Harnessing Neurodiverse Talent in the Workplace

18/03/24 – Blog

Guest blogger

Alice Gibson
Disability Training & Consultancy Specialist
Medigold Health

When we think about disabilities and health conditions in the workplace, we often think about barriers and ways to overcome them. It wasn’t that long ago that traits and symptoms of health conditions were seen as problems that needed fixing, but as the times change, so do we and our attitudes. So, what if I told you there can be a huge advantage to recruiting neurodiverse employees into your business?

Let’s start with the basics…

What is Neurodiversity?

Neurodiversity is a concept that recognises and celebrates the diversity of neurological differences in individuals. It is an umbrella term for several conditions, including dyslexia, dyspraxia, attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD), autism spectrum disorder (ASD), dyscalculia, Meares-Irlen syndrome and Tourette’s. It is estimated that around 10% of the workforce are neurodiverse.

Every individual experiences and interacts with the world in different ways. There is no “right” way to think, learn, and behave; differences should be embraced and not considered deficits.

Why should you recruit neurodiverse talent into a business?

Neurodiversity literally means diversity of the brain, so we know that neurodivergent people will think differently. It is therefore unsurprising that neurodiversity is linked with creativity and imagination, so there’s a natural curiosity that helps people investigate situations in a different way.

Many neurodivergent individuals are detail-oriented and can spot things most people wouldn’t notice. They are also able to see beyond the obvious and initial information. Combine these skills together, and you can see why neurodiverse people are great at identifying errors or seeing patterns in information or trends in data.  

The neurodiverse brain is set up for being analytical and logical, using the patterns or concepts identified to see a way through a problem – often finding a unique solution to problem solving.

Valuable Personality Characteristics

One of the things that I find interesting is that despite (and often because) of the challenges neurodiverse people have faced, they are likely to have developed some personality characteristics which are highly valued at work.

They will be thorough and methodical with the ability to work on a task through to completion, even if this means a lot of repetition. They will work hard to achieve a result, being reliable and conscientious.

Through their own experience of challenges, other characteristics can be well developed, such as determination, resilience, and motivation, which help them overcome workplace challenges. Furthermore, they often possess empathy and understanding for others and their struggles. 

Why attracting neurodiverse talent is good for your business

We know that specific skills and strengths can be helpful, but there are plenty of other reasons why attracting neurodiverse talent can be good for a business.

Having a diverse workforce helps your business to be more representative of the community you serve, and this can help you to secure, engage with and retain more customers. It can enhance your overall reputation, help your brand stand out from the crowd, and give you better access to the Purple pound, which is the spending power of disabled households – estimated at £249 billion a year.

Improved staff engagement

Diversity and inclusion in your workforce can positively impact staff engagement and provide opportunities for all colleagues to learn and develop. There may be opportunities for colleagues to get involved in coaching and mentoring, and managers will develop knowledge that can support the entire workforce, not just those who are neurodivergent.

Numerous major corporations are now recognising and harnessing the skills and qualities of neurodiverse individuals; Microsoft, Goldman Sachs, Dell, HP and Google have all introduced programmes to recruit neurodiverse and/or autistic people.

My Personal Experience

We need to support and encourage our neurodiverse colleagues. When I was growing up, my autistic brother was often referred to as stubborn (determined) and obsessive (detail-oriented).

He used to do maths for fun and always conducted science experiments in his spare time. He was lucky, firstly because I was his big sister but secondly, because his curiosity was always encouraged at home and at school.

These days, my brother is a Doctor of neuroscience and is widely considered to be an expert in his field. His traits have allowed him to thrive in uncertain times and succeed in the world of work!

Isn’t it worth taking the time to reflect on the roles in our business where the highlighted skills and strengths could give us a real competitive advantage?

Written by Alice Gibson – National Disability Training and Consultancy Specialist

Our Workplace Training & Consultancy team have a variety of solutions designed to support your business in harnessing the talent of neurodiverse individuals and ensuring everyone thrives.

If you would like more information, our friendly Training Team is always ready to assist you with expert advice and support!

You can connect with our Training Team via:

Tel: 0333 567 1910

Email: workplacetraining@medigold-health.com

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