Neurodiversity in the Workplace – How to Support Neurodivergent Employees

5 minutes

Neurodiversity may not be a topic that many in the workplace are inherently familiar with or have extensive knowledge of; yet the need to acknowledge, raise awareness and understand the vast subject at a broader level is increasingly vital in the world of work, as diagnosis’ hit a record high. 

Having a level of understanding around neurodiversity and what can be done to raise awareness in the workplace, allows businesses leaders to support neurodivergent employees as well as educate and support managers with the best approaches to enable them to support neurodivergent team members.

So, what is Neurodiversity?

Neurodiversity is the natural variation in human brain functioning, it refers to the infinite range of differences in individual human brain function and behavioural traits – CIPD.

Below, we highlight five more well-known examples of neurodiversity with a brief overview of what some individuals may experience with the condition. This list is by no means exhaustive, but it gives a small insight into some of the more stereotypical ways these variations can present.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

More commonly known as ADHD, some individuals with ADHD can struggle with hyperactivity, impulsivity and the ability to focus. ADHD can be associated with high levels of energy and enthusiasm, creative and heighted emotions, although there are many ways in which ADHD can present in different people, particularly women.


Autism Spectrum Disorder can present challenges in social interaction and communication for individuals, at varied severities. Some may experience repetitive behaviours and control of these behaviours. Individuals who are diagnosed with autism can experience challenge but they can also display exceptional creativity, focus and an incredible eye for detail.

Learning differences

Those who struggle with learning differences have to approach tasks slightly differently to enable them to process information, however this does not limit an individual’s ability to succeed and achieve, with the right support in place they can excel. Conditions include dyslexia, dyspraxia and dyscalculia.

Sensory processing disorders

Individuals who experience sensory disorders can be either over sensitive or under sensitive to things that affect the senses, such as touch, sound or light.

Tourette Syndrome

If an individual has Tourette syndrome, it can often be characterised by involuntary movements or sounds and can in some cases be highly disruptive to day-to-day life and social interactions and can become exhausting for those with the condition.

While each employee in a business will struggle become an expert on all areas of neurodiversity and the five types listed above just scratch the surface, having increased awareness of what neurodiversity means and how it affects people in different ways will allow for more empathy and understanding, resulting in a positive impact on employee relations and engagement across the business.

How can businesses support employees?

In order to create a workplace that supports neurodiversity, businesses need to educate and raise awareness across the organisation, ensure they adopt inclusive processes and provide reasonable adjustments where necessary.

Everyone within a business is accountable for creating a neuroinclusive workplace, however this needs to be led from the top and have all leadership and managers driving this inclusion and understanding.

Offer training and increase understanding of neurodiversity in the workplace

One of the biggest challenges organisations face when it comes to neurodiversity is lack of awareness and understanding, therefore it’s essential for businesses to provide training and resources to employees across all levels of the business.

There are various formats of training that a business can facilitate including in-person workshops, access to online training or resources and hearing from those who have direct or indirect experience of a form of neurodiversity. Hearing experiences and insights from someone inside of an organisation where they can demonstrate the workplace through their eyes as a neurodiverse employee can be hugely impactful, however only if they feel comfortable enough to do so.

In order to receive accurate training resources, it’s likely a business will need to outsource a neurodiversity expert to deliver education sessions to ensure employees receive credible information from qualified professionals.

“Neurodiversity is a topic which I’ve been working on as part of CSG Talent’s D&I committee over the last quarter and will continue to implement moving forwards. I believe there needs to be a hybrid approach to tackling topics like this, which draws to an extent from employee experience (being mindful of the impacts of neurodiversity and how it may affect someone’s ability or confidence to relay this experience) but also recognise when to turn to external training or coaching from someone with the relevant credentials. The training needs to go beyond raising awareness but extend to management specific training, as well as delving into processes and policy to enhance the experience for current and future employees.”

Create an inclusive environment with reasonable adjustments

An inclusive work environment which is neuroinclusive considers the workplace environment, flexibility, hybrid working models, communication styles and reasonable adjustments.

Offering flexible work arrangements including flexibility with working hours and patterns and the physical environment that employees work within, whether that’s remotely, in the office or hybrid models will help support both neurodivergent and neurotypical employees. Consider any potential sensory modifications that may need to be adjusted to support employees with quiet spaces in the office to work, or providing equipment or tools to support this such as noise cancelling headphones, screen displays or sensory keyboard and equipment.

Review business processes and hiring strategy

It’s important for businesses to review processes and overall strategies on an ongoing basis to ensure they are continually improving inclusion and neurodiversity in all aspects of the existing employee experience, and that of potential hires.

Ensure hiring processes are considerate to neurodiversity by reviewing job roles, advertisements and all steps of the hiring process including interviews and communications. This will not only provide potential hires with a positive experience throughout the process, it will also ensure a fair and unbiased process.

How can you celebrate neurodiversity within your business?

Celebrate successes and strengths neurodivergent employees (where they feel comfortable to do so) to recognise their contributions to their role and the business. Another great method is mentor initiatives in a business, this is a great two-way process where neurodiverse employees can teach and support neurotypical employees with increased awareness and understanding, and other colleagues can share their own experiences too.

If a business does decide to implement something like this, it is essential that this is supported by other training and initiatives to avoid becoming reliant upon neurodivergent employees to drive the topic for the whole business. In some cases, it can lead to an increased workload which can further exacerbate some of the psychological, physical and behavioural symptoms that people who are neurodivergent may experience.

Simon Gillibrand is a Senior Director at CSG Talent, he shared his insights following a recent diagnosis of ADHD himself, on what he feels businesses can do to further support employees with neurodiverse conditions; “Speaking from my personal experience, I found out I have ADHD around a year ago and in that time been unpicking the impacts it has had on myself and my career. Although the awareness is rising in companies there is still a long way to go. Day to day activities and communications need to be looked at - asking people to sit in long meetings or long-winded communications can often be a struggle for many. Personally, I have found organisation and focus hard and only recently (after over 20 years in employment) realise this has largely been a result of having ADHD, and have started to have discussions within work around what assistance and help can be done to assist and remove the stress around some of these areas, and to enable me to be more effective day to day.

One big thing companies can do is actually look to work and utilize individuals with neurodiverse strengths. There often seems to be a focus on adjustments and areas people struggle, but if we flip this and assess the areas people excel with neurodiverse conditions it can be a great way to create a more inclusive, motivational and high performing work environment.”

There is still a lot for businesses and individuals to learn around neurodiversity and it will take time to build knowledge and raise awareness in the workplace. Ultimately, increased awareness and understanding will lead to greater considerations of neurodiversity and more effective communications and support networks within the workplace.

At CSG Talent we are continually striving to create an inclusive environment for colleagues across the business, to find out more about how we are doing this - check out our D&I page.