Most people reading this article would consider themselves ‘neurotypical’, their brains processing information in a way that is expected from a ‘typical brain’.

However, some people’s brains process information differently and ‘neurodiversity’ has become a term offering a common language and understanding of cognitive difference.

Unfortunately, neurodiversity has been poorly understood by employers, not helped by societal stereotypes of people with ADHD, dyslexia and autism. These traits have long been characterised as having deficiencies which has led to the Equality Act 2010 coming to the rescue of people with arguably misperceived disabilities.

In contrast to this approach, more employers are alert to the benefits of a neurodiverse workforce, rather than one made up of uniform cognitive abilities.

Just as a rugby coach would not select a team of players possessing equal speed, strength and kicking abilities, these employers appreciate that they can recruit Employee A for their creative skills and Employee B for their ability to process and analyse vast amounts of data. Teams do not need the same skills and each member must learn how to neurologically integrate with their colleagues. Just like a jigsaw, everyone’s neurological edges are different, yet the best teams fit together seamlessly.

Morgan LaRoche Hannah Belton
Hannah Belton in Morgan LaRoche's employment team can provide you with further information (Picture supplied)

Employers do, of course, have the right to performance manage or discipline an employee whose capabilities, output or behaviour falls short of their job description. However, we are increasingly seeing employers look behind perceived ‘shortcomings’ and recognising that not all employees’ behaviours will pertain to the norm.

An employee who meets the definition of disability can bring several types of discrimination claim and employers are subject to the duty to make reasonable adjustments to remove barriers. Examples of reasonable adjustments for colleagues with ADHD or autism might include adjustments to the workspace, such as lighting or noise levels and generally making the place feel safe and familiar.

In recognising and understanding neurodiversity, employers may well discover that current recruitment, training and development practices may be discouraging new talent. By making even just incremental changes and becoming more inclusive, they may well step ahead of their competitors through innovative change.

If you would like further information about any of the issues discussed in this article, please contact Hannah Belton in Morgan LaRoche's employment team on 01970 343 343 or via email at [email protected]