Many neurodiverse people have above-average abilities, and some are even extraordinarily gifted. For example, many believe that Albert Einstein had autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
Unfortunately, there are still neurodiverse individuals who get rejected by recruiters because they seem “different.” As a result, employed neurodiverse individuals try to hide their condition because of the stigma attached to it.
Fortunately, this is changing as employers recognize the value neurodiverse individuals can bring to an organization. A growing number of companies are revising their HR policies to include neurodiversity.
Here’s how neurodiversity can benefit public sector organizations and how HR leaders can champion neurodiversity in the workplace.
Neurodiversity describes differences in the way people’s brains learn, think, absorb and process information. Studies show that 15-20% of the U.S. population are neurodivergent.
Neurodiverse conditions include:
In the past, neurodivergent people were often viewed as strange or eccentric. Today, we understand that there are a range of natural variations in brain functions that lead to different behavioral traits. Some being neurotypical and others neurodivergent.
Because neurodiverse people are “wired” differently, they may bring new talent, perspectives and innovative ideas to an organization.
Organizations that embrace neurodiversity can benefit from employees who:
According to the 2023 Disability Equality Index (DEI) report, 93% of DEI participants said they encourage employees to self-disclose their disabilities. However, only 4.6% out of the estimated 25% of employees with disabilities do.
Many neurodiverse employees avoid disclosing their condition because they are afraid of discrimination from their co-workers.
This hesitancy may stem from the following reasons:
HR leaders play a pivotal role in fostering inclusion in the workplace and creating a supportive environment for neurodiverse employees.
Here’s how public sector HR professionals can encourage employees to disclose their condition:
Organizations that invest in DEI programs attract a broader pool of talent and have stronger performance levels and a higher employee retention rate.
Including neurodiverse talent can bring additional strengths to your organization. For example, many dyslexic people have excellent puzzle-solving skills and an imaginative mind. This makes them great out-of-the-box thinkers and problem-solvers.
To attract talented neurodiverse employees, you may need to adjust your recruitment and HR policies as follows:
Recruitment processes are often designed for neurotypical candidates. They do not take into consideration the challenges that a neurodiverse candidate may face, such as weak communication skills or social anxiety. This can create a poor impression with interviewers and eliminate them from the pool of candidates.
Some neurodiverse people struggle to work in open-plan offices or find it hard to concentrate for long periods. You may need to provide certain workplace accommodations to support their condition.
These may include:
Past approaches to employing people with disabilities have mainly focused on helping them access jobs rather than assisting them to build a career.
Don't exclude neurodivergent employees from opportunities in the organization. Discuss their career aspirations and ways the organization can support their growth. With the right support, your neurodivergent employees could turn out to be future rising stars in the organization.
Neurodivergent employees are often misunderstood. To avoid dealing with the negative stigmas surrounding their condition, some prefer to hide it from their employer. HR leaders play a vital role in creating a workplace environment that embraces neurodiversity and encourages self-disclosure. To champion inclusion in the workplace, broaden your HR policies to better support neurodiversity in the workplace.
CPS HR Consulting is a self-supporting public agency providing a full range of integrated HR solutions to government and nonprofit clients across the country. Our strategic approach to increasing the effectiveness of human resources results in improved organizational performance for our clients. We have a deep expertise and unmatched perspective in guiding our clients in the areas of organizational strategy, recruitment and selection, classification and compensation, and training and development.