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Atlanta
Digital

 

It’s Neurodiversity Celebration Week (see below), and new research from Eagle Hill Consulting reveals that 68% of U.S. employees are either unfamiliar with the term neurodiversity, or don’t know its meaning. And, while 72 percent of employees say they would hire a neurodivergent employee, few workers are trained on working with or managing neurodivergent workers. These findings are detailed in a new report, Neurodiversity in the Workplace: Are Organizations Overlooking Their Highly Capable Neurodivergent Employees When Creating the Conditions for Corporate Success? 

Neurodiversity can encompass a number of differences including autism spectrum conditions, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, Tourette syndrome, dyslexia, dyspraxia and dyscalculia, among others. As a group, the neurodiverse often experience high rates of un- or under-employment, as high as 80 percent.

“By some estimates, about 15 to 20 percent of the population is neurodiverse, and some employers increasingly are aware that these individuals can provide a competitive advantage,” says Melissa Jezior, Eagle Hill Consulting’s president and chief executive officer.

“Neurodivergent employees often add tremendous value to a company with unique talents such as innovative problem solving, heightened attention to detail, sharp math and data analytics skills, reliability, and perseverance,” she continued. “But they also can face a multitude of big obstacles in the workplace – stigmas that create an inhospitable work environment, social and communication difficulties, sensory sensitives that make a typical workplace overwhelming, or executive functioning challenges that can hinder their organization, time management, and productivity.”

The new Eagle Hill research finds that when evaluating employee performance, most consider the ability to communicate clearly (55 percent) and stay organized (54 percent), as important evaluation criteria, skills that often are challenging for neurodivergent employees. The research also finds that most workers (85 percent) indicate that they aren’t aware of promotions of neurodivergent workers, which isn’t surprising given that performance metrics for neurotypical employees may not be aligned with the skills of neurodiverse workers.     

“The good news is that some companies are creating programs to actively hire neurodivergent workers, build awareness, meet their needs, and foster a supportive culture,” Jezior said. “But our research is clear that there is much work to be done in terms of raising awareness in the workplace about neurodivergent employees and implementing training and accommodations that enable these employees to thrive. If leaders aren’t trained on how to effectively manage workers and there isn’t a culture that values their skills, companies can’t leverage the unique strengths of these bright employees.”

What Is Neurodiversity Celebration Week?
March 18-24, 2024

Founded in 2018, Neurodiversity Celebration Week is a worldwide initiative that challenges stereotypes and misconceptions about neurological differences. It aims to transform how neurodivergent individuals are perceived and supported by providing schools, universities, and organizations with the opportunity to recognize the many talents and advantages of being neurodivergent, while creating more inclusive and equitable cultures that celebrate differences and empower every individual.

“For example, one of the most critical steps organizations can take is to ensure leaders are properly trained and equipped to successfully manage and support neurodivergent employees,” Jezior said. “It’s also important to create mentorship and professional development opportunities for neurodivergent employees. Implementing thoughtful strategies for these out-of-the-box thinkers is a win for employees, managers, and the organization.”

Neurodiversity in the Workplace
Eagle Hill Consulting.

 

According to the Eagle Hill poll:

  • Fifty-seven percent of workers say training in sensitivity to social differences would be valuable, and 56 percent indicated they would be interested in training on managing neurodivergent employees. Yet, only 14 percent say that training is offered at their workplace.
  • Only 16 percent of employees say there have been formal conversations about neurodiversity in their organization, and only 19 percent can affirm that neurodiversity is part of their corporate diversity, equity and inclusion programs.
  • Some 69 percent of employees report that their employer does not seek out advice and input from neurodivergent employees when designing office spaces, teams, and project management systems.
Click here to read more facility management news and information about Workplace Culture. 

7 Steps To Unleash The Potential Of Neurodivergent Employees

Eagle Hill’s guide, How to Embrace Neurodiversity in the Workplace: 7 Strategies for Unleashing the Potential of Neurodivergent Employees offers the following tips for improving the workplace environment for all.

1. Make neurodiversity part of your DEI strategy
2. Revamp traditional hiring approaches
3. Foster an inclusive culture, beginning with a check for biases
4. Redefine employee engagement
5. Level up DEI training for supervisors and explore additional career supports
6. Communicate clearly
7. Consider neurodivergent employees when designing office space

Click here to read the full report and get more detailed information on the steps above.

Facility Executive Magazine