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Embracing Neurodivergent talent – Prof. Sriram Prabhakar

18 Aug 2023.

According to various studies, between 15 and 20 percent of the world’s population demonstrate some sort of neurodivergence. Despite efforts to advance diversity and inclusion in the workplace, some claim that neurodiversity is still being neglected.

On the spectrum of neurodivergence are conditions like autism, dyspraxia, dyslexia, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

What are some typical obstacles to employing neurodiverse talent?

The conventional interview procedure, an inhospitable working atmosphere, and a lack of awareness of the advantages of neurodiversity are the three key obstacles.

When the pressures of the typical interview are lifted, neurodiverse job applicants succeed. The interview procedure is primarily designed for individuals who are neurotypical. The ability of candidates to show themselves in the best light may be hampered by an intimidating panel interview format with numerous managers asking questions.

The greatest answer is a practical assessment with a neurodiversity-certified leader in a welcoming workplace setting. It lessens anxiety, enabling neurodivergent people to communicate and show off their abilities.

To fit into team dynamics and succeed over the long run, neurodivergent employees also need workplace adjustments. There are numerous quick, low-cost, and effective accommodations that businesses can use, including:

· Noise-cancelling headphones to mute background noise and conversations for improved concentration.

· Evaluation of desk placement and relocation to lessen anxiety.

· Meetings that are recorded with agendas, closed captioning, and notes for remote workers so that the material is available in several formats.

These are advantageous prior to recruiting neurodivergent personnel, but after hiring neurodivergent individuals, workplace cultures improve as they can introduce managers to new adjustments.

The most frequent obstacle, however, is failing to recognise the business advantages of recruiting a neurodivergent candidate. Employers who use mixed teams of neurodivergent and neurotypical individuals report greater morale and employee engagement, in addition to increased production and innovation. Employers are occasionally unsure of where to begin. Neurodiversity employment programmes oversee the identification, evaluation, and integration of neurodivergent people. Through fulfilling careers, people are to be prepared for a lifetime of independence, and employers are to benefit from neurodiversity.

What are the common difficulties experienced by employees who are neurodiverse? Along with a lack of workplace accommodations, neurodivergent workers frequently struggle with career mobility. Although getting a job is fantastic, we also want to develop long-lasting

careers. Leaders with certification in neurodiversity who manage and monitor the accomplishments of a neurodiverse team also provide coaching on self-advocacy. Establishing goals with clear paths to achieving them results in a plan that is centred on career mobility, which in turn encourages employee advocacy.

What advantages do neurodiverse employees have for a company?

Organisations benefit from the perspectives that neurodivergent people offer because they encourage creativity and unconventional thinking. Differently minded workers bring new insights and ideas while boosting the organisation’s bottom line. People who are neurodivergent are adept at data analysis, problem-solving, and pattern identification and may pay close attention to detail. Candidates with these abilities that help with complicated business difficulties are best suited for careers in technology, finance, law, cybersecurity, and health care research, among other fields.

Employers may expect a significant return on their investment when they take the time to thoroughly comprehend what it means to be neurodiverse. Employers increase productivity when they select candidates from the neurodiverse talent pool, and in the process, they strengthen their corporate culture and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) initiatives. Teams that include both neurotypical and neurodiverse employees work more efficiently and naturally change the culture of their organisations to one that values support and empathy. As a result, cooperation at work grows and becomes more welcoming.

In the end, the organisation’s actions on behalf of the person have a greater influence. The neurodiverse population benefits an organisation financially, but the opportunities it offers are equally important. A worthwhile job has an impact that goes beyond the office setting. It’s an advancement in the independence of neurodivergent workers. Neurodivergent workers are given the tools they need to succeed at work and outside of it, including a solid sense of responsibility, financial stability, revitalised confidence, and more.

How can businesses promote a neurodiverse workforce?

In my opinion, support is key. As with all employees, retaining neurodivergent talent is made possible with the right organisational assistance. Employees who are neurodivergent can succeed when their employers foster a genuine workplace culture by allowing them to be who they truly are.

Employers need to audit their hiring and onboarding procedures internally to do this. Are practises sensitive to neurodiverse talent, or are they ignoring it? Are there any easy fixes—like improved desk positions or noise-cancelling headphones—available? What about longer-term alternatives like accessible online content and assistive technology? Exist any additional resources for employees that have neurodiverse traits?

The creation of an employee resource group (ERG) with a disability focus is one of the more fruitful starting points. The creation of an inclusive culture that increases awareness, educates staff, and fosters a sense of belonging is a priority for ERGs. These ERGs can inform managers and corporate executives about more inclusive hiring practises and assist in granting accommodation requests.

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