What if I tell you that you’re missing out on 1 in 10 of your potential top-talent choices?
Yes, we’re talking about a pool of talent containing highly qualified professionals with some of the most in-demand skills that probably aren’t even on your radar!
Read this article to find out what big employers know about hiring talent that you might not. It’s time to invest in neurodiversity.
Benefits neurodiversity in the workplace
Instead, they see the advantage of hiring and investing in neurodiversity as ticking “the diversity box” rather than recognizing the benefits they bring to a workforce.
Hiring a neurodiverse workforce is an accurate move—many top companies, including Microsoft, Ford, Accenture, Ernst and Young, GE, and various other big names are now placing a hiring focus on neurodivergent talent.
Microsoft is proactively stimulating the search for neurodivergent applicants. The company has created a new digital job board and talent engagement platform to encourage neurodivergent candidates to apply for roles. This marketplace enables candidates to discover job openings and connect with a breadth of employers and position types. These roles highlight some of the most likely opportunities for neurodivergent applicants.
What is neurodiversity?
Neurodiversity refers to the idea that all of our brains function uniquely, giving each rationale a different perspective. A neurodivergent workforce shows a greater retention rate, high motivation, and also an increase in innovation and productivity. Albert Einstein famously said, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”
If you agree with this notion, you’d probably also agree that hiring people who think differently is a way to solve modern problems. Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, would agree. He has said,
“The world needs a neurodiverse workforce to help try and solve some of the big problems of our time.”
However, the question stakeholders want to know the answer to persists: “What financial advantages will neurodiverse candidates bring to the organization?” So, is it worth taking on neurodiverse employees?
The financial benefits of investing in neurodiversity
Neurodivergent thinking prompts innovation, thinking differently leads to formulating solutions in more creative ways. Neurodivergent employees are known to have excellent creative thinking skills and often, above-average intelligence. They solve problems with strong reasoning and often see a variety of unique solutions that neurotypical people might fail to find.
According to Michael Porter, innovation is the central issue in economic prosperity. Although innovation drives economic change, the trajectory of its growth is defined through diversity. It is actually a straight line— diversity drives innovation, and innovation drives profitability. But why?
Here’s why: the divergent thought process is igniting the spark of innovation. Businesses that prosper have something new to offer. They know how to reach new audiences and innovate in the right way. This undoubtedly offers a competitive advantage.
Neurodiverse individuals tend to be more technologically inclined, analytical, creative, and possess strong skills in mathematics, pattern recognition, and information processing. These skills are a must in data-centric businesses. As more and more businesses are showing an inclination toward Artificial Intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and robotics. With the increasing demand for IT roles and shortfall of skilled talent, this can give employers a new route to reach their recruitment needs. Research from the University of Montreal stated that autistic people are up to 40% better at problem-solving.
According to a study, diverse companies have 19% more revenue due to innovation. This percentage can grow if companies start valuing neurodiverse talent more. Making it clear that investing in neurodiversity can benefit your organization.
Ian Tomlin is Chief Information Officer (CMO) of Simplify Workforce, UK. He says, “We have a number of neurodivergent employees. These include dyslexic and autistic employees. Some are quite low on the autism spectrum, others very high. The day to day challenges individual employees with autism face can vary massively. Without exception, we find they bring a different dynamic to our team. That said, you do need to support neurodiverse employees. We have found it beneficial to coach neurotypical workers on how to work with neurodiverse colleagues–to appreciate what they struggle with and how to accommodate them into the workforce in a way that works for everyone.”
The four largest autism hiring programs (SAP, JPMorgan Chase, EY, and Microsoft) all have a more than 90% higher than average retention rate in their industry.
We tend to not view Human Resources as an income-generating department, as they are mainly seen as overhead expenses. However, we know that HR plays a vital role in employee engagement, talent retention, and hiring more diverse and innovative candidates. This all results in increased profitability and efficiency within the business.
Neurodiversity in the External Workforce
What neurodiverse workers look for is flexibility, support, and perhaps some adjustments during their employment journey. It is worth understanding that a small adjustment can have a huge impact on a company’s ability to prosper. As HR is one of the key strategic decision-makers when it comes to recruitment, this makes their role even more important.
It is crucial that HR managers champion neurodiverse hiring when recruiting external candidates alongside internal ones. This could be done by ensuring they are evenly and fairly treated throughout. But, it could also require the adoption of a neurodiverse platform. HR could help them by not just making the environment reasonably adjusted, but welcoming their differences.
Many VMS technology providers have recently created neurodiverse platforms that allow companies to access and hire previously untapped talent. This should become a crucial part of any business’s recruitment plans. This is the perfect opportunity for employers to reshape their workforce to include both external and neurodiverse talent.
Final Thoughts: Why you should invest in neurodiversity
Workers who think outside the box are a real asset for any company. The neurodiverse workforce makes sense for any organization, as it brings forth efficiencies, productivity, and innovation—it fills vacancies that today stand open for repetitive jobs, for tech and analytical skills. Surely, then, it’s time for employers to start accommodating and acknowledging neurodiverse talents. A simple tip–If you do want to introduce neurodiverse candidates, it helps to outwardly say so on job descriptions!
And remember, the costs associated with embracing neurodivergent candidates are relatively slight. It comes down more to adapting norms of behavior and supporting their emotional needs through counselling and mentoring services. Indeed, employing neurodivergent candidates has many rewards—without any significant onboarding costs. It’s more about how you do things, rather than what you need to do differently.
Leading HR teams should focus on making room for neurodivergent candidates. It involves formulating a talent agenda and considering what provisions need to be made to accommodate people’s unique needs. Installing a neurodivergent talent quotient to your talent agenda can bring home a point. And, considering that 1 in 10 people are neurodivergent, perhaps start at 5% of your workforce and grow from there.
If we’ve learned anything through our research on this topic, it’s this: you have to treat neurodivergent candidates differently. Only then can you unlock the untapped potential of neurodiverse candidates that you are missing out on today, that will help your organization thrive. It’s time to invest in neurodiversity.