Attracting and Retaining Neurodiverse Talent
Let’s get a little deeper into neurodiverse talent. Neurodiversity refers to the infinite range of human behavioral traits and brain function. These workers are highly skilled and provide unique benefits when it comes to diversity in the workplace. And you can find them in the same places you look for other candidates. You only need an altered approach in your recruiting and hiring process.
As our world continues to be data-driven, the value that differently-abled talent brings to the bottom line can be a game-changer for businesses. Neurodiverse teams are 30% more productive than their counterparts. Now, it is time to ask yourself if you are doing everything you can to focus on and include neurodiverse talent within your organization.
Whether the answer is yes or no, the solution for diversity in the workplace isn’t complicated. It can be achieved from things like shifting the words you use to making small, candidate-focused tweaks in the recruiting processes and anything in between. Making these kinds of changes can easily benefit your company with the wins of neurodiversity in the workplace. But how do you begin? The answer is to start small.
How to begin
Small changes in your expectations and the way you talk will make a big impact. Start with the number one idea: there is no standard brain. Once you understand this concept, it is easier to steer yourself away from negative language when discussing neurodiversity. And, becoming open to different expectations. One example to help understand the impact language has is to avoid the double use of negative words. For example, the words deficit and disorder when talking about ADHD.
The language you use makes a huge difference in the way companies recruit and hire. Altering language preferences may seem like small actions to take. Yet, they can lead to removing bias that you may or may not have even noticed.
The small changes aren’t the only things you need to do to attract and retain the best neurodiverse talent. Here are five steps to promoting neurodiversity in the workplace:
Determine the best roles for neurodiverse talent
Neurodiverse talent can and will have some impressive skills. However, they might only feel comfortable in specific kinds of roles. It is your job to help determine in which roles they will feel confident and thrive. Consider a few ideas when assisting this talent pool navigate the best job fit. Such as which areas of your company could benefit from the added skills. Or what the neurodivergent candidate would be best suited for. From attention to detail or problem-solving capabilities.
You can also consider whether you have the perfect role or need to tailor a role specifically for them to account for their needs and skill set. Make sure to check in with the team to make sure everyone is on the same page and understands why neurodiverse candidates can help the company thrive. It is essential to have the right person for the job, but it is just as crucial to be sure you have the right job.
Reevaluate your job descriptions and ads
Easy enough, right? Realistically, we’ve all spent hours fluffing up job descriptions and requirements to make sure they attract the perfect candidate with all of the necessary skill sets. But, what if those descriptions are actually eliminating a whole group of talented people, just from the verbiage? The best job descriptions get applicants excited about the role, values, and expectations of the company and include information about your diverse company culture.
Editing job descriptions can go a long way to adding this untapped talent pool into potential candidates. Try eliminating all the fluff and jargon, yet refrain from using generic job descriptions with a never-ending wishlist of skills and experiences. Also, don’t be afraid to state neurodiverse talent is accepted and welcome in the job posting. It can only help, not hurt, your candidate pipeline.
Create your neurodiverse employer brand
Highlighting neurodiversity in your workplace is easier than you think. It can be as simple as sharing a story on your Facebook or interviewing an employee with autism for your company website. If there are already programs aimed at inclusiveness for those with unique abilities, adding testimonials or stories featuring these employees can be a great example to show neurodiverse employees you’re open and ready to listen and learn from them.
Sometimes the best move, not just for your employer brand, is to commit to learning about your target audience, whether it be neurodiverse talent or Gen X.
Adjust your recruitment and hiring process
It can be easy to assume that the neurodiverse talent pool can follow the same recruiting and hiring process customary for neurotypical people, but this is further from the truth. Just like you wouldn’t expect someone with a wheelchair to stand up and shake your hand, you should not expect a person with autism to look you in the eye.
However, many small things can make a big difference when recruiting and hiring neurodiverse individuals. For example, try simplifying forms and interview questions to avoid confusion, or using images to illustrate the roles and responsibilities. Also, offering awareness training to team members can help make sure everyone from the front-line to top-level managers is on the same page. All of these actions can help account for recruiting and hiring neurodiverse talent.
Don’t just talk the talk. Walk it
You can talk about diversity initiatives and the goals you have for inclusiveness in the company. Still, until you walk the talk, it will be hard to keep your neurodiverse talent around. Accommodations are key to making sure each neurodiverse employee feels comfortable and can perform their job to the best of their ability.
Some accommodations to consider could be anything from providing headphones to those with ADHD to prevent auditory stimulation or offering desk assessments to adjust screen lighting or the opportunity for extra desk drawers for organizing personal belongings. It never hurts to ask what team members need. A good rule of thumb is to make sure regular one on ones are in place, so every employee feels accommodated.
A happy employee can be the make or break of a company, and those who feel taken care of are more likely to stay with the company long term.
Even though neurodiverse talents are necessary for a company, they usually don’t fit the prospective employers’ profiles. However, this leaves an excellent opportunity for your company to get ahead of the competition when it comes to hiring this highly skilled talent pool.
With a little bit of recruiting and hiring process adjustments, companies could hire smart and could be in for a big productivity win. Neurodiverse talent is key for companies, and the impact of an inclusive workplace is necessary.
Nina Cofer is a product marketing manager at Breezy HR, an applicant tracking system based in Jacksonville, Florida. Nina’s entrepreneurial spirit, creative mind, and artistic talent have given her more than a decade of experience working in marketing, pay-per-click advertising, web and graphic design, and search engine optimization. About Breezy HR: Breezy HR is a recruiting platform and applicant tracking system that believes hiring doesn't have to be messy. Based in Jacksonville, FL and with customers around the world, Breezy has thrown out the traditional hiring model and replaced it with a set of tools that engage hiring teams, manage day-to-day chaos and ensures teams continue to attract and hire great employees with less effort. To learn more, visit breezy.hr.
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