Working with Neurodiversity

Working with Neurodiversity

Neurodiversity

Most people are described as neurotypical. This means their brain functions according to society norms. However, 15% of the UK population (or 1 in 7 of us) are estimated to have brain function classified as neurodivergent, meaning the brain functions differently and has diverse ways of processing information, thinking, learning and behaving.

Neurodivergent traits are present from birth and develop in childhood and adolescence. But conditions can also be acquired throughout one’s life as a result of stroke, tumour or other brain altering experience.

Neurodiverse conditions such as dyslexia, autism, dyspraxia and ADHD, to name a few, are more commonly recognised and understood in today’s society. However, our workplace is typically set up for neurotypical ways of thinking and doing, so neurodivergent employees often spend a lot of time trying to adjust their work environment to suit their needs. This can hinder their contribution and undermine their confidence as well as lose the business valuable productivity.

Data suggests that neurodivergent employees can increase the productivity of a company by nearly as much as 50%*, resulting in increased profits and customer satisfaction. Innovation increases and problems are solved quickly and more effectively.

By understanding the strengths of a neurodivergent workforce and accommodating their needs, companies can strengthen their workforce with out-of-the-box thinking, creative solutions, and more.

Here are some examples of how neurodivergent individuals can contribute to productivity and creativity.

Dyslexics are more likely to think in images and are skilled in visual processing so they can consider objects from numerous angles. They have the ability to see the big picture making it easier for them to spot patterns and data trends. Their ability to think outside the box allows them to excel at problem-solving as they can discover connections that others may miss. They can also be original thinkers and inventors, bringing together information and resources from different disciplines.

People with autism have the ability to focus intensely on a given task, especially if they have a special interest in the subject, demonstrating superb attention to detail. They excel in a structured environment and their love of routine means that they are extremely reliable and punctual. Their ability to approach problems differently and their logical, straightforward thinking can help improve processes and increase productivity.

So how can employers best accommodate neurodiversity in the workplace and enable neurodivergents to excel and perform to the best of their ability?

Provide the right tools for staff to do their job. Understand the needs of your employees, consider the range of support available and match them according to their needs. Ask what they reasonably feel they need to help them work more efficiently.

For example, noise-cancelling headphones for employees with autism or ADHD, to avoid distracting or confusing noises.

Assistive technology features such as screen filters can help employees who are sensitive to the intensity or frequency of light.

Text to speech tools can help dyslexics process information more effectively through audio. 

Time-management software containing calendars, planners and alerts can help people with autism or ADHD to plan daily activities, manage their time more effectively, and support any memory challenges.

Instant messaging such as Google Hangouts may be a more motivating tool for communicating with colleagues.

Mind mapping software facilitates the understanding of concepts by breaking them down into their component parts. It enables the visual development and organisation of ideas and information making it easier to see how information fits together. This tool can help employees with dyslexia to more readily understand concepts and scenarios and contribute valuable ideas and suggestions.

The leadership team play a key role in championing and promoting diversity in the workplace by supporting an inclusive working environment and educating their teams. Win their support by preparing and presenting a clear business case, providing a clear statement of the business requirements and potential solution, the consequences resulting from specific actions and metrics for the proposed solution.

As well as support from the top, educate and train all staff on neurodiversity awareness. Accredited training can help line managers to spot any potential barriers to diverse ways of working, identify employees that may be experiencing challenges and provide neurotypical employees with the knowledge and confidence to offer support where necessary.

Educating employees about neurodiversity can also help to remove any preconceptions and encourage teams to adapt, so that specialist talents of neurodivergent employees can flourish.

Appoint DI&E Champions at all levels across the organisation. Champions are the visible role models for inclusion and take action to ensure that objectives are achieved. Their passion and knowledge on the strengths and benefits of neurodiversity can drive change and influence – sometimes helping with business cases by reporting successes and giving feedback on a regular basis. Provide them with the necessary training and support to equip them with the skills required to achieve an inclusive culture

Finally, create a more inclusive working environment with a few simple changes that can make the biggest impact for neurodivergent employees.

