Creating a Fair Environment for Neurodiverse People and Realizing the Benefits
Hiring neurodiverse employees is shown to improve workplace productivity and functionality. Here are some laws you need to know when hiring and employing neurodiverse individuals.
- By Jennifer Dawson
- Jun 11, 2020
Society at large is only just starting to understand what it means to be neurodiverse, and it’s presenting real benefits for businesses as they learn. According to the Harvard Business Review, hiring neurodiverse people gives businesses a ‘competitive advantage’ over other businesses who don’t make the hire. However, neurodiverse people, such as those on the autistic spectrum, may have specific needs to be addressed in any workplace. While this is true for any individual in a business, these requirements can sometimes be slightly different to accommodations normally made.
Knowledge is Key
First and foremost, it’s important to note that you may have some legal requirements over creating a fair environment for neurodiverse people. While not all people diagnosed with a neurodiverse condition will be defined as living with a disability, (this analysis by Scientific American notes that there is a broad spectrum of impacts when it comes to living with a neurodiverse condition) some certainly will be considered “living with a disability,” and autistic spectrum disorders and similar conditions are defined as ‘potentially disabling’ under US law. Given that no one case is the same, it’s important to listen to your employees and give them the support they need.
Autism is diagnosed from childhood using this level of support, given that there’s no strict criteria by which autism is defined, and no specific physiological indicator that clearly outlines someone as being diagnosed with an ASD (Autistic Spectrum Disorder). Providing holistic support is the most effective way of enabling people with a neurodiverse condition to feel supported and able to fully embrace their life and, indeed, way of working.
Neurodiverse employees are no different to anyone else, in that they can have vast untapped potential. Structuring a learning environment to suit them is therefore important. According to UK autism charity the National Autistic Society, approaching neurodiverse individuals in a straightforward but calm and factual way is often a tried-and-true method of communication, though this must be tailored individually to workers. Crucially, the offer of training and development in a clear and structured manner will bring about great benefits for your employees and, in the long run, your company; there are many benefits that businesses can gain from employing neurodiverse people and doing everything in their power to help boost their careers.
Benefiting Your Businesses
A well-structured work environment that supports neurodiverse people can expect to reap the rewards in business growth terms. According to Phys.org, a study of adults diagnosed with ASD in Canada has revealed a huge potential job market that is relatively untapped due to regressive recruitment tactics employed by companies. Within that could be countless high-skilled workers ready for work in under-staffed sectors such as IT. Indeed, the tech industry as a whole has benefited from recruitment drives aimed at neurodiverse people—Microsoft is one example of a company that has reported benefits from embracing people living with ASD and driving them up the career path at their company.
As business comes to learn what it means to be neurodiverse and how people living with neurodiverse conditions live and work, there should be cause for excitement. A vast and untapped job market of people that will develop their careers and bring the business benefits in the meantime is a recruiter’s dream. To make it work, a nod to personal accommodation and understanding the law is all it takes.