In 2018, a Deloitte report stated that companies with inclusive cultures were six times more likely to be more innovative and agile. The thinking being that leveraging the mix of experiences and backgrounds of employees ultimately has been seen to improve better business outcomes by a factor of eight.
With this in mind, the same report also stated that embracing diversity without inclusion ultimately doesn’t work. These need to take place together.
Neurodiversity is an aspect of diversity that is starting to become more mainstream in some large successful businesses such as Deloitte and EY. Businesses are starting to recognise the benefits that come from leveraging the different way of thinking that a neurodiverse employee brings to the team.
In a recent discussion that I had with a HR manager in a small charity based in East Anglia, one of their employees divulged that they thought that they were on the Autistic Spectrum as well as having ADHD. It had been some months between starting employment and when they eventually had the conversation with the HR Manager about their experience of neurodiversity. The HR manager remarked that in having that discussion and asking the employee about what they needed and seeking to find ways to support their way of thinking within the workplace, the performance of the employee became noticeably greater. They became more productive, more innovative and, despite experiencing social anxiety, became even better at forming positive working relationships with their internal and external contacts. When asked why the employee had only just mentioned their neurodiversity after some months of working for the charity, they said that they initially felt that by saying anything it would go against them and that after a while they felt safe enough to be able to do so.
So what can companies do to boost the productivity and creativity of their neurodiverse employees?
Change is lead from the top.
Change in culture is difficult but it has to start with the ‘captain of the ship’. They lead the way and everyone else follows. By strategically making the decision to raise awareness about neurodiversity across the workplace and by providing training and the tools for helping neurodiverse employees to work at their best, the company will improve psychological safety across all the company and employees will be able to advocate for their needs whilst delivering positive results for the company.
IT strategic change to incorporate and promote Assistive Technology tools.
In an environment where technology is often a key element of delivering corporate goals, Assistive Technology is surprisingly not included in IT strategy across businesses. With companies such as Microsoft now including basic accessibility tools into their suite of software, in many cases, companies will have the basic tools installed already for employees to use which is a great starting point, if, employees know about them.
However, there is so much technology available that can make a huge difference to the performance of individuals in teams.
Let us use the example of spelling and grammar across the workplace. There are so many scenarios where accurate spelling and grammar is required in order to be able to communicate effectively and yet this concept doesn’t seem to be a priority at a strategic level whereby the company is investing in IT infrastructure that promotes and supports it.
On an individual level, finding spelling and grammar mistakes in key documentation or emails that one is responsible for, is embarrassing as well as causes problems with productivity when unnecessary time is wasted correcting mistakes. Thus, the employee feels anxious about how they are perceived and time and money is wasted for the organisation.
Having tools in place that are specifically designed with neurodiversity in mind to help with that process at a deeper level than what Microsoft delivers, can only be a benefit for an organisation when it is considered that up to 12% of the workforce could have challenges with spelling and grammar.
The video below shows a real-time spelling and grammar software using AI to help with writing effectively and accurately whilst also improving productivity.
Raise awareness about the UK Government’s Access To Work Scheme.
Managers in companies could make a great start in supporting neurodiversity and inclusion by making employees aware of the UK Government’s Access To Work Scheme.
Eligibility for claiming against this scheme is as follows:
As part of Access to Work, you may be eligible for:
a grant to help pay for practical support with your work
support with managing your mental health at work
For these types of support, you must:
have a physical or mental health condition or disability that means you need support to do your job or get to and from work
be 16 or over
be in paid work (or be about to start or return to paid work in the next 12 weeks)
live and work (or be about to start or return to work) in England, Scotland, or Wales - there’s a different system in Northern Ireland More information can be found at https://www.gov.uk/access-to-work/eligibility
If you are a manager in an organisation and you would like to know more about assistive technology, our product specialists at Aventido would be only too happy to give an overview of the wide range of technologies that we market.
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