In the United States, 1 in 5 people have learning and thinking differences, such as dyslexia and ADHD. Employing these types of neurodiverse individuals increases diversity in your organization and can drive innovation. Here are some ways for you to best accommodate neurodiverse employees:
Be Ready for a Conversation
It is important to not make assumptions about someone’s abilities based on them being neurodiverse. Some employees may be able to meet all job expectations without any assistance. Some may need accommodations as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This should not deter you from hiring employees of varying abilities, and in fact it is important to be aware of potential bias and discrimination issues. Have conversations with all your neurodiverse employees to determine what they need to be successful. This conversation can easily be started by asking something similar to, “How can I, as a leader, support you in your work?” Questions like this give employees an open forum to explain the accommodations that best help them.
When implementing accommodations, it is important to keep employees’ medical information confidential. This is especially important if other employees are questioning the need for accommodations. This is a delicate balance where you don’t want other employees to feel as though they are being treated unfairly, but you also need to maintain privacy for the employee receiving accommodations. One script that works well is, “The employee has permission from me to perform their work in this way. Our company treats employees individually and makes considerations based on good business reasons, while maintaining the privacy of each employee.”
Create a Safe Work Environment
Some neurodiverse employees may have trouble speaking up about their challenges and need for accommodations out of fear of being discriminated against. To make sure all of your employees feel comfortable in your workplace, encourage discussions about the company’s commitment to helping all employees be successful. This can help all your employees to feel safe and included.
Promoting any kind of diversity in your workplace takes some work but is ultimately worth it. Taking these things into consideration can help you better accommodate all types of employees in your workplace.