Neurodiversity in the Workplace

  • Occupational Health
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Peninsula Group, HR and Health & Safety Experts

(Last updated )

In this guide, we'll look at what neurodiversity is, different types of conditions, and how to provide support for neurodiverse employees.

Every business should aim to create a diverse and inclusive workplace culture. But this is only possible if you recognise that all people think, speak, and work differently.

Neurodiversity is all about recognising these differences. It's about championing what makes us unique, as well as helping those experiencing challenges that come from our differences.

As an employer, you should support neurodiversity. If you don't, you could end up facing disability discrimination claims, high staff turnover, and reputational damages.

In this guide, we'll look at what neurodiversity is, different types of conditions, and how to provide support for neurodiverse employees.

What is neurodiversity in the workplace?

Neurodiversity in the workplace is all about creating an inclusive environment that supports people with neurodivergent conditions. Neurodiversity isn't a new concept - the term was first coined in the late 1990s by sociologist Judy Singer.

All human brains have their own natural variations or patterns. Meaning, neurodivergent persons process information, uses language, and physically function in an unique manner. Specifically in comparison to their neurotypical counterparts.

In a workplace setting, employers arguably benefit more from encouraging their neurodivergent community. When employees are allowed to think or work differently, it helps to grow overall output, revenue, and success for the business.

What are the advantages of neurodiversity in the workplace?

Employers gain numerous benefits from hiring neurodivergent employees. With the right support and workplace adjustments, you'll be able to build skills and grow their talents.

Let's take a look at the advantages of having a neurodiverse workforce:

Fresh perspectives and special skills

Neurodivergent people bestow special skills when it comes to pattern recognition, visual memory, and problem-solving skills. These can be beneficial in your workplace and help aid business improvement.

For example, you and your staff might be stuck on a business problem. If a neurodivergent employee was to review the issue themselves - because their brain processes information differently - they could offer a fresh perspective which might resolve the problem.

Access to wider talent pool

In a crowded and competitive recruitment market, neurodivergent people are often judged by their conditions. However, overlooking their side of the talent pool means you'll miss out on hiring equally qualified candidates.

Furthermore, if you actively support neurodiversity in your workplace, job seekers will recognise this and see this as a benefit of being employed with you. Consequently, it could attract more applicants to your workplace.

Improves employee retention

A large portion of the UK population have some form of neurodiversity or health-related conditions. When you actively support employees with neurodiversity, you instantly promote diversity, equality, and inclusion in the workplace.

Your staff will recognise this - and also be aware that not every employer is as inclusive. As a result, they'll likely want to stay employed with you because they know you will support their mental wellbeing.

What conditions are linked with neurodiversity?

There are several common neurodivergent conditions discovered over the years. Each diagnosis will vary depending on a person's health, environment, and life experiences.

Despite that, employers should be aware of conditions related to neurodiverse people. Let's take a look at a few common conditions:

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

ADHD is a condition that changes a person’s behaviour or manner. Common symptoms found in people with ADHD are hyperactivity, impulsive behaviour, and impatience. In the workplace, a person with ADHD may find it hard to sit in long meetings.


Autism is classed as a learning developmental disability caused by differences in the brain. Common symptoms of autistic people include difficulty understanding people's feelings, keeping the same routine, and avoiding eye contact. At work, autistic employees may struggle with social interaction skills.


Dyslexia is a learning condition that affects a person’s ability to read and write. Common symptoms of dyslexic people include challenges with processing information, languages, and written text. At work, dyslexic employees may struggle with duties that involve reading text.


Dyspraxia is a learning difficulty that affects a person's coordination and motor skills. Common symptoms of people with dyspraxia include poor hand-to-eye coordination and a lack of social awareness. In the workplace, employees with dyspraxia may have difficulties concentrating and prioritising tasks.

Tourette's Syndrome

Tourette's Syndrome is a condition where a person gets uncontrollable tics. These include vocal tics - such as whistling, and physical tics - such as muscle spasms. At work, people with Tourette's may need adjustments to ensure they are comfortable. You should listen to requests and accommodate where you can.

What laws cover neurodiversity in the workplace?

There isn't a specific legislation that covers neurodiversity in the UK. However, there are relevant laws that apply. Certain neurodiverse conditions may class as more severe than others - sometimes, even as a disability. Under the Equality Act 2010, a disability must:

  • Have a ‘substantial adverse effect’ on a person's daily life.
  • Last at least 12 months (or is expected to).
  • Influence their ability to do normal activities.

If a neurodivergent employee has a disability, they're legally entitled to reasonable adjustments to help with their work duties. For example, requesting they use a chat function to help with social interaction issues.

How to support neurodivergent employees

All businesses should recognise their employees as equally important - including neurodivergent individuals. It can be hard to provide enough help to meet their specific needs. Despite that, employers must do their best to create a work environment that supports their growth at work.

Let’s look at how to support neurodivergent employees:

Apply reasonable adjustments

If neurodivergent people in your workplace have a disability, you are legally required to make reasonable adjustments where necessary. Reasonable adjustments are workplace accommodations employers make. They remove or reduce disadvantages for disabled employees.

Reasonable adjustments could include:

  • Creating quiet workplaces to help employees who are easily distracted at work.
  • Providing noise-cancelling headphones to help eliminate background noise or loud conversations.
  • Setting 'dark mode' on computers to help those with sensory overload problems.
  • Allowing online meetings or remote working conditions to help those with social interaction issues.
  • Offering neurodiversity training to help raise more awareness.
  • Allowing additional sick leave to help those suffering from mental health conditions.

But, these might not be reasonable adjustments to make depending on the size of your business - and the costs involved. In these cases, employers would not be required to provide the adjustment. But, you should still find ways to support neurodivergent employees with a disability.

Keep an open dialogue with neurodiverse employees

Some neurodiverse people might find it hard to speak about struggles or challenges related to their conditions. They may not want to be defined by their health; or feel like they could miss out on career development opportunities.

Employers should keep open dialogue with neurodiverse employees on a regular basis. This will help you understand their specific condition and support their individual needs.

End stigma on mental health with training

It's important to deal with any misinformation or ignorant attitudes when it comes to neurodiversity. Understanding neurodiversity is a duty for both you and your existing employees - which is why you should have mental health awareness training.

Your staff should also know how to respect and view neurological differences. In the end, it'll help build stronger work relations between neurodiverse and neurotypical colleagues.

Make your hiring process more inclusive

Your onboarding process should be more inclusive of neurodivergent people - in all areas. For example, in your job descriptions, selection processes, and hiring programs.

Ultimately, they'll feel valued and respected. And it's highly likely they'll transition this into greater work achievements, efforts, and loyalty for your business.

Get expert advice on neurodiversity in the workplace with Peninsula

Every employer should encourage the aims and aspirations of their neurodivergent colleagues. If you fail to do so, you might end up isolating and potentially losing talented employees. You could also face disability discrimination claims, high staff turnover, and reputational damages.

Peninsula offers expert advice on neurodiversity in the workplace. Our teams provide 24/7 Health & Safety advice which is available 365 days a year. We take care of everything when you work with our Health & Safety experts.

Want to find out more? Contact us on 0800 028 2420 and book a free consultation with a Health & Safety consultant today.

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