7 Tips for Working with Neurodivergent Employees

Call center agent or telemarketing employee consulting a business man and talking about company growth. Happy male customer service employee in training with an HR manager at the office

Last Updated on

May 3rd, 2024 11:29 am

Did you know that only 22% of autistic adults are employed? And that’s despite an insurgence in late diagnosis as many in the existing job market are starting to realize that their neurodivergence may have been hiding from view all along. Even the most inclusive employers struggle to accommodate for new challenges and recommendations for neurodivergent employees.

But the good news is that as a result, more are recognizing that different types of employees require different approaches to management, communication, and job requirements. Neurodivergent individuals are typically diagnosed with some form of neurodiversity such as (not exclusively) Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Autism Spectrum Disorder, or Dyslexia.

If you suspect you have neurodiverse people in your workforce, or an employee has disclosed a developmental disability such as ADHD or Autism Spectrum Disorder, implement our 7 necessary steps to make sure your employees (and potential candidates) are getting the support they truly deserve.

Communication and Performance Feedback Improves Engageent

The most important thing to remember is that neurodiverse people think differently, which means they have different workplace needs and requirements. The best way to communicate with your neurodivergent employee is to be open and honest with them.

This will allow them to feel more comfortable in the workplace and better understand how you want them to approach their job. In order to communicate effectively, speak slowly and use clear language. The same goes for neurodiverse job candidates in interviews too, offering accommodations to show you’re putting their needs first.

Make sure you ask neurodiverse individuals for input on how you can get the most out of their unique skill set, since everyone is unique. Keep in mind that neurodivergent workers might need more frequent feedback than other employees do. They might also need help sorting through their emotions in the workplace, which can be helped by having a team member available during certain hours of the day.

Provide Flexible Scheduling to Improve Mental Health in the Workplace

One of the easiest ways for you to meet the needs of the neurodivergent professionals is to provide a flexible work environment. A flexible workplace environment can include a variety of options for employees including working remotely, coming into the office early and/or leaving late, or taking time off during certain times. Arrange as many choices as possible so that employees with different needs have options that meet them.

Another helpful method would be to create an open-door policy in your office space. This would allow employees to have direct communication with their managers or other team members without going through a layer of management first.

There are plenty of other things you can do to help neurodivergent people succeed in the workplace such as providing extra training, meeting with them regularly to discuss progress and future plans, and brainstorming new ideas or projects together.

businesswoman presenting a meeting in a boardroom

Regular meetings with neurodivergent employees can boost morale and productivity

Introduce Support Systems Into the Working Environment

The first step to integrating the neurodivergent employee is showing them that you care. It’s important to provide the office with a support system that can help neurodivergent people work better and feel comfortable in their environment.

It’s also important for managers to recognize when certain tasks are better suited for certain employees. For example, a manager might want someone who is more task-oriented to handle specific assignments at work while somebody with a greater focus on relationships might be better suited for another role or job.It’s also important to make sure that the office supports your employees with accommodations.

If you suspect one of your employees may have difficulty focusing, consider providing them with something they can use during their down-time at work such as noise-canceling headphones, or use of quiet spaces. That is just example of how you can make it easier for your neurodivergent employees to work and feel comfortable in their environment.

Embrace an Inclusive Culture without Disability Discrimination

One of the best things you can do to help your neurodivergent employee is to embrace an inclusive workplace environment that accommodates for all neurological differences and allows everyone to develop their skills by trying new things. An inclusive environment isn’t restricted to time in the office; it might include providing them with a work-from-home option or offering flexible hours, so they can work on their own terms.

You can also offer incentives for completing tasks, such as earning a bonus for each task completed. If your employee doesn’t understand what people want from them, use this as an opportunity to teach them how different parts of their job affect the company.

Utilise Autistic People to Help Develop Skill Sets for All Colleagues

A common misconception is that many neurodivergent workers are stuck in their ways and aren’t interested in learning new things. In fact, these employees are often highly trained and have special skills. It’s important to provide them with the tools they need to feel comfortable with any change you feel necessary. The most important thing you can do for your neurodiverse employees is to help them learn new tasks quickly and efficiently.

That will make it easier for them to fit into the company culture and offer a better overall experience for all involved. Some effective ways of training your neurodivergent employee include providing clear job descriptions, making room for frequent breaks during the workday, offering regular feedback on performance and using checklists.

Allow Access to Tools that Help with Executive Functioning and Social Interaction

Some Autistic people or employees with ADHD may focus primarily on one thing and perform that task extremely well; however, others may struggle with focusing on one thing for extended periods of time. Autistic people at work may also be more resistant to following a set of rules and regulations.. They might find it difficult to sit at their desk for long periods of time or understand what other people expect from them during certain times of day.

If your office requires a specific seating arrangement (i.e., cube), then make sure that space is provided and that it can easily accommodate the needs of all neurodiverse professionals. For example, a large desk might be uncomfortable for them because they need their hands free to do tasks while sitting at the desk. Ask your staff to give input on how you can better accommodate the neurodivergent employee’s needs during work hours.

Sensory overload is a big issue for many people with disabilities, especially when these affect social skills and ability to perform tasks. Consider having a separate area in your office that’s designated for breaks, lunch, and other things necessary for Autistic individuals who need more space away from their desk than neurotypical employees.

businesswoman working on a tablet

iPads are a great additiion to the workplace as they allow working while moving around

Next, make sure to provide your employee with a computer (preferably a laptop for mobility) that meets their needs. Some people might be more sensitive to bright colors while others may be more sensitive to sound so make sure you know what you’re looking for when it comes to picking out the right computer.

For neurodiverse employees who find it difficult to focus or stay on task, consider giving them an electronic device like headphones instead of requiring them to work in silence. This will allow them time away from neurotypical people and give them the ability to work uninterrupted without worrying about someone distracting or taking away from their concentration.

Additionally, consider providing your employees with accessibility tools that can help them succeed in meetings by tracking their progress and providing reminders as needed. If they have trouble managing time or staying focused during meetings, this is beneficial for helping them succeed in these settings.

Focus Your Attention on Nurturing Talents of Individual Autistic Employees

Neurodiverse people, Autistic individuals in particular, have a plethora of talents that allow them to thrive in your business. They tend to be very detail-oriented and love working with numbers. They are also great problem solvers and excel at creative thinking.

These skills can be used to create a positive work environment for everyone. Make sure to take advantage of these qualities by encouraging your autistic employees to participate in projects that require creativity and attention to detail. Additionally, if you notice that your autistic employee has a knack for sales, encourage them to sell products and services to customers.

Many companies are now offering autism awareness programs that teach employees how to interact with neurodiverse individuals and understand their needs. Maybe you can offer your employee the opportunity to spearhead a campaign within the business or take on a role heading diversity and inclusion!

Combine All These Strategies To Cultivate Neurodivergent Talent

It’s no surprise that devoting attention to employees and making them feel valued improves job performance. From implementing inclusive hiring practices throughout the hiring process, to supporting existing employees with disabilities, encouraging a diverse and inclusive workforce to thrive in a supportive environment should be at the core of every business.

By adopting a number of these strategies, you’ll soon find you’ve got neurodiverse talent on your team that’s loyal, committed, thinks outside the box and becomes an invaluable asset to your business beyond your imagination.

Keep reading for more inspiring content!

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Rob Butler
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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