By Celia Daniels, on Nov 20, 2019

Benefits of Neurodiversity in the Workplace

It is well understood by now that having a diverse workplace is not only the right thing to do, but brings many benefits to the companies that hire candidates from diverse backgrounds. But while many employers are making strides toward bringing on more non-white and LGBTQ candidates, they often overlook another key area of diversity and inclusion: neurodiversity.

In addition to adding unique insights and perspectives to your office, neurodiversity in the workplace brings benefits that you may not have previously considered. When contemplating a neurodiverse hire, consider the ways they can improve your business.

Neurodiverse Staff Build Workplace Effectiveness

When your team is all of the same mindset on an issue, you may think that you’ve created a harmonious work culture and avoided workplace conflicts, but you’ve also limited your team’s ability to solve problems and come up with ideas. Diversity drives innovation, and there’s nothing worse for producing new ideas than an echo chamber.

This is just as true with neurodiversity as with other types of diverse employees in fact, there are a lot of ways that neurodiversity works as a competitive advantage. Like everyone else, neurodiverse individuals or those on the autism spectrum have strengths and weaknesses, and some research suggests special aptitude toward pattern recognition, memory, and mathematical challenges.

Neurological differences like autism or ADHD are natural variations in human genetics, and taking advantage of an employee’s unique skills is good practice, whether that’s putting someone with an inherently sunny demeanor in a sales job or presenting tasks to a neurodiverse individual that they will excel at.

Neurodiverse Staff Makes Your Workplace Healthier

Making your workplace “healthier” has two meanings here. The first meaning refers to a diversification of in-office opinions, but paying attention to the comfort of your diverse employees, especially neurodiverse ones, will make your working environment better for your staff.

As you invite neurodiverse staff members into your office space, you may have to make accommodations to ensure that they can work comfortably. Sometimes (not always), being neurodiverse qualifies as a disability, mandating reasonable adjustments to the workplace: this may mean allowing them to work in a quieter part of the building or with unique equipment. Sometimes it might simply mean making accommodations for communication or working schedules. These are not difficult concessions to make, and by doing so, you create an atmosphere of acceptance.

Within that atmosphere, non-neurodiverse staff members, or staff members who haven’t admitted to being neurodiverse, will see that there are ways of working that don’t match up with the status quo. With this realization comes the potential for broader office change.

Demonstrating your commitment to diversity and inclusion, as well as being cognizant of your employee’s unique needs, is good practice both ethically and practically, and will make your employees feel safer and more comfortable in their workplace.

Neurodiverse Staff Give Your Business a Competitive Edge

As you may have guessed, hiring neurodiverse staff will allow you to outmaneuver your competition more easily. Why?

There are a multitude of reasons, many of which you’ve already seen here:

  • Hiring neurodiverse staff allows employees throughout your office to openly discuss their own mental health without fear of stigma. Doing so promotes a healthier work environment.
  • Neurodiverse individuals are an untapped pool of talent, and by ensuring that you are considering them when making hiring decisions gives you a competitive edge over your competitors who don’t
  • Neurodiverse employees bring unique experiences and skillsets to your office, helping your build effectiveness and diversify your outlook on your engaging audience.
  • Diversity of all kinds contributes to creativity, innovation, and competitiveness — the greater the diversity of your staff, the more unique ideas and perspectives you’ll be able to bring to any given problem, and that include neurodiversity

Take those factors into account, and you’ll find that a neurodiverse office space becomes one that rapidly outthinks and outperforms heterogeneous spaces. If your competition has yet to provide space for neurodiverse employees, beat them to the punch. You’ll find not only that the atmosphere inside your office improves, but the way your business operates and connects with a consumer audience will transform.

Opinions expressed by Daivergent contributors are their own.