Neurodiversity is a powerful and essential aspect of workplace diversity, but it is often overlooked. However, embracing and prioritizing the inclusion of neurodiverse employees is vital for building a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace culture.
What is Neurodiversity?
To understand the importance of neurodiversity in the workplace, you must first understand what neurodiversity is. Neurodiversity describes the variations in how the human brain processes information and how individuals experience and interact with the world.
Though neurodiversity can describe any variations in brain processing, it is most often used to describe people with specific neurological or developmental differences or learning disabilities, such as:
- Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)/ Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD)
- Bipolar Disorder
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
- Tourette’s Syndrome
- Sensory Integration Disorder
While neurodiverse variations are often classified as “disabilities,” it is more accurate to say that neurodiverse people experience challenges that can impact their ability to function in specific environments or circumstances. While neurodiverse workers may face challenges, they often possess some of the most in-demand skills in today’s working world.
Benefits of Embracing Neurodiversity in the Workplace
Neurodiverse employees have proven to add a competitive edge for their employers. Many autistic employees possess a higher-than-average ability to process and critically evaluate information rapidly. Employees with symptoms of ADD/ ADHD display the creativity, high energy, and multitasking abilities needed in many industries. Dyslexic individuals may see connections others cannot and can interpret and communicate information in a more straightforward way.
In general, neurodiverse employees are “wired” differently than neurotypical individuals, allowing them to bring fresh viewpoints and innovative ways to solve problems to their teams and company. Neurodiversity in the workplace also improves team productivity and performance metrics, fosters innovation, encourages progress and saves companies millions. Neurodiversity also benefits your company’s workplace culture and brand, improving talent attraction and retention.
Creating a Neurodiverse Workplace
Ready to improve the neurodiversity of your workplace? Here are a few tips to get you started:
- Start an employee resource group and provide a safe space for neurodiverse employees to come together.
- Evaluate your accommodation for neurodiverse workers and make information about them easily accessible.
- Embrace flexible work options.
- Provide employees with opportunities to share their preferred ways of working and collaborating.
- Educate yourself and others about neurodiversity.