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Neurodiversity Inclusion - Top Tips for Employers and Employees

If you add up all of the neurodiverse conditions, almost half of the workforce are probably affected.

A CIPD survey poll showed that 72% of HR professionals don’t consider neurodiversity within their people-management strategies, and 17% don’t know whether they do.

Therefore, it is not a surprise that some people are not being supported to perform at their best. Here are some of the tips that have been shared with us:

Tips for Employers:

  • Understand neurodiversity and the different types - The Brain Charity has a great resource library.

  • Don’t believe stereotypes: While group reference terms such as ‘autistic’ and ‘dyslexic’ are often helpful – and embraced by individuals with these thinking styles – it’s important to note that no two people are alike. Often, an entire neurodivergent demographic is inaccurately stereotyped, with generalisations made across the whole group: for example that autistic people do not enjoy social interaction, or that ADHDers cannot focus.

  • Don’t make negative assumptions. Playing to an individual's strength(s) is smart. Be neurodiversity smart.

  • Ask the individual. Be proactively inclusive. Often people know what they need to thrive and just need to be asked or provided access to this support.

  • Remove barriers a typical work environment may include:

    • Office lighting: bright office lights can be distracting and can contribute to sensory overload. Neurodivergent employees could be given a workspace away from such lighting, and with more natural light.

    • Noise levels: noisy open plan environments can also be highly distracting. HR can assign neurodivergent employees a desk in a quieter area or even a private office, and allow the use of headphones or earplugs.

    • Equipment: computer screens can be too bright and desks may lack items to aid personal organisation, such as trays and filing drawers. Equipment such as photocopiers should have visible instructions nearby, as this is likely to be helpful to individuals with dyspraxia – and, as so often, for all employees.

  • Do provide Assistive technologies and importantly, technical support for it.

  • Network groups can be beneficial for sharing strategies etc. Inclusive Neurodiverse Workplaces tend to have strong Leadership, advocacy and allyship.

  • Be very specific about the outcome(s) and timeline(s) you’re expecting

  • Avoid mandatory/ forced social gatherings AND provide as much detail as possible about such events so it is not guesswork or a surprise.

The Thinking Differently at Work Toolkit has many suggestions for employers.

Main Source: Neurodiversityweek


Tips for Individuals:

  • Ask for any adjustments which you feel can optimise your working environment and your productivity; reduction of light, heat, foot traffic, noise (noise reduction headphones)

  • Ensure that you are clear on expectations of you. Ask for these in writing or take notes of conversations and ideally have them confirmed with appropriate deadlines.

  • Set yourself reminders; in your calendar or alarms on your phone etc. This can help to keep to deadlines, especially if you chunk or divide your work into sections.

  • Allocate yourself time slots of uninterruptible focus time, helping to minimise interruptions.

  • Take regular movement breaks (and hydrate). Think of brain breaks or movement breaks as tools to encourage a task vs breaks from work.

  • Investigate tools and assistive technologies that may help you, anything from noise cancelling headphones to real time voice transcription tools.

  • Know that it is ok to ask questions in order to get clarity. It can be the most efficient way to deliver what is required.

  • Give (or ask for) time to process any new activities or processes.

  • Where possible find roles that suit your strengths.

  • Collaboration and representation can be very powerful, so starting or joining a network group within your workplace or outside it if necessary can be very beneficial in terms of sharing experiences and getting techniques to try.


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