Make Neurodiversity Part of Your Culture of Belonging

June 21, 2024
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Neurodiversity in the workplace is a topic gaining recognition and importance. With an estimated one in seven people thought to be neurodivergent (including conditions such as autism, ADHD, and dyslexia), embracing neurodiversity can give you a competitive advantage. So, it’s important that companies support neurodiverse employees to help create a culture of belonging. Here, we highlight the benefits of employing a neurodiverse workforce and practical steps organizations can take to support it.

Practical Steps to Support Neurodiversity

Embracing neurodiversity requires a commitment to creating an inclusive workplace where everyone can thrive. By doing so, organizations can tap into a wealth of untapped potential and drive positive change.

  • Revamp Hiring Practices: Look beyond traditional interview processes. Consider non-interview assessment methods that focus on skills and abilities rather than social interactions.
  • Accommodate Individual Needs: Provide flexible work hours, quiet workspaces, and assistive technologies. Tailor accommodations to meet the specific requirements of neurodivergent employees.
  • Clear Communication: Use direct and explicit language. Avoid vague instructions. When mistakes occur, provide private feedback to help neurodiverse employees learn and improve.
  • Mentorship and Peer Support: Establish mentorship programs connecting neurodivergent employees with experienced colleagues. This support system can enhance their professional growth.
  • Engage with Community Groups: Collaborate with organizations experienced in working with people with different ways of working. Learn from their expertise and build partnerships.

Recommended Reading

In “How to ADHD,” author Jessica McCabe eloquently articulates a narrative shared by many with ADHD: the stress experienced when they struggle against their brains rather than harnessing their potential. In fact, 24 percent of all employees who take sick leave due to stress-related illness are diagnosed with ADHD.1 The pursuit of normalcy often forces individuals with ADHD to battle their innate behaviors instead of leveraging them to their advantage. Too often, they also fail to recognize these behaviors as symptoms of ADHD, further complicating their ability to address them effectively.

McCabe’s book serves as a beacon, shining light on the myriad challenges faced by individuals with ADHD in a world ill-equipped to support them. Through evidence-based skills, strategies, and advice, she empowers readers to both manage symptoms and unlock their true potential, from work to relationships and self-care.

Written in an engaging and approachable style, “How to ADHD demystifies the struggles that those with ADHD encounter, particularly in the workplace. Did you know that rejection sensitivity and hyperfocus are both symptoms of ADHD? Understanding these lesser-known symptoms not only brings awareness but also equips readers with practical tools to mitigate their impact and embrace the strengths of the ADHD mind.

Here are some of the tools and practices she details that we found particularly useful:

Plan for Regulation:

Recognize Early Signs: The initial step involves recognizing the early signs of burnout or dysregulation.
Identify Effective Strategies: Determine the tools and strategies that work best for managing stress and create an actionable plan.

Get Community Support:

Connect with Peers: Seek out individuals within your organization or in similar roles who can relate to your experiences. Utilize these relationships to share strategies, discuss challenging situations, and simply vent. This fosters a supportive environment and diminishes any associated stigma.

Understand ADHD in Management and Potential Hurdles to Disclosure.

Recognize the various reasons why individuals with ADHD may be hesitant to disclose their condition. McCabe outlines several primary factors:

  • Past experiences of having their diagnosis used against them
  • Lack of awareness or diagnosis of ADHD
  • Resistance to the notion of being “fixed”
  • Feelings of insecurity in discussing the topic
  • Emotional sensitivity and potential triggers associated with the subject

How to ADHD offers invaluable advice on addressing concerns, providing feedback, and enhancing communication. Crucially, it fosters an understanding of how the ADHD mind operates and how to leverage its unique strengths, creativity, and diverse thinking.

“Neurodiversity may be every bit as crucial for the human race as biodiversity is for life in general. Who can say what form of wiring will be best at any given moment?”
— Harvey Blume, The Atlantic

At RHR, we understand the crucial role that a culture of belonging plays in organizational success. Our Belonging team specializes in helping organizations benchmark their current standing and design customized plans to cultivate an inclusive environment. By partnering with us, you’ll access expertise that enhances employee satisfaction, performance, and overall organizational cohesion. Our proven strategies not only boost morale but also foster collaboration, innovation, and a sense of purpose among workforces. Invest in creating a culture of belonging and watch as your organization thrives with engaged, empowered, and motivated employees.

1. Brattberg G. (2006). PTSD and ADHD: underlying factors in many cases of burnout. Stress and Health 22: 305-313