Holding space for ADHD in the workplace and celebrating neurodiversityby
Without awareness and compassion surrounding neurodiversity, workplace innovation and progress are hampered. Discover how to make adequate accommodations for your employees with neurodiverse conditions in a way that enhances productivity.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) have become essential foci for HR departments.
Without diversity and inclusivity, the picture of the workplace narrows; offices remain unchanged and rooted in the past.
Businesses fail to innovate and progress. People don’t want to be a part of organisations with cultures like that.
DEI is a priority for many organisations because it is both the right thing to do, and also comes with a host of overlooked benefits, with businesses who are more diverse than their counterparts statistically demonstrating higher performance, productivity and profitability.
While organisations are striving to foster an inclusive culture by addressing diversity in terms of gender, race and physical disabilities, the presence and needs of neurodiverse individuals, such as those with ADHD and autism, often go unnoticed and misunderstood
Embracing DEI and not forgetting neurodiversity
So, there’s a lot of motivation for companies to embrace DEI and fewer and fewer excuses not to.
But we’ve still got miles to go before we reach any sort of utopia. Even when trying their best, a lack of perspective can still expose gaps in an organisation’s understanding.
So, while organisations are striving to foster an inclusive culture by addressing diversity in terms of gender, race and physical disabilities, the presence and needs of neurodiverse individuals, such as those with ADHD and autism, often go unnoticed and misunderstood.
Making adequate accommodations
Considering that approximately 15% to 20% of the population is estimated to be neurodivergent, the lack of awareness and compassion surrounding neurodiversity can leave these employees feeling unsupported, hindering their career growth and even making it challenging for them to secure employment.
Despite neurodiverse individuals being 30% more productive and less prone to making errors than their neurotypical counterparts, recent data reveals that they are 30 to 40% more likely to be unemployed than those with visible disabilities.
Unfortunately, many businesses fail to provide adequate accommodations for neurodiverse employees, despite many organisations currently attempting to pursue a ‘culture add’ orientated mindset when hiring, rather than seeking our ‘cultural fits’.
Additionally, most companies likely have a higher number of neurodiverse staff than they realise since many individuals may not have disclosed their condition or remain undiagnosed, instead attempting to navigate challenging situations independently.
Lack of awareness and compassion surrounding neurodiversity can leave these employees feeling unsupported, hindering their career growth and even making it challenging for them to secure employment
Neurodiversity refers to the natural neurological variations in brain functioning, encompassing differences in thinking, information processing, and communication styles.
Neurodivergent individuals may struggle with tasks requiring concentration, communication difficulties, or face challenges when participating in social workplace activities.
While autism, ADHD and dyslexia are the most well-known forms of neurodivergence, other conditions such as Tourette's syndrome, dyspraxia, dyscalculia, dysgraphia and epilepsy also fall under the umbrella term of neurodiversity.
Accommodations for ADHD in the workplace
For individuals with ADHD, workplace accommodations can significantly improve their productivity.
Distractions and noises can pose particular challenges, as individuals with ADHD are unable to filter them out like neurotypical individuals.
The Attention Deficit Disorder Association (ADDA) recommends implementing ADHD workplace accommodations, such as allowing the use of earphones for listening to music or white noise.
Additionally, utilising the voicemail function to record messages and responding to them at specific times throughout the day can help individuals avoid feeling overwhelmed.
Most companies likely have a higher number of neurodiverse staff than they realise since many individuals may not have disclosed their condition or remain undiagnosed, instead attempting to navigate challenging situations independently
Simple adjustments with big impacts
These simple adjustments enable employees to manage their time, environment, and workload more effectively, maximising their career potential.
From an organisational standpoint, the ADHD at Work Association advises businesses to provide designated workspaces where neurodivergent employees can focus on their tasks without distractions.
This might involve offering private offices, the option to work from home, or allocating specific times for them to work independently in the office. These accommodations have a significant impact on the productivity and engagement of individuals with ADHD.
Inclusion and equity should be the norm
Flexible work hours may also be necessary to accommodate the needs of neurodiverse employees, allowing them to take breaks throughout the day.
Each neurodiverse person is just as unique as neurotypical people are from each other, and finding the strategies that work best for them is essential.
By implementing these relatively simple and easy-to-implement ADHD workplace accommodations, organisations can improve the mental wellbeing of their workforce, empower their employees to excel in their careers and create a business culture where inclusion and equity are the norm.
Rather than viewing neurodiverse employees' differences as problematic, recognising and appreciating the unique range of skills they bring to the workplace can foster an employer brand and company culture that is appealing to valuable talent, in all its diversity
Celebrating neurodiverse colleagues
Rather than viewing neurodiverse employees' differences as problematic, recognising and appreciating the unique range of skills they bring to the workplace can foster an employer brand and company culture that is appealing to valuable talent, in all its diversity.
Individuals with neurological differences can possess strengths in data analysis, problem-solving and pattern recognition, making them valuable assets in technology, finance, cybersecurity, and other fields.
Those with ADHD have been found to have a strong advantage in creative thinking, through conceptual expansion, divergent thinking and overcoming knowledge constraints.
Shifting perspectives on neurodiverse colleagues and educating the workforce about the benefits they contribute to the organisation helps shape DE&I policies and ensures that everyone can reach their full potential, contributing to the company's goals.
Training, awareness and appreciation
HR departments can take simple steps, such as providing training for managers on neurodiversity and raising awareness on designated days, like October's International ADHD Awareness Month, to promote understanding and appreciation for neurodiversity.
Implementing ADHD workplace accommodations, as well as adjustments for other neurodiverse employees, not only benefits individuals but also has a positive impact on the organisation.
Accommodating their specific needs improves retention rates, enhances overall performance and work quality and reduces absenteeism within this demographic.
Breaking down barriers
By making changes to accommodate neurodiverse employees, organisations can help break down the stigma surrounding neurodiversity and normalise conditions like ADHD.
Ultimately, this creates an inclusive and welcoming environment where all employees can thrive and progress professionally, and a strong culture becomes one of the driving forces behind company growth and strategy.
If you enjoyed this, read: Why ADHD coaching can create a more inclusive workplace
Tristan has been passionate about employee experience and rights as a union representative for over 10 years. In that time, he has worked for technology companies, solicitors’ firms, and digital marketing agencies. Since joining HR Software provider XCD in 2022, he has been writing about work full-time, bringing his unique perspective on labour...