Championing neurodivergent employees in the workplace

Neurodiversity refers to natural differences in human brain function and behavioural traits. It is estimated that as many as 20% of people may be neurodivergent in some way, an umbrella term that can include those with autism, dyslexia, or ADHD. However, despite this potential figure, support and awareness of neurodiversity is lacking in many UK workplaces. One in five neurodivergent employees have experienced harassment or discrimination at work because of their neurodivergence, according to new research. Over 1000 employed adults were questioned about their working life, and 790 of those identified as neurodivergent.

The survey found that:

  • 52% of neurodivergent employees feel that either their employer or team has an open and supportive climate, where employees feel able to talk about neurodiversity.
  • 44% said it is a private matter that they do not want to share.
  • 37% said they are concerned about people making assumptions based on stereotypes. 
  • 33% say their experience at work, in relation to their neurodivergence, has had a negative impact on their mental wellbeing.

Neurodivergent employees are more likely to feel exhausted under excessive pressure and be lonelier at work than neurotypical employees. It has been argued that the design of workplaces and people management approaches have not traditionally considered neurodiversity, meaning that many employees may not be able to perform at their best.

In many employers, action is needed to create neuro-inclusive workplaces, instil effective people management processes, understanding people as individuals and the needs of the neurodiverse community. It is important that managers are trained to manage people effectively, and that conversations are held to discuss reasonable adjustments to support neurodiverse employees.  Employers are encouraged to create an open and supportive culture where people feel comfortable talking about neurodiversity.

Raising awareness among all staff of neurodiversity and the importance of a neuro-inclusive workplace can help to build understanding. Neurodiversity Celebration Week is next week – from the 18th to the 22nd March.  Lexxic are running a number of free webinars providing guidance and support to employers and individuals affected by neurodiversity. Find out more here:  2024 Events Schedule | Neurodiversity Celebration Week (neurodiversityweek.com)

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