The benefits of neurodiversity have helped all of us over time. Most of us will have neurodiverse friends or colleagues, even if we're unaware of it. Some of the greatest inventions the world has seen have come from the minds of neurodivergent individuals, including Albert Einstein, Bill Gates and Henry Ford.
Although society has been slow in recognising the benefits that can come from different ways of thinking, many businesses have adopted strategies to enable them to tap into this talent pool. SAP, Dell and Goldman Sachs are just three global enterprises nurturing diverse talent. But this isn't merely the realm of the big players – neurodivergent hiring can offer advantages for all employers, no matter how small.
One of the benefits of neurodiversity is to widen the pool available when looking for new employees. Between 30-40% of the population is in some way neurodiverse, so a failure to hire from this section of society dramatically reduces your chances of finding the best talent.
Secondly, some of the most talented individuals in the world are neurodivergent. There may be differences when it comes to the likes of social skills, sensory needs or communication, but many neurodiverse people are highly-creative, original in thought and excellent problem-solvers.
Thirdly, a diverse hiring program is good for your brand. In today's world, businesses can no longer compete for the best talent on the grounds of pay alone. Employees – and those who want to do business with you – care about a brand's ethics. If two brands are offering the same job for the same salary, they need additional points of difference in order to outdo each other.
There may be specific reasons why some companies don't tap neurodiverse talent, but it largely comes down to a lack of education. Some employers are simply unaware of the benefits of hiring neurodiverse individuals and so fail to see that such employees can actually help deliver the goals found within their brand's strategic vision.
It's similar to views found within wider society. There are plenty of stereotypes still in existence, such as a view of autistic people being drawn from Dustin Hoffman's performance in Rain Man. Many people have grown up in a world where neurodiverse people were marginalised in society and so have little experience when it comes to communicating with different kinds of people.
Furthermore, many companies that have embraced the benefits of neurodiversity fall down when it comes to the hiring stage. Those looking into neurodiversity recruitment need to adapt their hiring program, so both the neurodivergent and neurotypical are able to perform to the best of their ability.
Many neurodiverse people have greater skill-sets when compared to neurotypical individuals. We've already discussed specifics such as creativity and problem-solving, but think what serious levels of innovation can do for your company.
Since the dawn of the internet, business is changing at a faster rate than ever before. No week goes by without new software hitting the market that enables firms to be more organised, more productive and more analytical. The difference between brands is becoming smaller, and it's becoming harder for businesses to gain an advantage. Finding new ideas can mean the difference between success and failure.
We looked at why neurodiversity is good for business at the start of this article, and there are benefits beyond the immediate impact in the workplace.
Hiring with neurodiversity in mind is simply the right approach to take. No matter what our lifestyle preferences, mental or physical make-up, we're all individuals with thoughts and talents of our own. For too long, society has attempted to put humans into categories, often to our own detriment. A more inclusive world in which everyone can be themselves is of benefit to all.
Linked to this are workplace issues such as productivity, wellbeing and employee retention. If employees are allowed to be themselves, they'll likely be happier at work. Happier employees are more productive and more likely to show loyalty. Low staff turnover rates are good for employee morale, are a point-of-difference when it comes to attracting new talent, and contribute towards a positive brand reputation.
Gaining the benefits of neurodiversity means adopting a different working approach, from hiring to onboarding and beyond. You'll need to expand on your own knowledge – see our article on neurodivergent examples, definition and types as a starting point.
In seeking employment, the challenge for many neurodiverse people comes with the traditional interview process. Interviewing neurodiverse candidates means changing your methods to allow for the specific needs of individuals. Playing the usual interview 'game' with no consideration towards environmental or sensory needs will not allow neurodiverse individuals to perform at their best.
Beyond the interview stage, it's essential that those managing neurodiverse employees offer support in the workplace. This isn't something that can be done by one person. All levels of your business need to be educated and aware of the kind of adaptations your business needs to facilitate the requirements of all your employees.
This may sound challenging but think of it in terms of making changes for the better. If your business has managed to survive two years of pandemic and enforced lockdowns, shifting your philosophy to enable the very best talent to succeed in your company is simple by comparison!
Once we recognise that neurodivergent employees are potentially game-changers within the business world, the discussion changes from 'why' to 'how'. Given the untold benefits that neurodiversity can offer your business, the next logical step is a shift towards empowering candidates to succeed both during the hiring process and then within the workplace itself.
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Elements are the pioneers and leaders of Embedded Talent Consultancy. Our consultants are embedded within some of the world’s best-known organisations, solving their toughest and most complex hiring challenges.
In addition to our work with leading brands, including Spotify, IKEA and TikTok, we have helped scale SME's and Start-ups, including Zendesk and Stitch & Story.