NiB Research

Neurodiversity in the Workplace

Neurodiversity in Business has supported over 500 of the world’s leading organisations to develop, improve and share practices and initiatives to support neuroinclusion in the workplace.

Neurodiversity in Business is proud to partner with Birkbeck, University of London to embark on this journey to undertake and promote this best-in-class research of current neurodiversity practice. We sincerely thank our sponsors Sage, McDonalds and Rolls Royce for their generous support.

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Top 10 Takeaways from the “Neurodiversity at Work, Demand, Supply and a Gap Analysis” Research

We weren’t sure how to choose just 10 takeaways from our ‘Neurodiversity at Work’ research. The report is packed with insights on neuroinclusion in the workplace.

The research, commissioned by Neurodiversity in Business in partnership with Birkbeck, University of London, is the first of its kind, highlighting the needs and concerns of the ND workforce. It surveyed 990 neurodivergent employees and 127 employers and is the largest survey of its kind.

Here are our top 10 takeaways which point to a clear pathway for more neuroinclusion at work – with thanks to Tristan Lavender’s LinkedIn post ‘7 Takeaways’ (items 1-7 below).

  1. Your neurodivergent employees have strengths that are key to innovation.
    While every neurodivergent person has unique strengths and challenges, more than 70% of them surveyed in this study consider hyperfocus, creativity, innovative thinking, and detail processing to be among their strengths – all qualities that are essential for innovation.
  2. There’s an untapped need and opportunity to embed neurodiversity into DEI policies.
    Although 92% of employers surveyed have a DEI policy, only 22% said it includes a focus on neurodiversity. This clearly illustrates a massive gap. As the researchers point out, “Employers need to focus on developing their confidence in creating neuro-inclusive processes throughout the employee lifecycle.”
  3. Flexibility in workplace and working hours matters.
    Of all the adjustments available to neurodivergent employees, the ones they consider most helpful are having a flexible schedule, being able to do part of their work from home, and having a private space to work when required. This is an important finding to take note of as companies continue to shape the future of work.
  4. Mental wellbeing requires urgent attention.
    Neurodivergent employees report worryingly low levels of wellbeing (2.02 on a 5-point scale). As the researchers state, “Wellbeing at work is now, more than ever, an imperative part of corporate social responsibility for all employees” and “a neurodiversity-affirming approach” is needed.
  5. Fear of stigma and discrimination is still widespread.
    When asked what barriers they face to disclosing their neurodivergence and/or requesting support, 65% of neurodivergent employees said they were worried about stigma and discrimination from management, and 55% were worried about stigma and discrimination from colleagues. Clearly, fostering psychological safety should be a priority..

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  1. Educating line management is essential.
    With line managers being the first port of call for employees looking for support, they need guidance on what to do. Currently, 65% of neurodivergent employees experience a lack of understanding of neurodiversity by managers and decision makers – signalling a need for wider education and support.
  2. Neurodiversity-friendly career pathways are critical for retaining talent.
    Career progression is critical for retaining neurodivergent staff, but typical corporate career paths may impose a ‘neurodivergent glass ceiling’ because they are designed for generalists rather than specialists. As the researchers conclude, “consider how policies and practices can develop careers and ambitions – beyond surviving, to thriving.”
  3. Intention to leave is high for neurodivergent individuals.
    Nearly 43% of respondents saying they were “very likely” or “likely” to leave, and the intention to leave was higher for ADHD and dyscalculic individuals than others. Influences changing their intention to leave included their supervisor’s support, psychological safety and career satisfaction. Tailored adjustments did influence the intention to leave, although to a lesser extent. These finding can be interpreted as ND employees wanting to be appreciated and valued for their skills, rather than just helped with any challenges.
  4. Intersectionality does have an impact.
    Within the report it was noted that the intention to leave was significantly higher for Asian, Black and Mixed Heritage respondents compared to white respondents. These numbers illustrate the impact of intersectionality and highlight the critical importance of creating inclusion for all minority groups.
  5. Self-disclosure drives access to adjustments.
    The study saw that the main data collection method by employers was self-disclosure (78.7%) and by disclosing employees gained access to reasonable adjustments. However, the study also identified that employees expressed caution on self-disclosing for fear of stigma and discrimination from both colleagues and management. Conversely, the study also identified that the largest barrier to accessing adjustments was a lack of disclosure (69.3%). This pattern urgently needs to be broken through education, understanding and acceptance.
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