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Hiring Neurodiverse Candidates - How To Attract And Support Talent

Neurodiverse talent can be a significant asset to your company, bringing unique perspectives, experiences, and skills that can help you to drive superior results. 

For example, according to the National Autistic Society UK, individuals with autism possess exceptional abilities that can greatly benefit businesses. A study conducted by the society found that 16% of autistic adults are in full-time employment, highlighting the potential for neurodiverse employees to actively contribute to the workforce. 

Research has also proven the undeniable value of neurodiverse talent for businesses looking to gain a competitive edge. A study by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, for instance, found that organisations embracing neurodiversity reported a wide range of benefits, including increased innovation and problem-solving capabilities. 

The UK’s Office for National Statistics reported that companies employing a diverse workforce (including neurodiverse individuals) were shown to outperform competitors by up to 15% in terms of financial performance, while a survey conducted by the Institute of Directors found that 76% of UK business leaders agreed that neurodiverse individuals enhanced creativity and productivity. 

To effectively attract and support neurodiverse employees, some adjustments will likely be required across your business. Creating a culture that’s more receptive, inclusive, and sensitive to the needs of different workers is crucial - and this applies to everything from interview processes to office arrangements. 

However, these adjustments can pay off massively in the long run, enabling you to attract unique talent, increase productivity, and cultivate a more open and diverse workplace. 

Let’s explore how you can attract more neurodiverse employees to your company, and build a workplace culture that helps these individuals to flourish. 

Educate your existing workforce

Before you begin to actively engage and recruit neurodiverse talent, it’s extremely important to educate your existing workforce on the subject. 

Around 15-20% of the population is considered to be neurodivergent, meaning neurodiverse workers may be more common than you assume. This is why proper education and workforce training is so important - support for neurodiverse talent will need to be fostered throughout your company, and that means raising awareness at every level of the business. 

Professional training (e.g. Workplace Awareness) can help to educate teams on the benefits of neurodiverse employees, highlight frequent challenges that a neurodivergent colleague may experience, and remove negative stigmas around the topic. 

You might also look into nominating employees to become workplace advocates through neurodiversity training, which can equip workers with the knowledge they need to assist their colleagues and implement company-wide improvements. 

The more educated your workforce is about neurodiversity, the easier it will become to attract and support new staff. 

This type of education can also benefit existing staff who may not yet be diagnosed with a condition. There are many reasons why someone might not receive a formal diagnosis as an adult - for example, women are disproportionately overlooked in terms of early diagnoses, while candidates from disadvantaged backgrounds can also struggle to be assessed.

When you actively promote and encourage education around neurodiversity in your business, it can help these individuals to feel more comfortable opening up and suggesting adjustments for the company. 

Re-think your recruitment strategy 

You may find that your current recruitment process is built around neurotypical candidates, meaning some tweaks will be required to attract neurodiverse applicants.

For example, tweaking your job ads can be a huge step in the right direction. Make sure you’re clearly highlighting your commitment to diversity and inclusion, and try to remove jargon and non-essential skills that may deter a neurodivergent individual from applying. 

There’s also likely to be room for improvement in your screening process. 

Judging neurodiverse candidates based on their past experience can be tricky if they haven’t previously received the support they need, so try to create a more open and understanding framework that allows for some nuance in terms of employment criteria. 

Blind, questionnaire-based interviews can also be a great way to eliminate unconscious bias and provide neurodiverse talent with a level playing field. 

Create a flexible and supportive work environment 

If you want to truly support neurodiverse staff, then you should consider making some active adjustments and accommodations within the workplace. 

For instance, creating safe spaces and ‘quiet zones’ can be hugely beneficial for certain individuals that are sensitive to noise or easily distracted. 

If you’re not able to adjust your office environment, then hybrid working is a great way to promote flexibility and productivity among your workforce. The hustle and bustle of the office isn’t ideal for everyone, and offering remote-working options can make a big difference here.

On top of this, if you’re not sure what types of spaces or amenities will be the most useful, then don’t hesitate to gather feedback from your staff. 

Although it can initially feel difficult to approach this subject with your employees, there are tactful ways to gather the information you need to make reasonable adjustments. 

Workplace needs assessments, for example, are a good way to engage neurodiverse talent across your business and identify ways in which you can assist them. It could be that a dyslexic individual requires coloured screen software, or an employee with ADHD needs support with managing deadlines - once you’ve acknowledged these specific needs, you can work to implement the right adjustments. 

Investing in neurodiversity training for staff members and assigning them as dedicated mentors can also be hugely beneficial for neurodiverse employees. Studies show that organisations providing mentors to neurodiverse workers report a 16% increase in profitability and an 18% increase in productivity.

Nurture an inclusive workplace culture

Finally, aiming to build a more inclusive, open, and welcoming culture will go a long way when you’re trying to attract neurodiverse talent.

Unconscious bias training can help all staff members to become more aware of their own biases and better equipped to deal with them. This is particularly important for hiring managers, as they’ll need to ensure that personal biases aren’t influencing recruitment decisions or working against neurodivergent candidates. 

Encouraging open communication among employees is also vitally important for creating a safe and supportive atmosphere. 

You may be surprised at how many of your current employees are neurodivergent, and a more receptive workplace culture will be better for everyone. For example, if you openly promote your support for neurodiverse talent and take consistent actions to improve your workplace, then staff may feel more comfortable disclosing their conditions and suggesting improvements.

Unlocking the potential of neurodiverse talent can be incredibly beneficial for your business, and with a few adjustments to your recruitment strategy and workplace environment, you can foster a culture that brings the best out of these employees. 

Looking for more guidance on recruiting and nurturing neurodiverse workers? At Barclay Meade, our specialists can provide you with all the support, information, and resources you need to make major strides in this department.

Is your business looking to hire? Send us your vacancy details and we'll be in touch.

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