One in seven people in the UK identify as neurodivergent, according to corporate wellness specialist, ToHealth – neurodiversity is more prevalent than commonly thought.
Also, 15 percent of the nation live with neurodiverse challenges every day.
A shocking 22 percent of people with autism in the UK currently unemployed, compared to a national unemployment figure of just 3.7 percent – highlighting the fact that we have a way to go when supporting neurodiversity in the workplace, of which autism is part of.
Google search trends on ‘what does neurodivergent mean’ are now up 180 percent in the past 30 days, and ‘neurodiversity in business’ up 100 percent in the past 90 day. This topic is definitely on people’s radar.
It is time employers made a change and supporting neurodiverse employees’ unique needs.
The benefits of supporting your neurodiverse workforce
According to Deloitte Insights, companies who hire neurodiverse workers into some roles can be 30 percent more productive than those who don’t – with the inclusion of neurodivergent professionals being seen to boost team morale.
For example, some autistic individuals may focus on a topic or activity, immersing themselves into every aspect of the topic knowledge, allowing themselves to become an expert in that field. When this is heightened, interests mixed with a specific job topic such as design, accounting, or SEO, may see a company may benefit from its employee’s drive to improve and progress – encouraging their team to take on new learnings too.
According to Deloitte Insights, creating space for and hiring neurodivergent thinkers can improve functioning around creativity, problem-solving, and innovation, helping to give your organisation a competitive edge.
Neurodivergent individuals often see the world differently to neurotypical people, and therefore may offer enhanced and diverse perceptions that fuel engaging, creative ideas.
Failing to support neurodiversity within the workplace
It is the role of leadership to make sure that neurodiverse employees are fully understood and are given the tools that they need to play to their strengths.
With this in mind, employers need to be aware of non-disclosure.
Due to fear of discrimination, many neurodivergent people do not disclose their situation at interview stage and beyond. It could be that only once you have employed a neurodivergent person, you become aware of their challenges.
Failure to support your neurodivergent employees comes with serious consequences. For example, employment tribunals in which employees alleged they were discriminated against for being ‘neurodiverse’ rose by a third last year, with a 40 percent rise relating to autism and a 14 percent rise in dyslexia claims.
Kerry-Dene Ihlenfeldt, Managing Director of ToHealth said that training should be provided “not only to those with learning difficulties, but also to other members of staff so that the entire organisation can work together cohesively – with everyone playing to their own individual strengths.”
Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at the University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.