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Showcasing the ND Workplace

Thursday 17 January 2019

We in the world of dyslexia have long advocated a neuro diverse workplace, seeing the cultural, creative and financial benefits it brings. Today, we have launched Showcasing the ND Workplace which breaks down the benefits of neurodiversity in the workplace and quantifies them.

Reasonable adjustments in the workplace are more than just a legal requirement, they are an investment. Access to Work put the cost of providing reasonable adjustments at a maximum £3,121 and in many cases the adjustments are free or just require management and administrative costs.

However, the quantifiable returns are, at least, £20,000. They include increased productivity of normally up to 15%, increased standards of service to customers leading to increased sales, and as many staff who aren’t given reasonable adjustments leave through one route or another, reduction in turnover and reduced recruitment costs.

The report, which is launched alongside the 8th edition of our Employers Code of Practice, gives practical steps employers can take to maximise the returns on a neuro diverse workplace and case studies of organisations that are leading the way.

Neurodiversity needs to be considered as early as the recruitment stage. This can be as simple as making sure the job specifications don’t include requirements that unnecessarily discriminate against someone with neuro difference. Or you could go as far as asking for videos instead of the traditional covering letter, like Extraordinary Individuals, a recruitment agency who specialise in candidates with neuro differences, have trialled with great success.

A culture needs to support neurodiversity not just through policies and structures but also the leadership behaviours, the heroes and heroines it champions, and its ethos. If employees, with a neuro difference, feel they are able to disclose then everything else can follow but the culture needs to be right first to allow that to happen.

Next is ensuring the infrastructure is there for a neuro diverse workplace. A great example of this was when Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust installed text read software on their servers so everyone, whether they have a neuro difference or not, could assess it without having to seek special permission.

Just like at school and in higher education, at work, employers are required to make reasonable adjustments for training – like providing extra time in professional exams. Employers fostering a neuro diverse workplace are proactive in making these accommodations. We have worked with The Institute of Mechanical Engineering, for example, to raise awareness of the support available to members going through the chartership process and ensuring they get the right package.

Without the right support, all too often great neuro diverse employees can end up in a grievance or disciplinary procedure. In an organisation where an employee has felt uncomfortable about disclosing their neuro difference, this can often be the point at which they tell their employer. Although, all too often the relationship is irreparable, it isn’t always. So, if an employee discloses during a disciplinary or grievance procedure, make reasonable adjustments through the process – particularly avoid the common pitfall of laying out the issues in just a long and complex letter – and demonstrate you want them to be part of a neuro diverse workplace going forward.

We hope that Showcasing the ND Workplace and the latest edition of our Employers Code of Practice will give you a starting point to build a neuro diverse workplace. We offer a range of other support such as our Quality Mark and the new Dyslexia Aware SMART Award along with tailored support for individual organisations.