Understanding the State of Neurodiversity and Inclusivity and How it Affects Workplace Environment

Modern organizations a increasingly putting a lot of emphasis on training their workforce on neurodiversity and inclusion. In a recent study of neurodiversity at workplace, analysts found a deep correlation between neurodivergent inclusivity and employee retention and loyalty. The results show that 64% of the existing neurodivergent workforce population are hoping their organization would do more to support people with neurodivergent conditions. 52% of the neurotypical workers also think on similar lines as their neurodivergent peers about promoting and supporting neurodiversity and inclusivity at their jobs.

Let us try to understand how neurodiversity and inclusion correlate to overall workplace environment and how employees see organizational efforts in these areas for retention and loyalty.

What is Neurodiversity?

Aussie sociologist Judy Singer first coined the word “neurodiversity” in the 1990s. Since then, this word has been increasingly used to define the idea of a “perfect workplace” in so many ways. There are still stigmas attached to autistic workers applying to jobs and hiring is considered as one of the biggest barriers in creating a neurodivergent and inclusive workplace. According to Texthelp, 34% have experienced difficulty in recruitment and interview processes. And, this continues to the next levels of employability at a workplace.

For instance, employees with neurodivergent personality meet with uncommon challenges throughout their employment lifecycle, irrespective of their age, gender and social conditions. 61% of these people are stigmatized for their disabilities or diversity while 56% face barriers in communicating with their workplace colleagues and staff.

So, what’s really happening when it comes to creating a neurodivergent workforce?

Neurodiversity is an idea rather than a condition that most organizations believe it to be. Its usage can be traced to the research undertaken in the context of ASD, a and social developmental condition linked to ADHD and autism where people suffering from it have difficulty learning, performing tasks and conversing with people outside of their social circle (including co-workers and helpers).

According a Harvard article, the author describes the idea of people experiencing and interacting with the environment around them and with the world in general in ways that they deem as right. Clearly, with so many types of people with different thinking, “there is no one “right” way of thinking, learning, and behaving, and differences are not viewed as deficits.”

Normalizing sound sensitivity, micro-breaks, and cutting down on euphemisms and sarcasm at workplace go a long way in creating a positive workplace culture that makes everyone feel wanted and safe.

Awareness of Neurodiversity Is Low

Only 12% of the neurodivergent and 5% of neurotypical respondents are aware that 1 in 5 people are neurodivergent.

Most people (over 91% of those surveyed) lack awareness of how common neurodiversity is. Most people work amongst neurodivergent people every day without realizing it. When we’re aware that everyone has different ways of thinking, working, and learning, we’re more likely to be understanding and inclusive in our own actions and interactions. For example, 56% of neurodivergent respondents have experienced communication barriers at work. Raising awareness could help to reduce some of the challenges experienced in the workplace.

Why focus on inclusion of neurodivergent workforce?

Organizations with excellent DEI framework are seen as an attractive destination for employment. These attract and retain talented professionals for highly challenging projects. 93% of the neurodivergent professionals evaluate the neurodiversiy and inclusion quotient of organizations before applying or continuing with them. Companies that support neurodivergent people also retain employees with great levels of satisfaction and loyalty.

In a survey of 1,000 individuals across the US, made up of 500 neurodivergent employees and 500 neurotypical employees from a wide number of organizations,it was highlighted how inclusion of neurodivergence in the workplace has made progress, but there is still more work to do.

Many neurodivergent individuals continue to experience stigma and barriers at work. Texthelp’s research reveals companies that embrace neurodiversity and actively support neurodivergent employees are more likely to have higher employee retention. They’re also more likely to attract a more diverse talent pool.

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“Our goal is that everyone feels welcome and valued in every workplace they enter. We believe that this is an important part of everyone’s future,” said Martin McKay, CEO of Texthelp.

Marin added, “Companies large and small can create positive change for themselves and their workforce by supporting a diverse range of people. Creating a workplace culture where all employees feel accepted and able to embrace and elevate their unique skills and ideas is not only good practice, but also good for business.”

Employees Value Employers That Are Inclusive

93% of neurodivergent employees would be more likely to apply to, or continue to work for, a company that was supporting neurodivergent employees well. 63% of neurotypical respondents said the same.

With today’s current issues in employee retention, it’s important for companies to understand and support their current and future workforce. Many applicants will only look into positions at companies that clearly prioritize diversity and inclusion (D&I) practices. Similarly, once an employee – both neurodivergent and neurotypical – begins working at a company, they’re more likely to stay if they feel D&I practices are being prioritized and implemented.

Future of Workplace with Inclusion and Neurodiversity

64% of neurodivergent respondents believe their organization could be doing more to support neurodiversity in the workplace. 52% of neurotypical respondents felt the same.

Many organizations have made an effort to support and embrace neurodivergent employees. However, both neurodivergent and neurotypical employees believe there is more that can – and should – be done.

Texthelp has suggested different ways employers can support neurodivergent employees. These are:

Create more awareness and training about neurodiversity

Provide neurodiversity awareness training for colleagues to improve understanding and reduce negative misconceptions

Develop support networks for neurodivergent employees

Create an employee support group for neurodivergent employees to join and create a community within the company

Be proactive and have empathy

Develop programs that support neurodivergent employees and understand that their processes in the workplace may be different than others

Create an inclusive environment

Provide inclusive technology tools to all employees, so it becomes common practice to use these tools. That way, no one feels obligated to disclose their diagnosis.

Employ more neurodivergent people

Provide training to HR professionals on best practices in creating an inclusive hiring process. This will go a long way in hiring neurodivergent people and supporting them right from the start.

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Texthelp’s Founder and CEO, Martin McKay, and Jill Houghton, President and Chief Executive Officer of Disability:IN, authored the new industry report. Together, they share the importance of creating and maintaining inclusive workplace environments for all individuals.

“The greatest resource we have is our people, and our culture starts inside by cultivating a diverse range of perspectives. We must promote and embrace diversity and provide all the necessary resources to create a sense of belonging in the workplace and to improve equity and inclusion for all,” said Houghton.

Founded in 1996, the Texthelp Group is a global technology company helping people all over the world to understand and to be understood. It has led the way in creating innovative technology for the education and workplace sectors for the last three decades.
Texthelp believes in a world where difference, disability or language are no longer barriers. It is focused on helping all people learn, understand, and communicate through the use of digital education and accessibility tools.