For example, provide flexible working hours that allows them to arrive earlier and leave earlier, avoiding large groups of people and making travelling and/or parking less stressful. An early start can also mean they benefit from quiet time to focus on tasks without the usual daily office distractions.

Working from home allows them to work in their own quiet and familiar space. This can be beneficial when completing tasks that could cause anxiety in a busy workplace, for example, preparing for and practicing delivering a presentation.

Provide ‘thinking spaces’ for quiet contemplation. Noise and distractions can be counterproductive for neurotypical employees at the best of times, and this can be significantly worse for neurodivergent individuals. Quiet areas provide a sanctuary from the busy open plan office, enabling them to concentrate and focus on getting the job done.

Desk location should also be considered. Some individuals may prefer to be located in a corner – away from visual and audio distractions.

Ultimately, what underpins the success of all these measures is a workplace culture that considers individual needs and has the capacity to meet them.

*Siemens

 

 

 

Recruitment: Applicant Tracking Systems – pros and cons

Recruitment: Applicant Tracking Systems – pros and cons

Diversity and Inclusion

An applicant tracking system, or ATS, is a software application that helps manage your recruitment workflows.

It streamlines the entire recruitment cycle from posting jobs onto numerous websites, to receiving, filtering and screening applications, sharing candidate details with multiple stakeholders, communicating with candidates, scheduling interviews and giving candidate feedback.

Some ATS can also integrate with other HRIS to generate new employee records, prepare employment letters and contracts, start online induction processes and add new starters to payroll, thus reducing the admin workload and ensuring that all the proper hiring steps are followed in a timely and accurate manner.

ATS have mostly been used for volume recruitment, but an increasing number of SME’s are now using them to facilitate their recruitment activities.

When all works well, an ATS can make life much easier for recruiters, saving time and reducing costs.

In recruitment, speed is of the essence, and a good ATS can help speed up the hiring process by reaching out to candidates more quickly, retaining their interest and motivation so you don’t lose out.

It can also produce a shortlist of candidates with screening tools that enable you  to set out skills, education and skills requirements, allowing you to focus on candidates who meet the necessary criteria.

However, be aware that this process can also run the risk of missing out on good candidates who have a different accreditation that is equally valid but may not be recognised by the system.

Other faults may be caused by applications being rejected if the scanner is unable to fully read CVs or fails to recognise the format.

If the system malfunctions or times out when the candidate is completing their application, is incompatible with certain browsers, is difficult to access from mobile devices or is tedious to navigate, candidates may become frustrated and give up altogether.

On the plus side, interviews can be scheduled easily and more promptly, follow up emails sent in batch and reminders set, reducing the number of hours spent in labour intensive and repetitive processes, freeing you up to focus on interviews.

If your hiring process involves multiple stakeholders, the ATS can facilitate communication and collaboration by allowing users to access candidate profiles, make notes, leave ratings or check where they’re at in the pipeline.

Crucially, an ATS allows to you to immediately contact those that have not been successful, helping you to follow best practice and promote your reputation as a good employer.

The metrics produced by the ATS can help you to measure and analyze your recruitment statistics such as time to hire, cost per hire, most successful job sites and acceptance rates. This will enable you to make continuous improvements in your search for talent.

It can act as a repository for storing all your recruitment-related information and retains candidate records for the future in the form of a talent database.

You can create a GDPR-compliant talent pool of good candidates who may have been unsuccessful first-time round, enabling you to reach out to them as soon as another suitable position becomes available.

However, be aware of your candidates’ rights in relation to their personal data and ensure that your team has the right processes in place to manage candidate requests effectively and in line with the GDPR requirements.

Under GDPR, recruiters need to respond to candidate requests, such as updating or erasing their details, within one month and be able to prove when or how they have actioned a request.

Provide candidates with your privacy notice explaining how you process personal data when collecting information. This also applies to all candidates, including those who apply indirectly via recruitment agencies or social media.

Under GDPR, candidates will have the following rights of access:

  • To obtain confirmation that their data is being processed
  • Access to their personal data
  • Access to any other information relating to their data.

Any requested information must be provided free of charge unless otherwise stipulated in the ICO guidance, and within one month of the request being submitted.

If a candidate asks you to correct or update their personal data, you must do so within one month. If you have shared the personal data with other parties, you must also inform them of the update.

