Optimize Your Online Business for Neurodiverse Team Success

neurodiverse team

Neurodiverse individuals possess unique abilities that can significantly enhance an organization’s productivity. Research indicates that neurodiverse teams are 30% more productive compared to their counterparts. With an increasing number of people being recognized as neurodiverse, either through formal diagnosis or self-identification, creating systems to support these individuals in your online or small business is crucial for achieving success.

Furthermore, service providers may encounter neurodiverse clients, making it essential to foster a supportive environment for all collaborators. This begins with a comprehensive understanding of neurodiversity, which encompasses conditions such as autism, ADHD, dyslexia, Tourette’s, dyspraxia, synesthesia, dyscalculia, Down syndrome, epilepsy, and chronic mental health issues like bipolar disorder and anxiety.

Understanding Neurodiversity

Neurodiversity represents variations in brain function and behavioral traits that differ from the norm, not deficiencies needing correction. It includes a wide spectrum of characteristics, from attention challenges to non-verbal communication.

Promoting Neurodiversity Through Inclusive Systems

While hiring neurodiverse individuals is a step forward, businesses need to implement broader support mechanisms. Educating oneself about neurodiversity without overburdening neurodiverse individuals with the task of providing education is a good starting point. Engaging with #actuallyautistic and other neurodiverse communities on social media can offer valuable insights.

Inclusive Hiring Practices

Stereotypes often hinder the integration of neurodiverse individuals into the workforce. Not all autistic people are like Rainman. Not all ADHD folks are like your favorite TikToker. Not all people who struggle with anxiety are like your aunt.

Recognizing the diversity within neurodiverse communities is vital. While some companies like JPMorgan Chase and Dell have initiated neurodiversity hiring programs, there is room for improvement in accommodating neurodiverse applicants throughout the hiring process.

Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com on Unsplash

Revamping the Application Process

A more inclusive application process acknowledges unconventional educational and career paths. Job descriptions and application queries should be clear, avoiding assumptions about traditional educational achievements as many neurodiverse folks have taken nontraditional education or career paths. Many have taken a special interest and turned that into a career, so don’t require the candidate to select a four year college from a list. Emphasizing skills and potential contributions over standard interview performances can lead to more equitable hiring outcomes. Allow the submission of alternative and creative forms of resumes.

While some companies note that they have “redesigned” the hiring process, many of them have not. They fail to provide training to the interviewer on how to interview neurodiverse folks. They force the candidate to disclose their diagnosis (and completely ignore the self-diagnosed). Some companies do not provide enough support for the new team member after they are hired.

Stay on top of diversity, equity and belonging (DEB) initiatives. Don’t write off a qualified candidate because they don’t interview perfectly. Evaluate them based on their skills and record and what they could contribute to the company mission and vision.

Onboarding for Inclusivity

Welcoming new hires involves preparing them for their role while accommodating their needs. Providing detailed schedules, avoiding overwhelming paperwork, and skipping forced socialization can make the onboarding process more comfortable for neurodiverse employees. Offering materials in various formats and ensuring clear documentation of responsibilities are also critical steps. ClickUp is a great place to house all onboarding and training materials as well as the onboarding schedule.

Take care of any accommodation paperwork and other HR paperwork in spurts – don’t do it all at once. It’s too much and many neurodiverse people find this very stressful.

Design an orientation session without forced participation in ice breakers or small talk. This can be a challenge for many neurodiverse people. Instead, plan simple activities in smaller groups.

Offer any onboarding materials in a variety of content types: short videos, to the point text, and graphics. Keep the materials easy to understand for people with dyslexia or processing challenges. Make sure any responsibilities or procedures are clearly documented and kept in an easy to find location.

Encourage team members to book informal 1:1 “get to know you” meetings with each other to connect in a casual, safe environment. This also gives provides an opportunity to learn each other’s soft skills.

Building a Neurodiversity-Friendly Workplace Culture

A workplace culture that genuinely values neurodiversity goes beyond hiring practices. It involves reevaluating existing norms, facilitating open discussions, and promoting personal growth through education on neurodiversity. Understanding the nuances of neurodiversity, including the concept of masking and its impact, is essential.

Create a company culture which values neurodiversity by hiring, promoting, and valuing your neurodiverse team members. Commit to reexamining outdated practices. Make it easy for all employees to have difficult conversations. Encourage personal growth by hosting regular workshops on tough topics, preferably led by #actuallyneurodiverse folks. Familiarize yourself with autistic traits and especially how they can present differently in women. Learn about masking and the trauma it can cause. And always approach people from a place of kindness and support.

Understand that many neurodiverse folks are not comfortable disclosing their neurodivergence. And that’s fine. But create an environment of support for all.

Photo by LinkedIn Sales Solutions on Unsplash

Enhancing HR Policies

Adapting HR policies to acknowledge invisible disabilities and self-diagnosed conditions can make the workplace more inclusive. Flexible work arrangements, comprehensive health benefits, and a supportive environment which includes work from home options that respects individual differences are key components of a neurodiversity-friendly workplace.

Conclusion

By embracing neurodiversity and implementing supportive systems, online businesses can unlock the potential of their neurodiverse team members. Moving beyond stereotypes and creating an inclusive environment benefits not only individuals with neurodiversity but also enhances the overall productivity and innovation within an organization.

For assistance in creating a structured approach to welcome neurodiverse teams into your business, reach out to get started on building a more inclusive future.

Need help creating a systemized business to welcome a neurodiverse team?

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