blonde haired employee with adhd bored at a computer
Blonde haired employee with adhd bored at a computer
Lifestyle

7 Big Reasons Your Employee With ADHD Doesn’t Have a Disability

If you work alongside someone who can’t concentrate for more than three seconds, never does the cleaning, and can’t stop playing on their phone, then stop and think for a second.

What’s really happening to your employees with ADHD? Are your underperforming employees showing poor performance in conducting the most essential functions or is there more going on than you first thought?

Working alongside an ADHD employee underperforming is a challenge for any management team, especially if other mental health conditions are in play as they are so often. But finding out they have a disability (note: we hate that term) makes it harder for many managers to make effective accommodations and adhere to legal requirements.

So before we delve into our seven reasons, let’s take a closer look at working with employees with ADHD and why there are issues in the first place.

Why Do Workplace Issues Arise?

When an employee receives a diagnosis of ADHD, they feel that to many managers it becomes an inconvenience. Traditionally, managers look at the recommendations, implement them, then treat the staff member like everyone else and leave them to fend for themselves.

But then some employers go too far the other way, completely misunderstand the guidelines and move into “TMI/you’re not my mother/I am capable you know, I just struggle to function sometimes” territory.

See where the issue is here? It’s no surprise that so many employees with ADHD see standards of performance slip over time. Should you treat employees all the same as everyone else, or give special dispensation on the basis of disability?

Well, let’s work it out. Straight from someone who has been there as an employee with ADHD and a manager, here are seven reasons why an ADHD employee underperforming may in fact become your biggest success with a little help and support.

Black-haired girl employee with ADHD concentrating on computer

Black-haired employee with ADHD concentrating on computer

1. Their Disability Is an Ability

Well, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder results in an inability to function, otherwise known as Executive Dysfunction. Suppose your employee can’t finish a task, and their poor time management causes employer hardship, ending up in a poor performance review. Your employee with ADHD doesn’t always see themselves as having a disability in the traditional sense, even though the term disability exists in the law’s eyes.

In the workplace, making reasonable accommodations for employees is a legal requirement. Indeed, that’s the case for everyone, right, no matter what their strengths and weaknesses are, especially in their daily life. You might find that all your ADHD employee needs are regular check-ins and more positive reinforcement. And in that way, they’re no different from your other employees.

But don’t ignore their struggles. Mental health conditions are prevalent in those the adult population in the workplace, and adults with ADHD are no different in that respect.

ADHD brains are as complex at the best of times. That said, there’s nothing more demotivating for someone that has executive dysfunction than being made to feel like the negative repercussions define them. Let their unique talents and personality define them instead of for a change.

2. Your Employee With ADHD Thinks Outside the Box

ADHD employees succeed in their creativity because they see things from a different perspective. They’re able to connect disparate ideas and are great when it comes to problem-solving during complex projects. When people with ADHD develop a new way of doing something, they often come up with something nobody’s ever thought of before.

That said, many do struggle with distractions and sensory overload. Often the distractions come from being in a very sociable environment. Given the chance, many with ADHD would thrive in a private office where they’re able to step out for regular breaks without triggering poor performance.

What potential employer wouldn’t want such an individual employee in their arsenal? Chances are it’s in your job description when you recruit your staff, after all!

3. ADHD Employees Succeed in Difficult Times

An ADHD employee underperforming at work often struggles to follow routine schedules. It’s also why, for many with ADHD, pre-agreed accommodation is a perceived waste of time. As a result, overall job performance suffers, which can have a knock-on effect on individual employees, especially if there’s a mutual reliance on getting the job done.

To counteract this, those with ADHD are great in a crisis. In a workplace where impulsive behavior is essential, people with ADHD have become very adaptable. They excel in understanding how to cope with sudden changes in plans or other unexpected tasks that might crop up at any time.