Candidates can also request the deletion of their data although you can refuse the request in accordance with ICO guidance.

Transparency is the key principle of the GDPR and an ATS can build an audit trail of when candidate requests have been met, providing a clear history of all communications.

Storage limitation is another core principle of the GDPR, and proper steps must be taken to ensure you don’t retain your candidates’ data for any longer than is necessary. An ATS can set up an alert system warning you when a candidate is approaching their data retention limit. Their details can either be archived (if appropriate) or completely removed from the system.

Should you ever be audited or receive a candidate complaint, you need to be able to access the associated data quickly and simply and an ATS can make this process fast, simple and reliable.

The right ATS will also provide confidence in where and how your data is hosted, ensuring you do not breach any significant data storage requirements.

If this all sounds too complicated, remember that the pros can easily outweigh the cons, and a reputable ATS will provide you with the necessary tools to manage your recruitment processes effectively, professionally and ethically.

March edition of Designated Digest

March edition of Designated Digest

March Designated Digest

Hello! and welcome to our March edition!

In this month’s newsletter we kick off with diversity and inclusion and recruitment, looking at resources tools and techniques. Now more than ever, HR professionals need to demonstrate the ability to develop D&I strategies to attract, recruit and retain a diverse workforce.

We also take advice from our friends at Xero, on how to manage small business cash flow. Xero’s small business trends report shows that 60% of small business owners are worried about their household finances running low.

Then finally we look at the top social media trends for 2022, there may be some surprises in there!

A quick admin note – our newsletter is now going to be moving to a quarterly issue, ensuring we bring you the most valuable content and resources to your inbox.

Best Wishes, 

Designated Team 

Diversity and Inclusion in Recruitment

Diversity and Inclusion in Recruitment

Diversity and Inclusion

Diversity and Inclusion in Recruitment

Diversity and Inclusion is at the heart of every business agenda. Now more than ever, HR professionals need to demonstrate the ability to develop D&I strategies to attract, recruit and retain a diverse workforce.

In addition to the moral importance of adopting an inclusion strategy, a study conducted by McKinsey and Company found that businesses with a diverse workforce performed 15 -35% better than the national industry median. In another study, they also found that companies with gender diversity at the executive level were 21% more profitable than their less diverse competitors.

 According to a white paper prepared by Robert Walters, 85% of employers said that increasing diversity in the workforce was a priority. Yet only 46% do not have programmes in place to attract diverse candidates.

When attracting and recruiting a diverse workforce, posting the company’s policy on D&I is simply not enough. Actions and results speak louder than words.

So, what can businesses do to ensure that they are not just paying lip service to D&I and taking positive action?

 

Recruitment tools, resources and techniques

When working with recruitment consultants, ask recruiters to provide a diverse network of candidates. Team up with consultants who have an awareness of current diversity and inclusion best practice and who can demonstrate a credible track record of building diverse candidate pools. Including diversity in your SLA with clear objectives and outcomes and highlighting the commercial implications if these are not achieved, is also a powerful lever in ensuring your diverse recruitment needs are met.

Job ads can be more carefully worded to ensure that the language targets a diverse background of candidates. Proofing tools such as Textio or Unitive can help ensure your job posts and recruitment material covers all social groups, by identifying words or phrases that may subconsciously put off professionals from certain backgrounds from applying.

Using social media as well as LinkedIn to promote your recruitment can also expose you to a wider and more diverse audience.

Other tools such as gamification can help identify skills that may not normally be assessed through traditional techniques. It can also attract skilled candidates who may otherwise be discouraged from applying.

Extending recruitment fairs to non-graduates will expose your company to a wider range of potential talent that may not have academic experience but can demonstrate the right skills, capabilities and behaviours to successfully fulfil the needs of the role.

Consider how accessible your business website is to disabled users. One way to do this would be to have it tested by a group of users with different disabilities such as visual or hearing impairments, motor and cognitive disabilities, then make any adjustments where necessary.

Referral schemes offer a good incentive for existing staff to refer new candidates to the business. However, whilst this is a cost-effective aid to recruitment, be aware that it could also add a risk of unconscious bias through the perpetuation of a particular candidate type or background.

