19 Apr 2023
The term neurodiversity refers to the way that everyone’s brains work differently. Most people are considered to be neurotypical but awareness of neurodiversity and the importance of supporting employees who are neurodivergent in the workplace is growing.
Some examples of neurodiverse conditions are autism, ADHD, dyslexia, dyspraxia but this list is not exhaustive and there are a wide range of conditions to consider.
A report by the British Dyslexia Association found that dyslexic individuals in the UK face significant barriers to employment and are often underemployed or unemployed. The report found that:
- Dyslexia affects approximately 1 in 10 people in the UK, but only 3% of adults with dyslexia disclose their condition to their employer.
- Dyslexic individuals in the UK are also more likely to experience discrimination in the workplace, with 40% reporting that they had been discriminated against in some way due to their dyslexia.
- Only 22% of adults with autism are in some form of employment, and only 16% are in full-time employment (National Autistic Society).
What are the issues?
Traditional working practices and working environments can make it difficult for neurodivergent employees to thrive at work.
Neurodiverse employees often have unique skills and talents which employers can benefit from if the employees are supported correctly.
Some conditions may be regarded as a disability under the Equality Act and employers have a responsibility to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate them.
Individuals are not obliged to divulge their neurodiversity unless requesting reasonable adjustments. Therefore it is important that employers have an open-minded approach to neurodiversity to encourage employees to reach out for help if they need it.
How can employers help?
Every person is different, and any strategy should acknowledge that there is no one size fits all approach. Some common adjustments and strategies are:
Do not assume that all people with the same condition require the same adjustments. Speak to your employees to understand how best to support them. Fostering an environment in which employees feel comfortable disclosing their neurodiversity is key to this.
Provide supportive analysis of your employees condition.
Provide supportive technology and equipment such as speech to text software, dictation tools etc.
Ensure company communications are clear and accessible. This could include providing audio or video materials for alternative methods of communication.
Consider the physical environment. This can include providing a comfortable workspace, implementing flexible working hours, and offering support services such as counselling and mentoring.
Access to work funding is available through the publicly funded employment support grant provided by the DWP to help employers provide assistive equipment, coaching, adaptations to the office environment
How can we help?
Wingate can provide guidance on services that are available to employers from support from the DWP through to specialist companies who provide workplace assessments and solutions such as ToHealth, part of PAM Group.
National Autistic Society. (2016). The autism employment gap: Too much information in the workplace https://www.autism.org.uk/get-involved/media-centre/news/2016-11-08-employment-report.aspx
British Dyslexia Association. (n.d.). Employment. https://www.bdadyslexia.org.uk/adults/employment