Top tips for employers to support neurodiversity in the workplace


The term neurodiversity refers to the way everyones brains naturally work differently from one another. Just as you may be born with brown eyes or be left-handed, how your brain works and where you sit on the cognitive spectrum will be unique. According to Exceptional Individuals, neuro-differences are “recognised and appreciated as a social category similar to differences in ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, or ability.” [1]

Most people classify as neurotypical or not neurodivergent, which means they think and behave in a typical or similar way to most people. The statistics show that around one in seven people are neurodivergent [2], meaning they think, process and interpret information differently to most neurotypical people. These differences highlight the much needed skill sets neurodiverse employees can bring to the workplace. 

As with neurotypical employees who are more likely to be creative, think critically, and be generally more resourceful when they feel supported enough to be authentic in their workplace, neurodiverse employees require support in order to show up in the same manner. It's important to remember that while neurodiverse people have always existed, workplaces historically are designed to support their neurotypical colleagues meaning that there is room for improving the support offered through adjustments and improved training.

Focus on inclusive hiring practices

In the same way that contemporary workplaces are designed with neurotypical employees in mind, traditional interview and hiring processes place most neurodivergent candidates at a disadvantage. The historical trope of an ideal candidate is outdated and almost ensures no neurodiverse candidates see success. For example, many candidates with autism may have difficulty maintaining prolonged eye contact with an interviewer, shy away from a handshake or making small talk, and candidates with ADHD may appear distracted and switch between topics with speed.

Understanding these differences are the starting blocks to creating a more inclusive hiring process, leaving hiring managers to reassess ideas of their ideal candidate and how they structure interview questions in order to properly assess a candidate's skills.

Adopting a more flexible approach and tailoring each interview to the candidate and their specific needs can be a helpful adjustment for many neurodivergent candidates. Something as simple as the offer of a phone interview or virtual meeting over an in-person one could help alleviate pressure on their side as well as help hiring managers avoid any implicit bias. Other minor adjustments can include sharing interview questions in advance or considering trial work periods to allow applicants to demonstrate their strengths in a less pressured environment.

Job descriptions should also be reviewed to ensure they are not too heavily focused on uniform competencies that could exclude neurodivergent applicants who may excel in certain areas but struggle in others. Ensuring job descriptions are as clear and concise as possible, free from overused jargon, will benefit both neurotypical and neurodiverse applicants. An easy solution is to demarcate the role into ‘must-have’ and ‘nice-to-have’ skills and experience, this makes it easier for applicants to see what the core skills for the role are. This small change will help with encouraging more applicants who may have previously read the role description as if all the requirements are essential and not applying, despite excelling at the core or ‘must-have’ skills.

Adjust the workplace to support your employees

There are many simple steps that can help the workplace feel more supportive for neurodiverse employees, especially those in in-office or hybrid work environments. Much as a one size approach isn’t true for the spectrum of ways in which our brains interpret information, this is equally as true for a workplace set up. It’s important to note here that within the UK, neurodivergent employees are protected by law under specific equality and disability legislation. This covers the right to certain adjustments in the workplace [3] and protection against discrimination, harassment and victimisation..

These adjustments are usually simple and inexpensive and provide your neurodiverse employees with significant improvements in happiness and performance. While some may thrive on routine and defined structures, others may flourish in a more flexible working environment. The difference between these two work preferences does not mean one is better.

Technology is a great help. Providing assistive technology, such as speech-to-text or text-to-speech software, time management apps, note-taking or writing assistant apps, and live captioning in virtual meetings or in videos all assist in providing everyday support. The adjustments needed will vary on the person’s specific requirements and require good communication and understanding.

Celebrate diversity in your organisation

Creating a workplace culture that celebrates diversity is key to creating a supportive and inclusive workplace for all employees. You can champion neurodiversity by building awareness and creating a conversation around the topic through internal training that is developed to remove unconscious bias and foster a culture of acceptance and understanding. There are many governmental or non-profit organisations that provide training for businesses specifically focused on improving education and implementation or various diversity and inclusion practices.

Further support

Corporate healthcare trusts, like those offered by Healix, can be personalised to include benefits which enable employees to access assessments and treatment where needed. This can help individuals gain a diagnosis and treatment more quickly than is currently available within the NHS.

Having a corporate healthcare trust in place means that both neurotypical and neurodiverse employees are able to prosper in their work and personal lives, while benefiting from additional creativity, different perspectives and expertise in the workplace.

Find out how Healix helps you to support your neurodiverse employees here.

Works Cited

Exceptional Individuals,,,

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