Unconscious bias is an unquestioned or automatic assumption about an individual, usually based on positive or negative traits associated with a group they belong to. In recruitment, unconscious bias prevents the recruiter from treating candidates as individuals and making automatic assumptions about the suitability of the candidate based on factors that are non-role related such as age, gender or background.

Some techniques for overcoming unconscious bias during recruitment involve providing anti-bias training for recruiters and hiring managers. Helping recruiters and hiring managers to identify areas where they may have their own unconscious biases, will help them to approach recruitment in a more fair and objective manner.

Removing certain information from CVs that are not relevant to the role, such as the name and gender of the applicant or the name of the school, college or university, channels the recruiter’s attention to focus solely on the candidate’s qualifications and experience.

Having CVs assessed by a wide range of stakeholders across the business, including staff at the same level of seniority as the candidate, provides a broader and more objective range of perspectives on the candidate’s suitability.

Avoid hiring decisions being made by one individual as this will allow unconscious bias to subtly filter out certain types of candidates who may be capable of performing the role. Include a range of stakeholders in the process to ensure fair and objective decision-making. Ensure any hiring decisions and rationale are clearly documented and transparent so that they can be easily reviewed, challenged or defended.

Finding diverse candidates for senior-level roles can be more challenging as the skills and experience required at that level is more specialised and the membership of certain professionals can be less diverse.

This creates a significant obstacle to achieving a diverse leadership team and there is a clear lack of diversity in business leadership as a whole. In order to create a more diverse workforce at senior levels, recruiters should be open to considering candidates from a variety of professional, industrial and national backgrounds who possess transferable skills, as well as considering candidates from overseas.

Mentoring can help junior employees from all backgrounds to develop into senior-level roles and encourages the nurturing of future talent from within the business. Providing training and development opportunities to all employees for future leadership roles is also an essential long-term solution.

Mentoring schemes that partner with other organisations can help improve diversity for senior management by allowing high potential staff from diverse backgrounds to connect with mentors who are also from diverse backgrounds and who can offer advice and support for their professional career development.

Onboarding can easily be overlooked as a key component to promoting D&I. Communicate your D&I goals to new employees and share any survey results, targets and action plan to demonstrate the company’s commitment.

Invite a diverse line-up to deliver the induction programme so that new joiners feel more welcomed and can see where they can succeed.

Finally, collating, preparing and analysing accurate and relevant metrics can help pinpoint any issues in recruitment and diversity. Hard facts will build support amongst stakeholders and assist in the implementation of any necessary changes in recruitment processes to ensure best practice measures.

February edition of Designated Digest

February edition of Designated Digest

Designated Digest February

Hello! and welcome to our December edition!

In this month’s newsletter, we talk about recruitment. Hiring a PA or Personal Assistant might be your very first hire as a business owner. It can both be an exciting and scary step as an employer.

You will have new HR and Accountancy responsibilities but it is important to get it right from the beginning so that both you and your employee start off in the best possible way.

We also look at inductions in the role of the recruitment process as well as post-pandemic Accountancy support.

Best Wishes, 

Designated Team 

Post-pandemic Accountancy support and HMRC changes for 2022

Post-pandemic Accountancy support and HMRC changes for 2022

finance designated

Over the past few years, it has been difficult to keep up with the ever-changing landscape that is, business finance. There have been several schemes announced by the UK Government to support both businesses and their employees but staying on top of all the changes and keeping everybody informed hasn’t always been easy. There have been several changes that come into effect this year, from the end of the Coronavirus working from home tax concessions to the commencement of tax digital and an increase in HMRC’s late payments interest rates. Not to mention 2021 IR35 announcements. We have discussed some of these changes before but we thought as we are hitting a busy time of the year for accounting, it might be useful to share information and resources about these upcoming changes.

