There has long been a stigma attached to neurodiversity in the workplace, with many employers focussing on the potential challenges it brings rather than the unique benefits. Setting up an environment geared towards supporting neurodiverse employees can open up access to new pools of talent you may otherwise not have had access to.
There are already laws in place to protect the rights of employees who fall into this category, such as the right to request flexible working. But how can you further ensure that these individuals feel supported at work by senior staff members and the rest of the team? Here are three potential changes to your working policies you might consider to create a more inclusive environment to better support neurodiverse employees.
Flexibility has been a buzzword in workplaces ever since the pandemic derailed normal working arrangements for professionals across the globe. But this has always been an important aspect of working life for neurodiverse employees, and offering flexibility is one of the best ways to support these staff members.
Perhaps the individual finds they are more comfortable and more productive when working from home. In this case, consider allowing time for more remote work. Or maybe they find travelling to and from work during the rush hours particularly stressful. Allowing for earlier or later start and finish times for these individuals will mean that they can come to work in a more positive state of mind every day.
Even small changes to the office, like creating a quiet corner where no calls or general conversations are allowed, can be beneficial for not only the individual but also the team in general.
Awareness amongst workforce
Another effective way to support neurodiverse employees is by providing training and learning opportunities for the rest of your staff. A lack of knowledge around how to support and interact with different neurodiverse individuals can make it difficult for them to integrate properly with the team. This can ultimately have a negative impact on the quality of their work and their general wellbeing.
Whether you run training sessions or simply give your team access to the necessary resources, there are lots of different ways you can approach this task. Every individual’s circumstances will be different, so training and education shouldn’t be a one-off thing. Instead, make it an ongoing commitment to help create a culture where everyone feels supported at all times.
Changing the hiring process
The process of supporting neurodiverse applicants should start long before their first day in the office. Consider changing the hiring process to accommodate all different types of people, who may otherwise be at a disadvantage if the usual procedures were followed.
Your first consideration should be making the job advert as accessible as possible. Keep the person specification concise, and only ask for skills that are specifically relevant to the role. Also, be sure to include contact details for someone on the hiring team, so applicants can request any reasonable adjustments during the process or ask for clarification if anything is unclear on the advert.
At the interview stage, it can be useful to send a list of questions to applicants before meeting with them. At this point, you could also run through the interview process and ask if any adjustments need to be made. It is best practice to try and avoid any surprises on the day, which will only add to the pressure, so take the time to make sure they feel comfortable. Making these changes will give you the best chance to find the perfect fit for the role.