At Fusion, we work with employers to help them support a wide range of employees with many physical and mental health issues.
You’ve probably heard of the term “neurodiversity” and you might have wondered what it means and how it might affect some of your staff.
We want to help people understand the concept of neurodiversity more easily and provide some advice on how you can support employees with learning and thinking differences.
The idea of neurodiversity has been around for a while.
The term was coined in 1998 by an Australian sociologist named Judy Singer, who is autistic herself.
It basically means that people’s brain differences are simply that; differences.
Most people are neurotypical, meaning that the brain functions and processes information in the way society expects.
The concept of neurodiversity suggests that conditions like ADHD, dyslexia, dyspraxia and autism are just variations of the human brain, rather than “abnormalities”.
It’s just a case of people’s brains being “wired” slightly differently. This is known as being “neurodiverse” or “neurodivergent”.
Most importantly, the idea of neurodiversity views brain differences as being normal. So, people with learning and thinking differences should be considered as naturally diverse learners, rather than having something “wrong” with them.
The concept of neurodiversity seeks to celebrate the strengths of these differences, making it easier for all neurodiverse people to contribute equally, especially in the workplace.
For example, someone who is dyslexic may have a particular strength when it comes to problem solving. Whereas someone with dyspraxia could be better at active listening.
Diversity relates to everyone rather than individuals.
So the entire concept behind neurodiversity is the idea that we’re all neurodiverse in some way, even if we might be classed as “neurotypical”.
In fact, it’s estimated that more than 15% of people in the UK have some form of learning or thinking difference.
While the workplace is becoming a more diverse place, according to the National Autistic Society, only 16% of autistic adults in the UK are in full-time employment.
More organisations are recognising the importance of employing and supporting neurodiverse people.
It can be difficult to know what adjustments a business might need to make in order to support employees with learning and thinking differences.
Here are four ways that business can ensure that their neurodiverse employees are getting the help and support they need in the workplace.
Personalisation is key to supporting neurodiverse employees. It’s not about what works for the business, but what works for the employee.
Organisations should create an open culture that encourages people to feel comfortable enough to talk about any issues they may be facing.
It’s vital that managers listen to the needs of their staff and research what reasonable adjustments are needed.
While some employees might be happy working in a busy, noisy environment, others can find it almost impossible to focus. Especially those who are neurodiverse.
You can reduce distractions and obstacles in the design of your office by:
Employers can provide assistance by improving the training and development of staff.
This could include creating neurodiversity champions, mentoring or buddy programmes, support networks for neurodivergent employees or highlighting specific awareness events, such as World Autism Awareness Week.
A business can make its recruitment process more inclusive by:
A business can encourage neurodiverse employees more effectively by:
You can find more advice and guidance on the acas website and the CIPD website.
If you want to find out how our occupational health services can help to support neurodiversity and diverse thinkers in the workplace, get in touch with the team at Fusion.
Posted by Louise Grieb on
29 March 2021 at 9:00 AM
Mental HealthOccupational Health