In Canada, the not-for-profit and for-profit sectors are having a challenging time filling vacant staff positions. Unemployment is at an all-time low and vacancies are at an all-time high. One answer to this challenge is to make your workplace a “Neurodiverse Workplace”, but first, what does “Neurodiversity” actually mean?

Articles and posts about “neurodiversity” in the workplace are becoming more common today, and essentially, neurodiversity describes the idea that people experience and interact with the world around them in many different ways; there is no one “right” way of thinking, learning, and behaving, and differences are not viewed as deficits. As an example, people used to say, “they have a learning disability”, however, today it is more appropriate to say, “they learn differently”.

What is “neurodiversity” in the workplace?
Neurodiversity is an aspect of diversity that enhances the workplace in numerous ways. People with neurocognitive disabilities have talents, perspectives and skills that can be distinctly beneficial in many work environments.

What are some examples of neurodiversity?
ADHD, Autism, Dyspraxia, Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, Dysgraphia, and Tourette’s syndrome are all examples of neurodiverse conditions. They are diagnostic labels used to explain the diverse ways of thinking, learning, processing and behaving.

What benefits do you think a neurodiverse individual could bring to the workplace?
Neurodiverse employees bring unique experiences and skillsets to your office, helping you build effectiveness and diversify your outlook on your engaging audience.

How do you create neurodiversity in the workplace?

  1. Get buy-in from all levels… Involve staff throughout your organization when developing your policy/practices.
  2. Engage with the local community… Engage your local community and local neurodiverse organizations when implementing your policy/practices.
  3. Adjust your hiring practices… Adjust your hiring practices to be supportive of neurodiverse applicants.
  4. Be patient… Implementing neurodiverse policies/practices will take time. Your organization will need to be patient with the change process.
  5. Organize expert-driven, two-way training… Implement training for all staff by experts in neurodiversity.
  6. Be ready and willing to accommodate… An openness to accommodation will be a necessity if you are going to implement neurodiverse policies/practices successfully.
  7. Amplify the message… Amplify your message creating a neurodiverse workplace. Talk about it, spread the word, normalize the practice.

Embracing “neurodiversity” in the workplace is important for healthy workplaces and is also a way to respond to the challenges of a reduced workforce.

Neurodiversity will enhance the workplace in numerous ways. People who are neurodiverse have talents, perspectives and skills that can be distinctly beneficial in many work settings. Employers are beginning to understand these benefits and are developing hiring initiatives that focus on recruiting neurodiverse employees. These hiring practices have been proven to be beneficial for organizations of all sizes.

Hiring neurodiverse employees can provide your organization with a competitive edge and bring benefits, both financially and in terms of workplace culture. To learn more about best practices for designing and implementing a successful and scalable program to recruit, hire, retain and advance neurodivergent employees, contact The Osborne Group. The Osborne Group has several Human Resources Principals who can assist you in learning more about Neurodiversity in the Workplace.

Ellis Katsof is a Principal with The Osborne Group – Interim Senior Executive – NFP Sector.