Embracing Differences – How to understand and support your neurodiverse employees

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Guest Blog


 

The following guest blog has been written by Danielle Kingdon, Partner at Osborne Clark Law Firm, specialising in Employment Law.

 

Her work is mainly in the technology sector, advising businesses of all sizes from small start-ups through to large household names on all aspects of employment-related matters.

 

Danielle is passionate about Diversity & Inclusion, with a particular interest in neurodiversity and helping businesses to recognise the talent that neurodivergent employees can offer and how best to adapt to capture and ensure the success of their neurodiverse population.

 

She is a member of Osborne Clarke's Mind & Body Committee, leading the pillar dedicated to neurodiversity, and is also Osborne Clarke's Diversity Champion for Age, leading the campaign to ensure that, whatever your age, there are no barriers in the firm to having your most fulfilling career and, also, that there is support provided for all and any challenges faced at the various stages of those careers.




Danielle will be leading a session at our upcoming webinar event on Tuesday 23rd November. Find out more about her talk and register you attendance below.



Embracing Differences – How to understand and support your neurodiverse employees

It's only in the last five years that the concept of 'neurodiversity' has crept into most employers consciousness. Whilst neurodiverse employees would have been entitled to reasonable adjustments under the Equality Act prior to this point, most workplaces had no neurodiversity training, policies, forums or adjustments to recruitment procedures, and in many settings, this is still the case.

 

Through a combination of work with our forward-thinking clients, the personal experiences of those I know and work with and my interest in raising awareness of the challenges faced by neurodiverse employees, I have come to understand much more about neurodiversity in the workplace. The key discovery for me has been how very little change can have a big impact on the experience for employees and employers alike. Raising awareness among your management community and providing a voice and support systems for those needing help can be transformative. At Osborne Clarke we have established a Neurodiversity Forum – a group of people interested in supporting the neurodiverse population and either impacted personally or just motivated to drive inclusivity. We are designing an intranet page, welcoming guest speakers and working with other Osborne Clarke teams to make sure the experience, from first contact on recruitment, to the day to day work experience enables our neurodiverse population to their best work.


"The key discovery for me has been how very little change can have a big impact on the experience for employees and employers alike."


 

Neurodiversity is often described as a 'hidden disability' – many neurodiverse employees struggle with challenges invisible to their employers, and the impact of being dyslexic, dyspraxic, having ADHD or autism are often mistaken for conduct issues, poor performance or a poor attitude; this can result in many undesirable HR issues, including grievances, conflict in teams and ultimately Employment Tribunal claims. My experience of working with employers is that raising awareness among managers and the general workforce reduces the number of grievances and performance issues generated as it gives neurodiverse employees the confidence to share their difficulties, and managers the understanding to explore what adjustments and support can be put in place. Changing how instructions are conveyed, how reporting is provided, times of work or the physical aspects of the work environment can stop issues escalating and reduce levels of sickness absence. Coaching between the employee and their manager is also valuable for finding solutions to ongoing issues. Providing employers with specialist support has been highly valued by my clients.

 

 

Neurominorities ability to think differently is widely underutilised - this should be addressed as neurodiverse employees are specialist thinkers, the very best at what they are good at. For those wanting to get started; consider your recruitment advertisements – do they clearly convey your support of neurominorities in your business? Are you offering the right reasonable adjustments to recruitment processes, for example, some neurodiverse employees perform better in on-the-job assessment, rather than a traditional interview. Once employees have joined your organisation, consider the ongoing support you can provide at crucial stages of their careers, including promotion, role changes and during any periods of disruption or change. If you create an environment where the neurodiverse can be their best selves, the benefits to your business will shortly follow.

 


Blog written by Danielle Kingdon, Partner at Osborne Clark

 

If you would like to find out more about our services then contact our team.



Take a look at some of our related articles:


Webinar Event Announcement

Dyslexia Box are hosting a FREE webinar event titled Neurodiversity in the Corporate World: Untapped Talent, Employee Retention and Success on Tuesday 23rd November. Find out more about each expert who will be speaking at the event and register your attendance today!

Guy Brewer - YouTube Channel

Guy recently started his own YouTube channel to help spread awareness of neurodivergent conditions and assist people in overcoming their personal barriers. On his channel you'll find helpful tips, motivational stories and the key differences of each type of neurodiversity. 

Mental Health Support in the Workplace

Considering the strain of the pandemic on our mental health, Dyslexia Box want to highlight the Access to Work Mental Health Support Service - which offers free mental health support to help people start or stay in work.

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