The benefits of neurodivergent team members

A workplace culture with people from diverse backgrounds, including age, gender, socio-economic and culture has long been acknowledged to strengthen an organisation, as its often our differences that allow teams to thrive.

Despite this openness for diversity, a group of team members who are often overlooked and under acknowledged are neurodiverse team members. These include people with ADHD, dyslexia, and autism. As we'll see below, team members who understand and embrace neurodiverse talent within their culture will see clear benefits – to their people, teams and business outcomes.

How can neurodiversity benefit your organisation?

  • It's a job seeker's market at the moment and finding the right talent can be difficult. Being open to neurodiverse people will enlarge your pool of potential team members.
  • Neurodiverse team members can help to fill some missing skills sets within your organisation. For example, autism can make a person predisposed to being able to focus and concentrate, retain factual and technical knowledge, and allow them to carry out repetitive tasks to a high standard of accuracy.
  • Other brain conditions like dyslexia often result in skills that most organisations look for, including taking the initiative, and displaying leadership and creativity.
  • In today's fast-paced world where things are constantly evolving, having people that don't think in a traditional way can be the catalyst to discovering more efficient processes or developing new products.

How can neurodiversity benefit your organisation?

  • Start by improving the organisations understanding and awareness of the subject, talk to your neurodiverse team members. The first step is work with your current people, as you're more than likely to already have neurodiverse team members within your organisation.
  • Be aware of the differing needs of your people. Offer neurodivergent team members the support they need, while supporting the rest of the team to understand what neurodiversity brings to the organisation.
  • Review your recruitment process. Often a perceived lack of social skills or inability to look you in the eye during an interview can mask the true experience of a potential team member, so look beyond these traits and focus on the technical skills required.
  • Acknowledge neurodiverse team members as valued and an integral part of your organisation.

As with all forms of diversity, embracing a range of people within an organisation creates a culture of success.

It is my lack of a deeper understanding of this subject that prompted me to encourage others to do as I am doing – find out more – have an open mind.

Remember saying someone is from the Pacific or Europe or Asia is correct however falls a long way short of trying to understand the specifics of a person from Apia or Kraków or Da Nang.

I offer up the subject of Neurodiversity in the same way. Additional support greater understanding will bring benefits for your people and the business.

My thanks to one of my own neurodiverse team members who assisted in the writing of this article.

Author: Peter Robinson
Team Leadership Services