Did you know that 45% of people with autism leave their jobs as a result of a poor talent management approach? Source

Neurodivergent individuals with the most in-demand skill-sets are being neglected because of old management practices formed around neurotypical people. With the subject of neurodiversity becoming more recognized by D&I initiatives, organizations need to evolve their talent management approach to serve a more diverse workforce, or they risk excluding neurodivergent individuals.

In this article, discover how you can make your company’s talent management approach more neuroinclusive.

How neuroinclusive is YOUR talent management approach?

If you aren’t achieving your neurodiversity quotient, then there’s probably something awry with your talent agenda. And if you don’t have a neurodiversity quotient, what are you playing at? It’s no secret that the quality of talent you hire has a direct impact on the competitiveness of your business.

Companies with a poor talent management agenda stagnate their productivity, profitability, and innovation. They also compromise the competitiveness of the business they serve when skilled, experienced people are lost to the enterprise.

The importance of a neuroinclusive agenda

Neuroinclusive talent management is about recognizing the neurological differences and acknowledging them. It is understood that both neurodiverse and neurotypical workers bring different perspectives and thus are equally important for a business.

If you want a resilient workplace, make it neuroinclusive.
– Kat Crewes

Unfortunately, most employers still overlook the needs of neurodivergent workers. Research done by Pearn Kondola on 400 workers gave insights into a substandard people management system. The research indicates that three in five employees don’t disclose their disability due to poor adjustments and environment. Furthermore, this same research also shows that two in five neurodiverse and disabled workers don’t see reasonable adjustments.

A proper people management system will ensure that more and more people who face any kind of disability will come forward, helping them work more efficiently and increase the company’s performance. 

Unemployment for the neurodiverse workforce remains as high as 30-40%

During the Great Resignation, more than 4.5 million quit their jobs, with one of the reasons being unsatisfactory working culture. Furthermore, unemployment for the neurodiverse workforce remains as high as 30-40%, eight times the rate for the neurotypical workforce. The obvious learning lesson is that an effective talent management approach will help your business stabilize and attract a more rounded and capable workforce.

“It is the responsibility of leaders to ensure that every person can bring the full extent of their difference to work with them every day”, says Rebekha Martin, Senior Vice President of Reward and Inclusion at AstraZeneca.

Neurodiverse candidates want to bring their ‘whole selves’ to work too. Today, companies
are beginning to understand the importance of neurodiversity, but few cater to neurodiverse candidates. Nor do they look after their discerning needs very well. 

There are still questions that need answering: What about the hiring process and how does
that need to change? What about their learning and development? Their growth? What about
providing an inclusive environment? How to fuel their career opportunity?

What a neuroinclusive talent agenda looks like

Tailoring Learning and Development approach

Create an appropriate culture and environment for individuals and organizations to grow and learn.

The challenge of creating an effective Learning and Development program rests with the company, and not with the individual.

According to research done by the Westminster Achieve Ability Commission, the most crucial factor behaving as a stumbling block is awareness. For employers, gaining an understanding of the neurodiversity should be the first step.

L&D teams should work closely with senior management and other professionals to
understand the changing expectations of employees.

Mentoring a neurodiverse workforce 

It’s worth considering designing a workplace needs assessment for neurodiverse workers.
This assessment should recognize challenges faced by neurodiverse workers and identify solutions. This identification of needs can improve working life and can ensure your employees are reaching their full potential.

Mentoring involves listening and helping the mentee to identify and work towards their own goals. Because of the different needs of neurotypical and neurodivergent candidates, they are unlikely to thrive with having the same mentor. It’s vital to have someone who understands the challenges neurodiverse employees face. They must be supported by someone who identifies the challenges and understands ways to mitigate them.

A good mentor can make a tremendous difference for neurodiverse employees, helping to bring out their best selves, which of course is an advantage to the company as well. If you do not have a suitable mentor, it would be beneficial to bring them in from outside the organization.

First and foremost, a good mentor must be able to listen and work as a partner with the individual, identifying their specific needs. Secondly, they must be patient and allow time for neurodiverse workers to process social or sensory information, which will vary from person to person. Finally, frequent meet-ups and engagement will enable to find the right approach of doing certain things, seeing what works for the individual and what doesn’t, and ways to improve it.

Building a safe and inclusive environment for neurodiverse employees

Neurodivergent people do not suffer from a disability, they suffer from difficulties created by a society that fails to accommodate cognitive differences.

It’s important to forge an environment where every team member is treated fairly. By removing barriers that impact their growth, you make individuals feel they can exercise the best of their abilities.

Consider forming a committee or a group for your neurodiverse employees, in which they can discuss issues they face, find solutions, and talk about trends or advancements in the workforce that would benefit neurodiverse individuals. Furthermore, consider holding workshops to educate neurotypical workers on neuroinclusivity.

Final Thoughts

As Steve Jobs once said, “Great things in business are never done by one person. They’re done by a team of people” 

Your team becomes a better team with neurodiverse individuals as part of it. By overlooking them, you risk missing out on the next Sir Richard Branson, Ingvar Kamprad (Founder of IKEA), Elon Musk, or Charles Schwab.

CREATING THE RIGHT CULTURE

Every leader, manager, and leader has a part to play in building a truly neuroinclusive team.
It’s the people that make up a work culture. It’s people who shape their attitudes and
behaviours, not the environment. No office block ever told you how you should work!

When everyone in a company feels they belong, they tend to contribute best of their ability and unreservedly. You will need to coach in the cultural and attitudinal change needed to make neurodiverse inclusivity work.

Senior director of digital business services at SAP, Silvio Bessa, says , “Managing neurodivergent people forces you to get to know the person better, so you know how to manage them… it’s made me a better manager, without a doubt”.

Welcome the differences the neurodiverse workforce can bring, and give them the necessary training, growth, and development opportunities they deserve. 

ADAPTING OPERATIONAL PRACTICES

There are a few small practical systems and process changes you will have to make to
embrace your neurodiverse quotient. Re-visiting and adapting how you hire neurodiverse workers, appraise their needs, and respect their differences during their time at work will create an environment where they can perform their best.

BEING AN AMBASSADOR FOR FAIRNESS, DIVERSITY, AND INCLUSION

A successful neuroinclusive talent management approach comes from appreciating and promoting the potential of neurodiverse employees. You have to be an advocate and ambassador of change. If you want to create a nurturing environment where neurodiverse individuals can achieve their goals, you need to ensure your business provides adequate emotional support and adopts practical measures.

Finally, it’s about improving your existing talent management approach by considering the changing expectations of employees.