The importance of accommodating for neurodiversity

Leeann Nash December 20th 2022 - 3 minute read

With estimations showing that roughly 15-20% of the world’s population exhibits some form of neurodivergence, it’s a safe bet that you may already employ neurodiverse staff. Neurodiversity encompasses a wide range of conditions, from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), or many other conditions including Dyslexia and Dyspraxia.

With quite a sizeable amount of people falling under this umbrella, accommodation is key for any business who wishes to welcome neurodivergent talent. These practices can bring scores of benefits to your business, both in terms of general happiness, but also in a wider sense of perspectives for your business.

Let’s explore the topic in more detail. In this article, we’ll be examining the benefits of a neurodiverse workforce and how accommodating for neurodivergence in your workforce can benefit all employees.

What neurodiversity can bring to your workplace

Neurodiverse people are traditionally underrepresented within the workforce. Reports suggest only 16% of adults with autism are in full time employment so there is certainty scope for improvement.

Autism Europe has suggested that improving neurodiversity among the workforce could bolster some much-needed skillsets. They posit that while people with the condition can struggle with social interaction, communication, and certain aspects of cognitive functioning, they are predisposed to higher levels of concentration, can excel at repetitive tasks, and often hold detailed knowledge and technical skill.

People with dyslexia are also often seen to have more creative mindsets and are able to provide the ability to think further outside of the box on average. People with ADHD have similar abilities to focus and have demonstrably creative thinking.

Deloitte, an international management consulting company, conducted research into the hiring and accommodation of neurodiverse workers. The research resulted in the paper ‘Waiter, is that inclusion in my soup?’, which detailed a simple, clear conclusion: diversity + inclusion = improved business outcomes.

Hiring, and accommodating for, neurodiverse employees can bring significant boons to your business, and creates room for a better working environment for all employees.

The curb cut effect: small change, bigger difference

Consider the ‘curb cut effect’. The theory goes that what is good for some can be good for all, relating specifically to the lowering of street curbs to account for wheelchair users.

Those ramps allow wheelchair users the ability to more easily cross-roads, which also accounts for parents pushing children in prams.

The logic follows that making accommodations for neurodiverse staff would also benefit neurotypical staff. What is good for a neurodiverse employee is good for neurotypical employees.

A key example of this is accommodating for autistic employees. By paring back communications to make them as simple and direct as possible, this accounts for difficulties an autistic employee may have with finer points of language.

The effect this has is an across-the-board improvement in communication, as information is more easily and quickly shared without room for misunderstandings.

While ‘cutting the curb’ does require time, training, and dedication it can have an incredibly positive impact on your business’ working environment. Comfort for employees is closely linked with upticks in productivity and loyalty, and these changes can bring about a more comfortable environment for all.

Fighting the stigma

With neurodiverse people facing consistent, employment-limiting stigma, accommodations made will assist in reducing this part of their daily lives.

The accommodations would mean directly combating the stigma in a tacit way: by creating a welcoming environment for neurodiverse employees and people, it creates a space for them to feel comfortable and respected.

By making those accommodations, you can foster a better environment for your existing employees. By engendering a workspace which welcomes people with different manners of being, you can encourage your own employees to feel more comfortable. It fosters loyalty and may boost employee retention.

Aspiritech, for example, are a quality assurance testing non-profit. Their entire workforce is comprised of people on the Autism spectrum. They currently hold a 95% employee retention rate and have a strong track record of internal hiring and promotions.

Brad Cohen, the Chief Marketing Officer, spoke about the business. He stated:

‘The staff gain a well-paying job in a suitable environment that supports their long-term employment. Everyone gains when people are given the opportunity to use their skills for meaningful, well-paying work that leads to a fully independent life.’

All for one, one for all

Accommodating for employees is important, as an increase in employee happiness brings increases in productivity, loyalty, and retention.

Neurodiversity among the workforce can also bring wider perspectives and different problem-solving methods entirely unique to that employee. This is important for any workforce, as it prevents static thinking, and can help you avoid being stuck.

Similarly, the accommodations made can bring improvements to how your business operates, but ultimately it shows that you care for your employees. Being a welcoming, inclusive business is a strong way to open up to different communities and demographics.

Written by
Leeann Nash

Select a topic: