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.

April newsletter

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