The Impact of Neurodiversity on Business and Leadership

While we continue emphasizing the importance of DEIB (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging) within a workplace environment, a larger group of individuals are usually missed out on such discussions. They are classified as ‘neurodivergent’ people. They remained silent for a longer period of time. It is because when most people come across a particular label, they regard it as the same as some type of disability.

A typical workplace features different types of employees from diverse backgrounds -specifying a wide spectrum of unique characteristics and unmatched life experiences. All workers expect to feel respected, comfortable, valued and included at the respective workplace. A recent study report revealed that organizations having inclusive work cultures were significantly more likely to be agile and innovative. One employee characteristic that is easily overlooked by most employers out there is neurodiversity. Let us understand its importance in any work culture and the entire business.

What is Neurodiversity in a Workplace?

As per a research report, neurodiversity can be explained as the notion that people tend to experience and interact with their respective environment in diverse ways. As such, there is no one right way of learning, behaving, and thinking. Moreover, differences are not regarded as deficits.

Conditions like dyslexia, ADHD, autism, and dyspraxia tend to fall on the spectrum of neurodiversity. It is estimated that around 15 to 20 percent of the world’s population tends to be neurodivergent. Therefore, it is high time that HR managers and employers of organizations should possess the power to champion as well as celebrate the wide range of talents and benefits brought forth by a neurodivergent workforce. In the modern world dominated by increasing technological advancements and rapid automation, the overall benefits that are available with the presence of a neurodivergent, inclusive workforce can never be greater.

Understanding the Importance of Neurodiversity in a Modern Workplace

DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) policies are not only concerned with individuals of different races, cultures, ethnicities, genders, physical disabilities, and age groups. In these policies, modern organizations also include the notion of neurodiversity.

Neurodiversity is commonly defined as variations in the functioning of the human brain. It also refers to differences in specific preferences and behavioral traits -right from sociability to learning, mood, attention, and overall mental health condition. However, in comparison to philosophical and religious preferences, neurodiversity tends to be a less-discussed topic -making the diagnosis and identification of the issue quite challenging.

The overall lack of awareness about the source of diversity often leads to the respective colleagues, leaders, HR professionals, and other employers not understanding the unique abilities and requirements of the given population with talents. Therefore, most leaders and HR executives tend to miss out on leveraging new ways to advance the organization.

Role of Neurodiverse Workers in the Corporate World

Do you know about any neurodivergent colleagues at your workplace? There is a possibility that some colleagues at your workplace might be divergent. However, they might not be comfortable speaking openly about their condition.

For business leaders, opening up new channels of communication can be a great way to start. In this manner, anyone who is willing can come up and converse in a safe, secure space. Managers and leaders of organizations should undertake proactive steps toward enhancing the respective approach to ensuring talent management. Some of the core steps can be −

  • Valuing and understanding the needs, strengths, contributions, and challenges of every employee

  • Ensuring clarity of responsibilities and roles for driving employee motivation and business outcomes

  • Delivering and receiving relevant feedback about what is working fine and what can be improved

  • Being accountable for retaining a neurodiverse talent management approach for the respective teams

  • Co-designing a dedicated career development plan for supporting individual differences

When your organization features leaders and HR managers prioritizing neurodiverse opportunities and talents, it will allow more employees to perform at the best-ever potential. One of the most interesting aspects of a neurodivergent workforce is that such employees are well-suited for handling the business challenges of the modern era. They will mostly perceive solutions to complicated issues that other neurotypical employees might not consider.

Neurodivergent employees feature unique capabilities for ensuring innovation. Moreover, they are gifted in core skills that are crucial in the modern complex environment. Some of the common instances you should consider are −

  • People having autism are believed to be immensely creative with excellent logic, concentration, visual thought, and imagination. They are also meticulous, systematic, and supremely detailed. They adore sharing insights as well as perspectives in the modern domain of problem-solving.

  • People having dyslexia depict amazing abilities to think out of the box. They are stronger than an average individual with respect to reasoning -particularly when it comes to understanding specific patterns, making wise decisions, and evaluating possibilities. It is commonly believed that people with dyslexia deliver invaluable competence as far as viewing different aspects from a wider perspective is concerned.

  • People having ADHD feature excellent imaginations. They mostly score impressively on creativity tests. They also possess the rare ability to hyper-focus within specific environments -like playing a video game.

You can imagine some situations like hackathons, business transformations, task forces, leadership summits, and strategic reviews serving as beneficial to those having unique skills and diverse perspectives -the neurodivergent population.

Organizations around the world can ponder over neurodiversity as a method of hacking the toughest available challenges. Companies can go ahead with creating smaller groups of creative and innovative thinkers to bring about fresh perspectives.

Role of Business Leaders to Embrace the Neurodiverse Workforce

For several years, organizations around the world have invested in different programs that have been designed to support as well as unravel the hidden talent of the respective employees. While most of the programs have been created by keeping neurotypical individuals in mind, some organizations have also observed the overall value of neurodivergence.

Leaders and HR managers should aim at creating a safer place for people to think about raising their voices and sharing exceptional abilities.

Updated on: 27-Apr-2023


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