How to provide effective neurodiversity training to managers

By Sarah Carter, below, Head of Account Management, Onebright

With one in seven people in the UK being neurodivergent, most organisations will have neurodiverse employees throughout their workforce. Neurodiversity refers to the unique ways that individuals’ brains process information, and neurodiversity in the workplace means that working environments are made up of many unique traits and talents.

Neurodiverse individuals may face multiple challenges at work. For example, a company may employ a talented employee with exceptional attention to detail and pattern recognition skills yet struggle with social interactions in the office. They may avoid team meetings or find it challenging to navigate office politics. Other challenges facing neurodiverse individuals may include:

  • Sensory sensitivities
  • Executive functioning challenges
  • Communication differences
  • Attention and focus issues
  • Anxiety and stress
  • Task flexibility and adaptability
  • Perception and misinterpretation

Whilst organisations have a great opportunity to recognise the value of diversity in driving innovation and success, some find it challenging to provide neurodivergent employees with the right support, so they can reach their full potential.

Recognising and accommodating differences in the workplace is a moral requirement, but it also benefits the company itself. Making suitable adjustments improves productivity, which is a strategic advantage for businesses.

One solution is providing education and awareness training to line managers and senior leaders – helping them to understand how organisations can adapt to accommodate neurodiverse talent, how to communicate in a sensitive manner, what different neurodiversity labels mean, and much more.

Understanding neurodiversity comes with huge benefits. By choosing neurodiversity training, organisations can help create a work environment which enables neurodivergent people to feel safe, supported and able to perform at their best. Training also helps managers to increase their soft skill capability to effectively support employees diagnosed with ADHD, Autism (ASD), and Tourette’s Syndrome.

It is hugely impactful in landing both behavioural and organisational culture change. New technologies, such as scenario-based learning, enables ‘active’ rather than ‘passive’ learning, where learners can explore a conversation with no limitations, stigma, and no fear of rejection or upsetting someone.

Following training, managers and senior leaders should feel empowered to effectively support neurodiverse employees and help them to reach their true potential in the workplace. However, it isn’t the case of carrying out a one-off training session, look to hold training at regular intervals throughout the year – quarterly, bi-annually. This will ensure new managers and leaders are captured under the programme.

One of the best ways to deliver training is to appoint a specialist neurodiversity training provider, who will be able to tailor training to suit the needs of your organisation. Look to carry out training in a variety of ways, such as remote, gamified apps, face-to-face, as everyone learns differently.

Whatever you choose to do, know that any training you provide will have a positive impact on the support you provide your workforce. Helping people to be their best at work.