The last UK census showed that employment for non disabled adults sat at 81% while for disabled adults the figure was only 52%. But when you look a layer deeper into employment rates for different disabilities the figures are far more startling. For adults with autism the employment rate was only 21.7% versus 57% for adults with disabilities related to sight or 60.8% for adults with disabilities related to legs and feet (Source). ED&I professionals have a key role to play in promoting greater neurodiversity in the workplace and ensuring that all employees have the opportunity to thrive.
Neurodiversity refers to the natural variation in how the brain works. This includes conditions such as dyslexia, autism, ADHD, and dyspraxia, among many others. Historically, neurodiverse individuals have faced discrimination in the workplace due to misunderstandings and misconceptions about their abilities.
One of the key reasons why neurodiverse employees are often overlooked is because their abilities are not well understood by recruiters, managers or colleagues. Research shows that making accommodations for neurodiverse employees can lead to significant benefits for both individuals and companies. By making accommodations for neurodiverse employees in the same way many companies have made accommodations for employees with physical accessibility needs, companies can reap significant financial benefits. According to a report by the Department for Work and Pensions, the cost of supporting an employee with autism is on average only £3,000 per year, while the cost of losing an employee can be up to £30,000. This means that investing in accommodations for neurodiverse employees can be a cost-effective way to retain talent and boost productivity.
So what kinds of accommodations can be made? This will depend on the specific needs of each individual, but some examples include providing flexible working hours, reducing sensory overload in the workplace, and offering assistive technologies such as speech recognition software or dyslexia-friendly fonts. Ultimately the best way to make accommodations for your neurodiverse candidates and employees is to create an environment where you can ask the question and individuals feel safe and secure enough to answer honestly and without fear of bias, unconscious or otherwise.
Neurodiversity represents a significant untapped talent pool for UK businesses. By making such accommodations for neurodiverse employees, companies can create a more inclusive and supportive environment that enables all employees to reach their full potential, while also reaping financial benefits through increased productivity and reduced staff turnover.
If you are looking for ways to improve the employee experience for your neurodiverse candidates and employees, get in touch