Companies benefit from having neurodivergent employees. Here’s how employers can hire and support neurodivergent workers.
Here's what you need to know:
- Businesses are finding that hiring neurodivergent candidates can result in a workforce that approaches problem-solving with more creativity, new thought processes, and more
- To set up a job description that could attract neurodivergent talent, avoid using heavy text and jargon and state that your company welcomes people of all cognitive abilities
- Personalize your workspace and culture to what your employees respond to
- A flexible workspace, predictability, and direct communication can promote a positive culture for neurodivergent employees
Diversity in the workplace is more than hiring more employees that fit into various groups. It means creating a space where anyone from any background or ability can thrive.
The 2020s have brought with them a host of incredible changes both in society and the workplace. Businesses looked at how to hire without discrimination on any level besides talent.
To broaden your scope and hire a diverse workforce, let’s explore why companies should seek neurodivergent employees.
Combat complexity and scale more quickly
The image that comes to mind when you think of an office space and its employees has expanded.
Up until now, diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) hiring focused on bringing on people of different sexes, races, and ethnicities. According to the Center for American Progress Action Fund (CAP), women make up more than half of the workforce in 2022. While 67% of these people are still Non-Hispanic, White, the number of people of color hires is beginning to rise.
hiring managers must find a way to invite neurodivergent groups so that they feel welcomed.
Businesses are finding that targeting neurodivergent candidates can expand their conventions even further. Inclusion can result in a workforce that approaches problem-solving with more creativity, new thought processes, and more.
And, hiring managers must find a way to invite neurodivergent groups so that they feel welcomed. Employers should offer the resources they need to thrive.
With a whopping 85% of autistic people unemployed in America, the workforce has room to grow. To follow, we’ll explore what a neurodivergent-friendly workplace can look like and how to best install these changes to attract and retain these new employees.
Developing a neurodivergent-friendly workplace
No 2 people are exactly alike, nor approach work from the same direction. The best 1st step is embracing this new take on challenges.
You have to personalize your workspace and culture to what your employees respond to. If you notice an employee keeps getting stuck on the same types of problems, ask if they have any workarounds of their own.
Or, ask how to support them better as they arrive at a solution. For some, solutions come in a leaner way, for others, it means reordering the problem in a new way to come to a new solution.
In their guide, Neurodiversity at Work, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development wrote that “the neurodiversity paradigm [is] a perspective on neurodiversity that suggests neurodiversity is the result of natural human variation, and that there is no one ‘normal’ brain type. This stands in contrast to the highly medicalized perspective (until recently, the dominant perspective globally) that views autism, ADHD, and others as ‘disorders’ to be treated.”
Employers should view neurodivergent candidates as another asset to their team. Companies with neurodivergent employees, according to Specialisterne CEO, Alan Krass in a 2020 interview with Deloitte, often experience increased:
- Employee satisfaction
What can employers do to support neurodivergent employees?
A workplace that supports neurodivergent employees should embrace flexibility. Communication and problem-solving tactics don’t have to be one-size-fits-all.
Speak with your employee to figure out how to both communicate the problem, and facilitate the solution. Direct communication can go a long way in any workplace.
This may be following up with the employee ahead of the due date to ensure that they have begun on the project in case they’re stuck on a problem and uncomfortable asking for help.
Offer the employee the chance to ask questions when they have them, and tackle the problem together. Some neurodivergent employees work best if the task uses more action verbs. Instead of saying “take notes for the meeting,” you would break down the task into specifics.
Ask your employees to “listen for action words in the meeting that the client or we have to complete before the next task.” This gives someone a view of the full scope of the task. A broken-down task list gives the employee direct points to achieve.
A flexible workspace can also promote a positive culture for neurodivergent employees. This could be a hybrid or remote work environment for employees who perform better out of the office. Or, it could be flexible due dates on smaller projects.
While flexibility works for some new hires, predictability could better serve others.
For example, team-building activities could encourage a better culture for some employees. Others should have the choice not to take part.
Some may need structure to their workday. And any deviation, such as an all-office happy hour, could make them feel uncomfortable.
The best ways to support neurodivergent employees are to:
- Be flexible,
- Listen to their needs, and
- Offer them space to come to solutions in the best way that works for them.
Setting up your job descriptions and management to attract and retain
Once your company culture is in place to offer the best space for both neurodivergent and neurotypical employees to thrive, now’s the time to target this diverse group.
Consider if you already have jobs that a neurodivergent person would do well in. Or, if a new position could better serve their needs and the needs of the business.
An autistic person might have a better chance of thriving in a more analytical or problem-solving role because they have the ability to focus on minute details.
Or, you may have an analytics role that is also client-facing, which the new hire may not be comfortable with. In this case, you could split this job into 2 roles instead.
To set up a job description that could attract neurodivergent talent, here are 3 ways you can do so:
- Avoid adding a lot of heavy text and get straight to the point.
- Try not to add a lot of heavy jargon.
- State that your company welcomes people of all cognitive abilities.
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The bottom line with hiring neurodivergent workers
Being completely transparent with and empathetic to employees who qualify for the job, but may approach it in a completely new way, could benefit the future of your business. Develop a creative space where everyone has a voice.
At Zenefits, you can track your workplace diversity, develop space for all employees to voice their needs, and integrate each piece of your HR workflow. Learn more about how to develop a flexible work environment with our flexible work report. Read about insights on what candidates are really looking for in their next company.