Tap Into a New Segment of the Labor Market
Why to hire Neurodivergent people:
- Neurodivergent people tend to bring strengths in areas such as:
- A logical, data-driven approach
- Recognition of patterns and details others may miss
- High tolerance for repetitive tasks
- Seeing the big picture
- Connecting ideas
- Thinking outside the box
- Diversifying your workplace benefits the business, employees, and community as a whole.
- Investing in a diverse workforce enables the business to grow and adapt to inevitable changes, and builds a foundation that has the flexibility to utilize all abilities and strengths.
Don’t let paradigms and biases prevent you from hiring and developing incredible talent.
Ways to make your workplace more accommodating for people who are neurodivergent
- Reach out to local organizations such as YVAP for accommodation and neurodivergent training and development to enhance your awareness and understanding of how to support employees who are neurodivergent.
- Assess your hiring processes and systems for recruitment, onboarding, training, performance management, promotion, and staff retention to ensure they are accessible and inclusive.
- Be aware of best practices for inclusive interviewing.
- Does your business have an employee assistance program that identified employees who may need accommodations can reach out to and learn about benefits that may support them? Is this information accessible and available to all employees?
- The Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion (EARN) educates public- and private-sector organizations on building inclusive workplace cultures, and empowers them to become leaders in the employment and advancement of people with disabilities.
- The Job Accommodation Network (JAN) (Online, Nationwide, USA) is the leading source of free, expert, and confidential guidance on workplace accommodations and disability employment issues. Working toward practical solutions that benefit both employer and employee, JAN helps people with disabilities enhance their employability and shows employers how to capitalize on the value and talent that people with disabilities add to the workplace. JAN’s trusted consultants offer one-on-one guidance on workplace accommodations, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and related legislation, and self-employment and entrepreneurship options for people with disabilities. Assistance is available both over the phone and online.
Are you aware of your employer responsibilities?
Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 prohibits private employers, state and local governments, employment agencies, and labor unions from discriminating against qualified individuals with disabilities in job application procedures, hiring, firing, advancement, compensation, job training, and other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment.
Accommodations are NOT a reflection of the candidate’s skills and talents. An accommodation is an adjustment to a job or work environment that makes it possible for an individual with a disability to perform their job duties. Modifications may include adjustments to the physical work environment or to the way a job is usually performed. Accommodations are changes that enable an employee with a disability to enjoy equal benefits and privileges of employment like those that are enjoyed by other employees without disabilities while performing the essential functions of a role and delivering results.
- Relax and make the applicant feel relaxed. If the applicant has a visible disability or reveals a disability during the interview, concentrate on the job qualifications, not the disability.
- Treat the individual with the same respect you would afford any other candidate.
- Hold individuals with disabilities to the same standards as all applicants.
- Ask only job-related questions relevant to the job functions for which the applicant is applying.
- Concentrate on the applicant’s technical and professional knowledge, skills, abilities, experiences, and interests.
- Do not try to imagine how you would perform a specific job if you had the applicant’s disability. They have mastered alternate ways of living and working. If the applicant has a known disability, either because it is obvious or was revealed, you may ask them to describe how they would perform the job.
- Do not conduct an employment test unless all employees in the same job category are required to take one.
- DO NOT request a medical examination prior to making a job offer (these are prohibited under the ADA). If, however, all employees entering similar jobs are also required to have a medical examination as a condition of hire, it is allowable to require individuals with disabilities to have an exam. If, after the medical examination, the employer decides not to hire an individual because of a disability, the employer must demonstrate that this decision is related to the job functions and is consistent with business necessity.
Steps to take to prepare your staff to work with people who are neurodivergent
- Understand what is Neurodiversity.
- If you are working with an individual who has disclosed they are neurodivergent ask them how to support them best. Build open communication and understand that they may request a different support system than you are used to, which is okay.
- Offer training to your staff and managers on neurodiversity and how to support and engage with employees who are neurodivergent.
Basic guidelines for working with Neurodiverse employees
- Speak clearly and allow time for your employee to process what you have said.
- Some employees use different forms of communication, e.g., visual supports.
- Don’t be offended if the employee doesn’t look at you, smile, or make typical “small talk.”
- Give clear explanations, deadlines, and parameters. Have checklists, visual examples, and give descriptions of the social expectations of your workplace.
- Check for understanding. Ask the employee to tell you what they understand about the communication or instruction.
- Be aware of sensory sensitivities.
Resources with information around neurodiversity and employment
What is Neurodiversity?
What is a Spiky Profile?
Written By: Beth Davison | Vocational Rehabilitation Consultant, Amazon Disability and Leave Services
Beth is a board member of Yampa Valley Autism.