What is Neurodiversity and why is it good for business?



By Adam Tobias (Partner, Inventum Search)


I recently chaired an event for RIDI (the Recruitment Industry Disability Initiative) at Eversheds Sutherland, the international law firm.


At the event I presented on the power of neurodiversity in the workplace, the benefits, the challenges and how to attract and retain neurodiverse talent.




What is neurodiversity?


Neurodiversity is a group of atypical neurological learning and developmental conditions such as -

  • Autistic Spectrum Conditions (incl. Asperger’s Syndrome)

  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

  • Dyslexia

  • Dyspraxia

  • Dyscalculia and others...

What are the benefits of neurodiversity in the workplace?

According to a recent CIPD study, neurodiverse individuals are the most innovative and creative employee group. Innovation comes through different thinking, sometimes counter-intuitive to the norm...

  • Neurodiversity drives innovation revenue (new products /services less than 3 years old)

  • Neurodiversity fights against ‘groupthink’ – i.e. teams/groups with a limited acceptance of new ideas

  • Leadership skills – Forbes Magazine called ADHD ‘the entrepreneurs superpower!'

  • Specialist skills – JP Morgan hired a group of autistic individuals to work in an analytical team – they were 50% more productive that neurotypical staff


Do neurodiverse individuals face challenges in the workplace?

Yes. For example, only 16% of Autistic people of working age are in employment, despite the vast majority of autistic people being able (and wanting) to work.

  • Autistic people can struggle with social interaction and ambiguity in communication

  • Those with dyslexia can struggle with written work, attention to detail and memory

  • Individuals with ADHD can be disorganised and have poor timekeeping

  • Neurodiverse individuals struggle to get through standard recruitment processes


How do organisations attract neurodiverse talent?
  • The normal attraction processes don’t always work

  • Encourage applications from neurodiverse applicants through all marketing channels

  • Ensure job descriptions and specifications are clear, remove ambiguity and unessential requirements

Consider different application methods – CVs, written applications, video or audio applications, online assessments (but remove time limits), gamification selection.

Or, consider removal of interview process... offer a practical test related to the work, or working interviews and job trials are far better ways to assess than a traditional interview.


What adjustments can be made for neurodiverse individuals at work?
  • Awareness – having managers and colleagues who are aware of conditions and willing to help is the biggest single driver for success

  • Flexibility – consider different working hours, e.g. for Autistic staff who wish to avoid the stress of rush hour

  • Reduce sensory triggers – no hot desking, desk space in quieter part of the office, noise cancelling headphones for example

  • Technology – speech to text and text to speech software, autocorrect and grammatical software, remote working

  • Communication – consider concise emails for autistic staff, bullet points for dyslexic individuals, verbal for those with ADHD

  • Social interaction – some neurodiversity individuals don’t necessarily thrive in social situations – do they need to attend social events like work drinks and Christmas parties?

  • More often than not, adjustments cost nothing, and when they do cost, its normally very low


Adam Tobias (Partner)

Inventum Search,

Co-Founder of Wells Tobias Group

adam@inventumsearch.com

Tel: 020 3008 4335


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44 Bedford Row, London, WC1R 4LL

Tel: 020 3008 4331

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