A chartered psychologist is calling on employers to consider neurodivergent employees when planning where staff should work so that these individuals can thrive in the workplace.
Writing on the Diversity and Inclusion Leaders website, Dr Nancy Doyle, founder and owner of social enterprise Genius Within CIC, notes that around 15% to 20% of the global population is neurodivergent, so employers cannot afford to ignore them (Doyle, 2022).
Neurodivergence includes conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism, dyslexia and bipolar disorder.
Nancy advises employers to consider two core psychological concepts that affect most neurodivergent employees – executive dysfunction and sensory sensitivity – when planning work patterns and practices.
Executive dysfunction compromises a person’s ability to think and concentrate; in some cases, she warns, they ‘might struggle with basic admin and compliance, even when their work is creative and seemingly highly skilled’.
Those who struggle with sensory sensitivity, meanwhile, can quickly feel overwhelmed, for example, by bright colours and loud noises in the office.
Although Nancy recommends remote working, she warns that it can present its own challenges. For instance, working from home increases the neurodivergent person’s reliance on videoconferencing and written communication and this can be problematic.
Nancy points out that many people with ADHD struggle to manage their time effectively while working remotely and ‘miss the motivational boost that comes from a quick, informal chat’.
She shares some pointers so that line managers can minimise the associated risks around videoconferencing etiquette and how to best maintain a work/life balance.
Her advice is to involve affected staff in key decisions because they are more likely to buy into an approach that they have had some say in rather than one that has been forced upon them.
What are the challenges?
Nancy’s insights are important, her advice is sound, and there is clearly great value in acting on her suggestions. However, it does pose several practical challenges for line managers who are already under huge pressure to make provisions for a wide range of employee groups at a time when business resources will become increasingly stretched. What’s more, as she admits, neurodivergent employees are not a homogeneous group, so that means tailoring approaches to the individual and the costs and time associated with this.
Even with the best intentions, some line managers may find that their authority is undermined by senior management, whose priority in an uncertain economic market is the pursuit of profit over employee wellbeing.
To read the original article, visit bit.ly/BTH-neurodiversity
Image credit | iStock
Business in the Community. (2022) Your job can be good for you: backing business to revolutionise ways of working in the UK. (accessed 10 November 2022)
Doyle N. (2022) Remote and hybrid working – lessons for neurodiverse teams. Diversity and Inclusion Leaders. (accessed 10 November 2022).