Neurodiversity is the range of differences in individual brain function that can include, but is not limited to, autism spectrum disorder, dyslexia, dyspraxia and ADHD. In the workplace, some simple changes can help make job applications and interviews easier for neurodivergent individuals.
HR leaders who learn how to recruit, onboard and find mentors for neurodiverse talent can help their companies tap into this talent pool and increase their organizations' diversity and team camaraderie. The creative thinking, innovation and problem-solving skills that neurodivergent individuals can possess can benefit their employers.
Here's more about how to attract and retain neurodivergent employees.
How to attract neurodivergent candidates
The job application and interview process is often the first hurdle for neurodivergent individuals seeking employment. Traditional hiring practices might not capture the full breadth of their skill set, as these processes are often tailored to neurotypical candidates.
Inclusive hiring begins with neurodiversity-friendly job descriptions. Neurodivergent candidates are more likely to apply if the job description uses concrete language to provide a 360-degree view of the role. The description should avoid jargon and include reasonable, experience-level requirements.
Replacing panel-style job interview formats with one-on-one, time-limited conversations can also help relieve pressure and enable applicants to showcase their skills.
How to retain neurodivergent employees and maintain inclusiveness
Once neurodivergent employees are brought on board, HR leaders must help create an environment that will help them succeed. Some simple accommodations, which vary by person, can benefit neurodivergent employees. These accommodations can include the following:
- Noise-canceling headphones.
- Desks located in quiet areas of the office.
- Closed captions as part of meetings.
- Meeting agendas sent out before meetings.
Companies can also partner with neurodiversity-certified professionals to advise companies on accessible accommodations and help create mentorship opportunities.
Promoting a culture of respect and understanding is equally important. Neurodiversity-focused communities, such as employee resource groups (ERGs) or business resource groups (BRGs), can foster a sense of belonging and promote education for all employees. ERGs and BRGs can host awareness-raising events and fundraisers, among other advocacy, and they can help neurodivergent employees network and can serve as a source of support as neurodivergent employees become acclimated to the organization.
Anthony Pacilio is vice president of neurodiverse solutions at CAI.