Coronavirus working from home tax concession to stop in April 2022
If you or your teams have spent some time working from home since the start of the pandemic, you probably already know about the Coronavirus working from home tax concessions. From April 6 2020 employees have been able to claim some tax relief if they have needed to work from home because of the pandemic. The tax relief is worth between £62 and £125 pa. This is based on 20% of £312 pa or 40% of £312, depending on whether the employee was a basic rate or higher rate taxpayer in the tax year. The allowance can be claimed in both tax years 2020-21 and 2021/22 if an employee was required to work from home at some point during each of the two tax years. By concession, whilst the amount is defined as £6 per week, it allows the full £312 pa to be claimed for the full tax even if the employee only spent a single day working from home. If an employee chooses voluntarily to work from home then they are not entitled to the concession allowance.

As the UK government are no longer recommending businesses to ask their staff to work from home, the scheme will be ending on 6 April 2022. After 5 April 2022, if an employee wishes to claim tax relief for employment-related expenses they will need to comply with the well-established strict traditional tax rules, and only if they have to work from home. Furthermore, claims can only be made for the actual time they have to work from home and the concession that even working from home for one day permits a whole year’s claim will stop.

HMRC says that to be able to claim tax relief, if applicable, an employee can only consider costs like gas and electricity, metered water business phone calls, including dial-up internet access etc.
HMRC say that you cannot claim for the whole bill, just the part that relates to your work i.e. the extra costs incurred by working from home and that you’ll need evidence, such as receipts, bills or contracts, to be able to claim tax relief.

Making Tax Digital for VAT affected companies
From 1st April 2022, all VAT-registered businesses will have to submit their financial accounts information via software that is compliant with the UK governments Making Tax Digital scheme. Since 2019 only businesses which exceeded the VAT threshold of £85,000 have needed to submit their tax details in this way. From next year, however, an additional 7,000 registered VAT businesses will be eligible.

To comply with the new HMRC Making Tax Digital rules, these businesses must have a cloud computer software package – one which is compliant with the government’s Application Programming Interface (API) system. It will no longer be possible for VAT-eligible businesses to submit via the HMRC website.

You are probably wondering whether the government is recommending a particular piece of software, they are not. But businesses that don’t have an accountant will be required to find their own third-party provider to provide the appropriate software and meet the new regulations. The majority of current desktop accounting software won’t be compatible with the government’s system and will likely need to be updated. The same applies to older accounting software packages. Cloud-based software packages should automatically update for HMRC’s Making Tax Digital system. At Designated Medical we are already helping our clients transition to Tax Digital. If you would like accountancy and compliance support, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our friendly team at Designated Medical.

The changes to IR35 and how it could affect you or your employees
Not necessarily a change for 2022, however, it is something we are still being asked about and something people are still getting their heads around. IR35 is tax legislation that ensures that contractors who are knowingly or not working as ‘disguised employees’ pay the correct tax.
You may have applied for contract jobs in the past where the company said they wanted to pay you under an ‘umbrella company,’ i.e., an agency. This is because it is more tax-efficient for them to do so. You become what is termed a ‘disguised employee’, and the company doesn’t have to pay your National Insurance contributions, nor do they have to offer sick pay or holiday leave. That’s because the agency pays it.

Equally, when you’re a contractor working as a limited company, you can pay corporation tax at 20 per cent on your profits, claim business costs against your tax bill and avoid making National Insurance Contributions (NIC) by paying yourself through dividends.

Gordon Brown introduced IR35 back in 2000 when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer. That’s because when working as it should, HMRC IR35 tax can protect both the contractor and company. Crucially for the government, it also means HMRC won’t lose out on tax. This year though, changes to the rule have come into place.

When you are determining whether or not IR35 applies to you, you will either be found to be ‘inside IR35’ or ‘outside IR35’. These phrases are crucial to defining and understanding your status, and considering whether or not the legislation will impact your future contractual work.

At Designated Medical, our objective is to allow you to focus on growing your business whilst we provide the business support services you need. We offer a full range of services including Medical PA, marketing, accountancy HR and Recruitment.

We provide you with the expert financial support you need for your business, flexibly and cost-effectively, so that you can ensure you deliver the greatest client experience. Our team of Designated Medical Accountants are fully qualified and licenced and will take responsibility for the professional management of your finances. They will be supported daily by our team of qualified bookkeepers who will handle the day-to-day transactions.

If you would like to know more about our Accountancy services, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our friendly finance team who will be more than happy to answer any enquiries you may have.

 

April newsletter

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