Top tips for supporting neurodiversity in the workplace
REBA’s recent webinar on supporting the rising focus on neurodiversity provided a host of tips on how to get started with increasing inclusion and wellbeing across neurodiverse talent groups.
Read on for a selection of top tips from our panel, featuring Jan Vickery, wellbeing propositions category lead at AXA Health; Nikki Roche, senior benefits consultant at Amazon; and Lisa Fitch, director international benefits at Comcast, on how to begin with supporting neurodiversity in the workplace.
Start the conversation. This can help to raise awareness and bring more understanding about the challenges that neurodiverse employees face, but also highlight and celebrate the advantages of a neurodiverse workforce. It can also help to encourage employees to disclose that they are neurodiverse, if they haven’t already done so.
Establish a neurodiversity network. This helps to identify those in an organisation that have personal experience of neurodiversity or who are interested in the topic. This in turn not only provides peer-to-peer support for those who need it, but can also inform the organisation about the types of practical support it can put in place.
Review diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) policies. Ensure your DEI policies include neurodiversity so that it is taken into account in an organisation’s approach to managing employees, understanding suitable adjustments and when procuring employee benefits.
Communications should be clear and use plain English to ensure they are as inclusive as possible.
Establish meeting etiquette, such as sending relevant agendas and documents to participants ahead of time to help them process information in advance, rather than on the spot. Breaks during longer meetings (particularly virtual meetings) are also key.
Provide quiet areas so that people can focus and concentrate, and also break away from busier spaces.
Adjustments shouldn’t be universal, but individual. As Roche said: “Don’t be worried about having to make lots of changes, just think pragmatically.” The key is to speak to those who have disclosed to find out what helps them to work at their best.
Provide access to assessments. If individuals aren’t sure what adjustments they need, or perhaps haven’t had a formal diagnosis, an occupational health assessment as part of the benefits package could be advantageous. In addition, some medical insurance provides diagnosis services for those with undiagnosed neurodiverse traits.
Update recruitment processes to ensure job profiles are more precise and interview assessment techniques are fair. For example, can interview questions be sent in advance? Ask whether it is necessary and relevant to the role that interviewees must be able to answer questions on the spot. Consider assessments that are based on simulated work tasks, which might provide a more valuable insight into a person’s abilities.
Consider mental wellbeing. Neurodiverse people are at higher risk of poor mental wellbeing and so employers need to be mindful of this group, and understand that they might need additional support in this area.
The term neurodiversity encompasses a wide range of mental orientations, including but not limited to autism, dyslexia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, dysgraphia, dyspraxia, Tourette syndrome and Down’s syndrome.
Our panellists highlighted that charities are a great place to start for information and guidance on how to address neurodiversity in the workplace. Below is a small selection of the resources available:
British Dyslexia Association: Employer - British Dyslexia Association (bdadyslexia.org.uk)
National Autistic Society: Employing autistic people (autism.org.uk)
ADHD UK: ADHD and Work | ADHD UK