There are many facets to employing people. As your small business grows and you start building a team, not only will you need to grow accustomed to employment law (or at least the basics), but you’ll also need to consider more sensitive subjects. In this post, 1st Formations covers neurodiversity, and how you can foster a workplace that nurtures and embraces people affected by this.
But first, what is neurodiversity?
You will probably think of most people as ‘neurotypical’. This means that they will process information in a way that is to be expected by society.
1 in 7 people, however, process information slightly differently – in a way that society wouldn’t necessarily expect. These people are ‘neurodivergent’.
The below conditions are all covered by the term:
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- Developmental coordination disorder
- Developmental language disorder
- Foetal alcohol spectrum disorder
- Intellectual disability
- Tic disorders
Estimates suggest that more than 15% of the UK population is neurodivergent. This means, as a business owner who is looking to build a fantastic workforce, you are highly likely to come across neurodivergent people.
Neurodivergent individuals will be a benefit to your business
Different people will always have different approaches to work.
In a small business this will often be an advantage, as different perspectives will fuel conversation and collaboration.
A business that recognises and then embraces neurodiversity broadens its scope even further, as it opens itself up to new avenues for creativity and problem-solving – further assisting with innovation and hopefully growth.
Whilst it’s important to highlight that every neurodiverse person experiences their condition in a different way, they will often possess skills that could be invaluable to the success of a business.
For example, if someone has autism, they may have some of the below traits:
- Attention to detail
- Deep focus
- Fact retention
- Methodical approach
Likewise, someone with dyslexia may have these traits:
- ‘Big picture’ thinking
- Easily adaptable
- Strong reasoning
It’s all about getting the best out of someone in a way that they find comfortable and enjoy.
Welcoming neurodivergent people will not only assist the top line of your business, but will also help cultivate a diverse company culture.
Ways you can help your neurodivergent team members
As the owner of a business, there are a number of things that you can do to ensure that your workplace looks after its existing neurodivergent staff, and appeals to neurodivergent candidates when you are recruiting.
1. Talk to your team
A neurodivergent person is under no obligation to tell you about their condition.
Your aim as a business owner is to create an environment where everyone is comfortable talking to you. Arrange regular one-to-ones with every member of the team, where you can discuss work, and if they’re comfortable, personal life too.
By putting team members at ease in your presence, you are more likely to find out about any challenges they are facing (caused by a condition or something else) and be able to put in place the necessary steps to help them.
2. Tailor your workspace
Is your office helping or hindering the neurodivergent members of your team?
The key to a neurodivergent-friendly office is creating a selection of different spaces, where people can work where they want.
If you employ someone with ADHD, they are likely to be easily distracted, so ensure there are quiet areas in the workplace to help them concentrate. If a member of your team thrives on creative tasks, build a space where they can move about, listen to music, collaborate with other members of your team, and make some noise.
3. Be flexible
One of the obvious ways to help your neurodivergent staff is to give them a choice.
It may be that an office environment is wholly unsuitable for some people. In these cases, work with individuals to map out their week. Perhaps they want to work remotely all the time, or maybe a day in the office here and there will help.
This is also related to the tasks that people do. If a specific piece of work is challenging, pass that on to someone else and give them a job that they do well and enjoy.
By being flexible and working to the strengths of all members of your team, you can build an efficient (and satisfied) workforce.
4. Train them the right way
All businesses need to train their staff, but not all businesses take into consideration the needs of their neurodiverse team members. Instead, they provide one resource in one style that everyone must work with. This is a waste of time.
If you know that someone on your team is neurodiverse, ask what learning methods work best for them. Then tailor their training to their needs.
If someone is a visual learner, turn that document into a video or infographic. If someone is more kinesthetic, switch that slideshow into a role-play.
This won’t just help the neurodiverse members of your team; it will help everyone.
So there you have it
There is no doubt that a workforce that comprises of different genders, ethnicities and cultures is a huge advantage to a business, from a purely ‘business’ perspective, but also from a company culture perspective. Businesses must recognise that neurodiverse people need to become part of this conversation too.
We hope this post has helped, as you strive to build a successful and truly inclusive business.
1st Formations are the UK’s premier company formation agent. Having formed more than 1 million companies and boasting thousands of 5-star reviews on Google and Trustpilot – they are the ideal choice for helping you start your business journey. Browse their company formation packages now.