How to Create a Friendly Workplace for Neurodivergent Employees
Understanding neurodiversity is essential for creating an open-minded environment where workers feel accepted and empowered to do their best work. It allows employers to recognise each team member’s unique needs and capabilities, including those with a neurodivergent condition such as ADHD, Autism Spectrum Condition (ASC), Tourette Syndrome, Dyslexia or Dyspraxia. As such, managers and employers should strive to create a workplace culture that is positively sensitive to the needs of neurodivergent employees – a neurodiversity-friendly workplace.
Bring in a specialist to speak about neurodiversity
While the concept of neurodiversity has taken on a greater significance in recent years, many team members may still need a better impression of what neurodiversity stands for and how it should be addressed in the workplace. For example, others may misconstrue neurodiversity as ignoring the needs of neurodiverse individuals or, even worse, claiming they don’t need any help.
The best approach is to bring in a specialist from the outside who can inform people about what neurodiversity means and how it should be appropriately handled in the workplace. Set a specific calendar for the specialist to visit each year and ensure that all employees are in a position to attend the neurodiversity training. Enna delivers specialist neurodiversity training, feel free to take a look at our available workshops.
Support employees in disclosing their condition
It’s essential to create an environment in which neurodivergent employees feel comfortable discussing their conditions if they so choose. This means providing support and guidance for those who wish to do so without judgement or repercussions. One way of accomplishing this is by ensuring that the HR department’s relevant staff members are well-informed about neurodiversity and can provide support and advice to employees.
Peace and privacy
Neurodivergent individuals may need extra time and space to adjust and manage workflow. For example, they may need extra breaks throughout the day or even a quiet workplace away from distractions and noise. Employers should provide these facilities where possible to allow neurodivergent individuals to work efficiently.
Create a positive working environment
Creating an open, accepting atmosphere is essential for supporting all employees – not just those who are neurodivergent. Encouraging a workplace culture celebrating diversity and inclusion will foster respect and acceptance among colleagues. Managers should also ensure that staff are treated fairly and respectfully, regardless of their neurodiversity status. Furthermore, employers should look for ways to ensure that all employees feel valued, supported and heard.
Flexibility of task
Employers should look for ways to allow employees to work in a manner that best suits them, such as flexible hours or remote working. Some flexibility approaches include:
- Offering deadline options
- Providing alternatives to submitting written work
- Allowing flexible hours
- Offering remote working options
- Providing access to assistive technology
- Allowing for trial and error approaches
Providing access to assistive technology
Many neurodivergent individuals will benefit from using assistive technology, such as dictation software, from helping them complete tasks. Employers should provide access to this technology and ensure team members are aware of its availability. Furthermore, employers may want to consider investing in more comprehensive workplace accommodations, such as adjustable workstations or ergonomic furniture, to ensure that all employees can work in a safe and comfortable environment.
Creating a neurodiversity-friendly workplace is essential if employers wish to ensure that all team members can work in an environment conducive to their needs. By taking the necessary steps outlined above, employers can create an environment that is more welcoming and understanding of neurodivergent individuals, fostering openness and acceptance among colleagues.