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.

Top social media trends for your 2022 marketing strategy

Top social media trends for your 2022 marketing strategy

Social Media Trends 2022

Your customers are already searching, liking and sharing their favourite products, brands and services on social media—and they’re spending more time on these sites than ever before. But this activity doesn’t stop at consumer products, they are using social media in all aspects of their lives. 

Investing in social media marketing can help you grow your business thanks to its cost-effective advertising, smooth eCommerce capabilities, and the ability to give your brand a way to engage with your customers in a  human way. 

If it’s not easy for them to find you online, they can easily become frustrated and find another provider that better serves their needs.

Social media has become an essential part of the marketing mix, with more than three billion people worldwide spending over two hours a day socializing on social networks and messaging apps. Your business can tap into this pool of potential customers to increase user engagement and gain new leads—but you need to build a social media strategy that accurately reflects your business’s goals.

That’s why looking to the experts for their social media top tips and trends can be a great place to start as you begin to build your marketing and social media strategy. 

Hubspot recently shared their top to trends to look out for in 2022 and beyond

  1. TikTok will dominate the social media space.
  2. Reaching new audiences will become the number one social media goal for businesses.
  3. Companies will make more dedicated social media hires.
  4. Augmented Reality will become consumers’ preferred way to try-on products and interact with brands.
  5. Businesses in the B2B space will increase their investments in Instagram and Twitter.
  6. Influencer marketing will mature in 2022.
  7. Social advertising will become more sophisticated.
  8. Businesses will invest in more long-form and short-form content, as well as live audio chat rooms.
  9. Social selling demands will grow.
  10. Consumers will crave snackable content.

 There are many social media trends reports circulating but they all seem to share the same ideas, this is interesting when many brands have written off platforms like TikTok, seeing them as a fast-growing pandemic fad or influencer marketing as low return on investment. 

As marketers, it is interesting to be part of an industry that is constantly evolving, and with now people more than ever using social media to inform their purchasing decisions, it has never been more important to ensure you’re making the most of the tools and platforms available to you. When social media isn’t prioritized, organizations miss out on the 

opportunity to optimize platforms and turn them into revenue generators. 

If you’re looking to reach new audiences, trial new platforms, increase your paid social investments or create snackable content to share your story, then our marketing team which includes experts within the social media sphere can help guide you through the process. 

 

Managing small business cash flow and income in 2022

Managing small business cash flow and income in 2022

finance designated

Content from this article was originally posted by XERO.

 While there are many advantages of being your own boss and running your own small business it isn’t always easy and it can come with hurdles you didn’t even know existed. Then throw in 12 months of restrictions, lockdowns and uncertainty.

The scale of the impact felt by the self-employed is abundantly clear in latest research by simply business. They found Covid-19 will cost SMEs an estimated £126.6 billion – double what owners predicted it would cost them. With six million SMEs in the UK – accounting for over 99% of all businesses, 33% of employment and 21% of all turnover – this £126.6 billion hole in the books of small businesses is a huge blow to the economy.

 It’s been a lean time for small businesses, and especially the families supporting them.

Xero’s small business trends report shows that 60% of small business owners are worried about their household finances running low. So while 2022 will hopefully be a year of rebounding sales and revenue, owners really need that to carry through to the business’ bottom line.

What the experts say

“Businesses must analyse margins and focus on the products and services that generate actual profits as they try to restore cash to the business,” says Ya Wen How, an accountant at AccountServe, who participated in the report.

While there will be a temptation to withdraw any spare cash from the business as ‘owner’s drawings’, experts say it’s important to be mindful of upcoming and potentially unknown expenses.

“Owners often overlook upcoming business expenses when taking drawings, which creates cash flow issues later,” says David Stephens, an accountant at Stephens Financial Services. These cash flow issues create further disruption to the household budget because money has to be put back to the business. 

“Rather than clearing out the business bank account, owners are better off paying themselves a modest amount at regular intervals,” Stephens advises.

Takeaways for small businesses

There are a few things small businesses can do to help support their recovery according to Xero’s small business trends report:

  • Analyse your business margins and focus on products that generate the most profit

  • Create a ‘rainy day fund’ within the business so you’re not constantly loaning it money from your personal savings

  • Schedule regular, sustainable drawings to ease home budgeting

  • Keep your regular drawings modest, as you can always give yourself a bonus payment at the end of a good year

Check out other trends for 2022

Read Xero’s small business trends report to learn more about how to manage your cash and income to set your business up for success in 2022.

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.

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