Emergency services are a prime example of this at work. It’s also why people with ADHD are drawn to high-energy workplaces such as the stock exchange. Despite office noises typically distracting staff members with short attention spans, in these environments it acts as white noise and brings huge benefits for employees with ADHD in their ability to hyperfocus.

Major life activities don’t phase the employee with ADHD. Especially when they’ve found the best ADHD medication that suits their needs. It’s spending three hours trying to find a clean sock that they left on top of the lawnmower that bothers them more.

4. They’re Enthusiastic

Because people with ADHD are so enthusiastic, they have boundless energy that makes them exciting to be around. Many ADHD employees succeed because they fit the morning person’s stereotypical mould; their brain switches on straight away or gets tired more quickly because of their hyperactive mind (aka their enthusiasm). Still, people with ADHD always put 100% effort into what they’re doing.

Not only that, you’ll often find they’re some of the most passionate about embracing diversity in the workplace and boosting morale amongst staff. As a by-product of their own in-built rewards systems, they’ll take on the role of employee caregivers and embrace those who need closer supervision.

5. They are Good at Multitasking. Sometimes.

People with ADHD learn how to deal with unexpected tasks because they have to do that all the time. As a result, when faced with a new challenge that requires them to switch from one activity to another, ADHD employees succeed at tasks they’re interested in. They may not always be great at finishing tasks, but as part of a crisis team, they’re experts at moving on to another task if needed.

If you find your employee is struggling, take a look at employee assistance programs. These are designed to help employees manage their workloads and improve productivity, and in some cases (such as Access to Work in the UK) they are government funded. So it’s well worth a look!

Many also struggle with time management. Which is great when they’re in the zone, but can result in a late arrival to work or clients. So making sure you provide essential functions such as flexible scheduling, day planners and flexible deadlines over a set period of time is a must. 

6. They Make Great Team Players

People with ADHD thrive on teamwork. Because they’re so enthusiastic and like to help others with their tasks, they enjoy being part of a team. And, let’s not forget the Executive Dysfunction in an ADHD employee underperforming means they’ve had to spend their whole life working as a team, even doing everyday tasks.

Their creativity also comes with a big heart and a thirst for fun. Often, with effective accommodation for their needs in the workplace, many individuals with disabilities can boost staff morale and improve mental health conditions and wellbeing across the entire team. 

7. They’re Not Afraid to Try New Things

People with ADHD are willing to take on new and unusual tasks. It is because they like to be the ones doing things that everyone else is doing differently. They love to be involved in projects that are a little out of the ordinary and like to be the first person who has tried it before.

So sometimes, what you might see as poor performance could be your employee trying something new to see whether it improves performance. Of course, there are conduct standards to be upheld in certain industries. But when channelled in a healthy manner, embracing your employee’s initiative might be the best employment decision you made for the future of your business.

An ADHD Employee Underperforming Can Transform Into an Indispensable Employee With ADHD

The rewards of having an employee with ADHD working for your business are huge. As you can see, people with ADHD make great employees if they’re in an environment that understands their needs. Embrace that employee victory.

By focusing on the strengths of underperforming employees by allowing them to thrive, you’ll find your business flourishes. Plus, many of those issues you once had no longer exist, or at worst, are manageable with the proper care. For the greatest leaders, it becomes an opportunity worth seizing, no matter how high the mountain.

If the type of accommodations made in the workplace support and empower your neurodivergent colleague to overcome any obstacles that come their way, they’ll be the most valuable person in your business, and the most rewarding employment decision you make.

Keep reading for more information on the difficulties for people with ADHD in the workplace and the most common questions people ask!

 

Enthusiastic adhd employees jumping in the hair

An ADHD employee underperforming can transform into an overnight success with the right support

 

 

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Neurodadversity
30-Something Millennial with ADHD and suspected Autistic and Dyspraxic. Thought leader behind this website. Big visions of a better future for everyone, but forgets where he is half the time.Loves Rugby, his kids, and anything silly. Hates U2 and Marmite.

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