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Helping your global neurodivergent employees at work

Raising awareness of how neurodiversity impacts global businesses.

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Neurodiversity is becoming increasingly recognised in the workplace. Around 15-20% of people are neurodivergent in some way, so it’s essential that businesses understand and cater for affected staff.

This is more achievable if you have a small workforce, or all your employees are in the same place. But how do you support neurodivergent staff if they’re scattered around the country, or even the world?

This Neurodiversity Celebration Week, we’re exploring how businesses can support neurodivergent staff across a global workforce.

What is neurodiversity?

Neurodiversity describes a range of differences in brain function and behaviour that impact how people experience the world. It’s often used to describe those with autistic spectrum disorders, such as Asperger’s Syndrome, but can also include:

  • ADHD
  • Dyslexia
  • Dyscalculia
  • Dyspraxia
  • Tourette’s syndrome.

Each of these conditions has specific characteristics. But just as no two neurotypical people are the same, nor are two neurodivergent people. So it’s important that your policies are flexible enough to support everyone.

How neurodiversity benefits businesses

Neurodivergent people have unique perspectives and talents which can be extremely valuable to businesses. In the case of those on the autism spectrum, these traits include:

  • High levels of focus
  • Strong attention to detail
  • Creative visual thinking
  • Good problem solving skills
  • Honesty and direct communication
  • Ability to challenge conventional thinking.

These assets can work in your business’s favour. Strong focus and attention to detail means work gets done quickly and to a high standard. Challenging conventional thinking leads to innovation and creativity.

JPMorgan Chase: a global neurodiversity workforce case study

JPMorgan Chase runs a programme called Autism at Work. As of 2020, they employed 175 neurodivergent people in 40 different roles across 8 countries.

James Mahoney, Executive Director and head of the Autism at Work programme, reported:

“After a period of six months, the autistic peers were equal in quality to their typical peers, who had 5, 10, 15 years of experience. But the autistic individuals were 48% more productive.”

As well as offering training and mentorship to their neurodivergent staff, the business also coaches neurotypical employees to help them better understand autism and other conditions. This is essential for fostering an inclusive, welcoming, diverse culture.

Wesley Gibbs, a member of the Autism at Work programme, said:

“I’m overcoming my fear of interacting with people. I can always lean to my mentors…Really to be able to network and to connect with managers here at J.P.Morgan Chase and be able to have those conversations with them to try to determine what you want to do with your career.”

How to support neurodivergent employees

Introducing these policies and actions can help you encourage, support, and hire neurodivergent staff in a global workforce.

Interview-free hiring

Many neurodivergent people find social interactions more difficult than neurotypical people. So interviews can be stressful, and may not display all the value a candidate can bring to your business.

Instead, set tests and tasks that prove their ability to do the job, or offer longer-term paid work trials so you can find out if they’re a good fit for your business (and vice versa).

Mentorship schemes

Mentoring is invaluable for helping neurodivergent people settle in at your organisation. Mentors can help them navigate any difficult situations they encounter, from social situations to sensory sensitivities.

Remote working

Many neurodivergent people find it easier to work in a quiet environment where little social interaction is needed. If you have a global workforce, allowing staff to work remotely full-time or part-time can help those with autism feel more at ease.

Offer an online option

Meetings and events don’t have to be fully remote or fully in-person. If you’re planning an in-person meet-up or event for your global workforce to get together, offering a virtual option enables people with sensory or physical limitations to engage and feel included.

Supporting your global workforce

Just 21.7% of autistic people are in employment. But it’s clear that neurodivergent employees bring significant benefits to businesses. So this Neurodiversity Celebration Week, consider adjusting your employment practices to encourage greater neurodiversity in your organisation.

Mauve are global employment experts. Wherever you operate, we help businesses manage everything from payroll to compliance. Find out how our Employer of Record can help you build and support a diverse global workforce.