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5 Ways to Build a Neuroinclusive Workplace

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Neuroinclusion involves creating a workplace environment that is adaptable, flexible, and supportive of neurodiverse employees, including those with autism spectrum disorder, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, dyslexia, and dyspraxia.

Many companies increasingly recognize the importance of neurodiversity in the workplace. However, establishing an inclusive culture for neurodiverse individuals presents a significant challenge. It requires more than just changing the hiring process; it involves fundamentally reshaping how organizations perceive work and teamwork.

Neurodiversity can be beneficial for business

Bringing in and retaining neurodiverse professionals can enhance organizational productivity and greater innovation. The intersectional nature of neurodiverse conditions may mean that these changes could potentially benefit multiple populations beyond neurodiverse individuals.

  • Neurodiverse professionals can be more productive than their neurotypical counterparts, according to research. For example, JPMorgan Chase & Co. estimates that employees hired into tech roles through its neurodiversity program are “90% to 140% more productive than others and have consistent, error-free work.” Moreover, it was also noted a higher retention rates among neurodiverse professionals for successful programs. Providing accommodations to support neurodiverse professionals often benefits the productivity of their neurotypical workers as well.

  • The accommodations that organizations are implementing to support neurodiverse professionals, such as clearer communication, could also benefit management practices for the whole team. For instance, Uptimize, a neurodiversity training company, suggests that team managers customize their communication approach for neurodivergent professionals, but they also emphasize that this should be standard practice for all team members.

  • Neurodiverse professionals can bring greater cognitive diversity and creativity to teams, leading to increased innovation. A workforce neurodiversity advocate at a large multinational financial services company highlighted in an interview that "Neurodiversity is not a superpower. [They] are different, and just like every other section of diversity, having a diverse workforce enables creativity that you're not otherwise going to have if everybody thinks the same."

Building a Neuroinclusive Organization

Remember to take a comprehensive approach when building a neuroinclusive organization. It's not just about changing hiring processes to include more neurodiverse individuals in the workplace. You also need to rethink work systems, practices, and processes to create a neuroinclusive culture that supports all employees throughout their careers. Here are 5 things to keep in mind when planning to do so.

Plan and design: When planning and designing workforce systems, leaders can be inclusive by reimagining a team as consisting of neurodiverse individuals. This might involve providing more flexible work schedules and rethinking promotion and career advancement to accommodate both neurodiverse and neurotypical employees based on their skills, talents, and career ambitions.

Hire: When hiring, organizations should use more inclusive language in job descriptions, avoiding jargon and instead focusing on skills. They should also clearly outline how candidates can request special accommodations. Leaders need to see the hiring process as an opportunity to build a trusted relationship with neurodivergent professionals. Additionally, promoting neurodiverse professionals across the organization can serve as an inspiration for others.

Individualize: In the evolving workplace, organizations have the chance to focus on designing roles that align with individual skills and interests, rather than specific jobs. More and more organizations are adopting a skills-based approach, allowing leaders to create positions that better suit the skills and interests of neurodiverse individuals.

Coach and develop: Mentoring and participating in employee resource groups can assist neurodiverse professionals in connecting with colleagues from various parts of the organization and gaining exposure beyond their immediate teams. Employee resource groups that concentrate on neurodiversity can offer valuable feedback and insights from employees, as well as serve as a platform for sharing experiences, discussing challenges, and proposing initiatives to promote inclusion.

Manage and measure: Like any other business effort, using metrics can help achieve results. Implementing ways for employees to voluntarily self-identify can generate data that can be monitored over time to track progress. Additionally, interviews and engagement surveys can offer employees opportunities to share valuable insights about their experiences and perspectives.

Organizational resources are essential to foster a neuroinclusive culture, including investments in talent, strategies, training, and policies. Initiatives must be supported by and aligned with broader policies on diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Fostering a neuroinclusive organization and developing the necessary mindset is an ongoing process, not a one-time event. Neuroinclusion has the potential to benefit everyone in an organization, not only neurodiverse individuals who self-disclose, but also those who do not, as well as the broader organization. Management processes that focus on neuroinclusion, such as clearer communications, can benefit entire teams. With ongoing transformation initiatives in many organizations and persistent talent challenges, promoting an environment of neuroinclusion may help organizations tap into talent that might otherwise be overlooked.

If your organization is seeking to enhance its approach by integrating a more inclusive organizational development design that allows neurodiverse professionals to thrive, you should consider collaborating with our team today.


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