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Neuro-divergence at the Workplace

Neurodiversity refers to a spectrum of individuals who may have autism, dyslexia, dyspraxia, and other neurological personality traits - who often face obstacles navigating a world that is mainly accessible to neurotypicals. Neurodivergent individuals often endure stigma and discrimination, which has often prevented their hiring by many HR professionals. And in many circumstances, Neurodivergent individuals often hide their personality traits and suffer by not vocalising their unique needs at the workplace. As a result, both - the workplaces and the neurodivergent individuals suffer.


How can organisations work with Neurodivergent people to create a more inclusive workspace? How can neuro-divergent individuals be supported by organisations? Let's try to throw some light on this vital topic.


Assessing the skill sets of Neurodivergent individuals


Many neurodivergent individuals may not apply for specific roles because they might not check all the boxes given in the job description. It's probably because of their attention to detail and their unique understanding of the job profile advertised. Hiring managers can reverse this issue by structuring the job requirement advertisements in a flexible and open-ended style. This would help neurodivergent individuals understand the job needs appropriately. The human resource managers also need to remember that the interviews have to be conducted differently for people with neurodivergence because they may perceive the interview questions differently. For example, a standard interview question such as: "What is your limitation?" may elicit a brutally honest response from a person on the autism spectrum, which is not desirable. And, if a person is on the spectrum, the HR professional needs to ensure the interview space is quiet and conducive, following the person's requirements.



Explore The Unique Traits of Neurodivergent Individuals


Some organisations do not harness the strength of their Neuro-divergent workforce very well. This could be because of a lack of knowledge about the unique traits and talent of Neurodivergent individuals. These individuals are often creative, focussed and out of box thinkers and may have particular strengths. They can be championed effectively if one can identify them well in advance. One can achieve this by seeking the support of a professional in the field. Also, reports suggest that many of these individuals are more disciplined and focused than others, which can be channelised towards greater organisational productivity.


Building Inclusive Workspaces


In the present day, many organisations have started conversations around inclusivity. But, are they wholly designed as accessible for Neurodivergent individuals to feel comfortable? Though having conversations and proclamations on inclusivity is a positive step, it's essential to move ahead and create inclusive workspaces by identifying the neurodivergent individuals' unique needs. For example, having quiet spaces in the office may help them. And as their manager, having patience, empathy and being a good listener will help Neurodivergent individuals.



Overcoming Challenges


Many Neurodivergent Individuals may struggle to adjust to an office setup. Giving them the flexibility of a hybrid or remote work structure may help some. Also, miscommunication might occur because of their differences in understanding social cues. And in such situations, the organisations may have to be empathetic and patient and have open communication without making the individual uncomfortable. Organisations should also remember that some Neurodivergent individuals may have social anxiety and not want to attend office parties and other social gatherings. During such situations, it's essential to understand and not put social pressure and make the person uncomfortable to attend the event.


Break Stigma and Discrimination


One of the significant challenges that Neurodivergent individuals encounter is stigma. Organisations should ensure a no-discrimination policy that should be adhered to by the organisation and by other employees. A significant reason for Neurodivergent individuals to have low self-esteem is social stigma and discrimination. It's imperative to create awareness and a safe space within the organisational setup.


Neurodivergent individuals are different from neurotypical. But, if this difference is accepted positively, we as a society would be moving ahead as an inclusive, understanding space that accepts an individual without being limited by rigid norms and rules. It's time we collectively support and celebrate the difference within each of us.

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