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The Benefits of Neurodiversity in the Workplace

Neurodiversity is, simply put, the difference in how our brains work.

We are all neurodiverse because our brains all work differently. Those who have reached the threshold for a diagnosis are neurodivergent. Though it is worth noting that not everyone who reaches the threshold gets diagnosed, nor does a lack of reaching the threshold change that you may still have needs. These diagnoses can include ADHD, Aphantasia, Autism, Developmental Language Disorder, Dyscalculia, Dyspraxia/Developmental Coordination Disorder, Tics, Tourette’s Syndrome, and more.

Every neurodiverse individual has strengths. Some people find it difficult to recognise their own strong points, especially those who are neurodivergent, because the language around neurodiversity hasn’t been overtly positive. The world is designed by and for ‘neurotypical’ people, or those who fit within the standard bell curve of neuro-processing. This sees employers missing out on the valuable and unique perspective of neurodivergent people.

By challenging the ingrained narratives around neurodiversities there has been a recent shift in understanding and awareness which is leading us towards acceptance. Neurodivergent people are an important part of society and the workforce. If organisations can create processes and accommodations for the neurodivergent to function at their best, the organisations will reap the benefits.

Embracing neurodivergent people though a workplace culture that fosters inclusion can and will only improve an organisation. It sounds like it should be easy. Yet, history tells us that changing workplace cultures to accept ‘minorities’ is a long, difficult, and complicated process. As seen in the fact that the gender pay gap still exists, despite the hundred-and-thirty-years-plus fight for women’s equality.

That shouldn’t put you off from your neuroinclusive journey.

If you haven’t started already and need a reason to begin now; it is estimated that by 2030 approximately 22% of the workforce will be made up of Generation Z. This number will only continue to grow, and Gen Z expect inclusion. Without inclusion, without Gen Z, the workforce won’t be able to sustain itself and organisations may crumble without new employees.

This sounds drastic, and perhaps it is a worst-case scenario for organisations, but why take the risk?

Anothing thing to consider is that neurodivergent people are already in the workforce, quite often masking their traits and struggling through the day. Imagine how much better they would be if they were being supported and their needs accommodated. The annual productivity gains of one well supported employee alone could be worth as much as you spend on early initiatives. Imagine the benefits from the second person supported.

Organisations that take care of the needs of their workers whilst fostering a sense of belonging are going to benefit from the collective strength of all its employees. Inclusive workplaces are built on a culture that accepts individuality, sending the message to employees and customers that they are valued and respected for their diversity.

Neurodivergent individuals, like disabled people, are used to functioning in a society that doesn’t cater for them. By acknowledging and supporting neurodivergent employees an organisation increases its adaptability, innovation, and productivity. This is because neurodivergent people process information and interact with the world around in a way that is unique to them. By encouraging diverse thinking an organisation will impact positively on quality of work and productivity.

Research tells us that diverse organisations have better opportunities for creativity and problem-solving. This fosters innovation. There’s an increase in profits and productivity whilst also lowering employee turnover rates. External opinions of a diverse organisation include improved reputation and the perception that the organisation is fair and recognises and combats its own biases.

Decision making improves when diversity is developed because everybody has a different way of processing information and interpreting environmental input. When everybody’s voice is heard equally because a culture of belonging exists for disabled and neurodiverse people, then and only then, will the decision-making process improve. Compromise will need to occur, yet, having a multi-layered view of a situation is better than a two-dimensional approach by people with similar life experiences.

Learning to understand the way the world works, and that people view it through their own lens based on their experiences and neurodiversities, will make for a more understanding society. Neurodiversity is about recognising the different ways our brains think, learn, perceive, interact with, and process information and the world around us. When it is understood that all our brains work differently, and that, that is a beautiful thing, our workplaces and employees are better for it.