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Nurturing Neurodiversity at the workplace

Wednesday September 1, 2021, By Manasa Sai Sekar

Written by Manasa Sai

Neurodiversity stems from the brain differences that we have in terms of the way we are wired, the way we think and learn are accepted and seen as normal. The term Neurodiversity was first coined by the singer Judy in the late 1990s after refusing the idea that people with autism work differently than the rest of us. This concept is used in today’s education system and at the workplace to promote inclusion. Slowly this concept started picking up and several management schools concluded from their research that people with neurodiversity possessed higher-than-average standards than other people to perform a job efficiently. Competing on the basis of innovation has become more crucial for many companies in this information age. Right from creating cutting edge products to building inclusive services, to include people and ideas from “the edges,” as certain companies put it, requires people who see things differently. Some of the ways in which organizations can harness the talent of neurodiverse people are by,

Understanding specific challenges of neurodiverse people – The thought potential of neurodiverse people that can bring such valuable insight and ‘out of the box thinking’ can also present challenges to them. For example, while dyslexic people often have desirable strengths, they face challenges with a weaker working memory, which when not addressed can lead to issues while working in a team.

Can this role hire neurodiverse people – The first step in recruiting neuro diverse candidates are to ask if this position hires neurodiverse candidates. Since certain job roles require skills sets such as good communication, performing this check will go a long way. Companies usually have a standard job description that is circulated around various job sites to hire candidates for a role. Reframing the existing job description in a way that neurodiverse candidates will understand by making them feel inclusive can change the game.

Adjusting the workplace accordingly – While onboarding a neurodiverse employee, organizations should keep in mind the factors in their workplace that need immediate attention. Factors such as ensuring a quiet space for people with autism, to work in, by giving them clear, succinct written or verbal instructions should be prioritized.

Addressing the existing micro behaviors of the employees – The moment we meet people who are different than us, it is in our immediate reflex to look at them in a surprised fashion. Neurodiverse people who have cognitive abilities might be sensitive to such behaviors. Organizations must address such behaviors before onboarding neurodiverse candidates. If a company is hiring a neurodiverse candidate for the first time, it is better to gain adequate knowledge by seeking help from other organizations. Approaching organizations that specifically work with neurodiverse people is the key.

Make the “unwritten rules” explicit – Every organization has “unwritten rules” related to the time of work, dress codes, breaks, events, and more. These “unwritten rules” could pose challenges to certain neurodiverse employees because these rules often lack clarity. The line manager can help with this onboarding process by being direct with them.

To conclude, when it comes down to building a neurodiverse organization, the first for an organization is to accept that neurodiversity exists and can add value to the holistic development of an organization. The second step for every organization starts with the organization’s hiring process. However, an organization’s enabling environment is another major contributor to the same. Understanding each neurodiverse employee’s strengths and challenges, and developing a structured career progression path will instil faith in their minds.


Author Profile

Manasa Sai Sekar
Manasa Sai Sekar
A Senior Consultant from Consulting & Solutions team at Avtar, has worked in four different industries such as Retail, Telecommunication, Agriculture, and HealthCare.

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