp came across an article about recruiters reluctant to hiring neurodiverse workforces. 

“The idea that people have such a negative view of ADHD when they don’t understand how talented those with it can be didn’t sit well with me,” Arp says. 

So, she shared a LinkedIn post highlighting all the reasons ADHD should be viewed as a strength in the workplace, rather than a hindrance. She explains how the condition builds resilience, creativity, conflict-resolution skills and more. 

“I was stunned by the response,” she says. “Colleagues worldwide reached out in support, to learn more, or to share that they, too, have ADHD. It was magical to be embraced and valued for something I’ve grown used to being shamed for.”

Three steps

“The most crucial thing HR leaders can do to cultivate a neurodiversity-friendly workplace is to be open-minded and willing to learn,” says Arp. 

1. Start with the hiring process

“Interviews are intimidating for everyone and nerves can get in the way of candidates performing at their best. Try making your process more casual and spend time getting to know your applicants first,” says Arp.

Apple’s Steve Jobs famously said about recruiting: “When I decide to hire or not, I always ask myself if … I like their company.” A casual chat with a candidate might be a meaningful way to gauge the kind of person they are.

Not only do you want the most skilled talent, but you also want the best people, and a casual chat is a great way to ensure they’re a good fit for your company culture. 

2. Trust your team to define what works best for them

“Understanding that everyone works differently is key to getting the best out of your team. I work better at home and in the evening because I can control my environment and minimise distractions,” says Arp.

“Some employees may be anxious about commuting during rush hour, while others may thrive in an office environment. Trusting your team to choose what works best will empower them to put forth their best effort and produce high-quality work.” 

3. Remember that people are different

Arp says: “Each employee and career path are unique, so avoid pre-defined growth standards. Learn about your team and ask questions. The fear of being judged for asking for more precise instructions, due dates and time between meetings to re-group, can deter employees from speaking up.

“Another idea to consider is implementing an internal mentee/mentor programme to support your culture and increase loyalty,” she says.

“By creating a caring and safe work environment, you can enable your team to reach their full potential, whatever that may look like. As you embark on this neurodiversity journey, remember to keep an open mind and trust that your employees will continue to meet deadlines and succeed, even with a hands-off approach.”

In partnership with yulife

YuLife is the first digital life insurance provider on a mission to inspire life.

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