Support for managers
On average around 10-15% of the UK population may have a type of Neurodivergace, the most common is Dyslexia. With a diverse workforce, it is likely you will manage or supervise someone with a neurodivergent difference. It is important to remember that people who have identified with a Neurodivergence may have other co-occurring conditions, for example, Dyslexia co-occurring with Dyscalculia.
If your member of staff has not shared previously that they have a Neurodivergent condition, then you may want to encourage them to go through Imperial's support process for staff in order to have an initial screen and, if needed, a Work Needs Assessment.
Neurodivergence & COVID-19
We recognise the current COVID-19 pandemic can be especially difficult for staff who are Neurodivergent. It is important to understand that staff will process information differently and may struggle with the rapid change of guidance. Please ensure communication with any staff members are as clear, concise, and consistent as possible. We also recommend that you allow some time in one-to-ones to talk through any guidance for those who need it.
The British Dyslexia Association has provided guidance on working from home and around returning to work after furlough. You may want to encourage your to complete or update a Workplace Needs Assessment (WNA) to accommodate the changes that come with working from home.
If you need further guidance, or if you feel one of your team would benefit from a WNA, please contact the Equality Diversity and Inclusion Centre.
Indicators of Neurodivergence
Everyone's experience of Neurodivergence will be individual to them but there are common indicators. A cluster of these indicators alongside abilities in other areas could suggest dyslexia or other co-occurrent conditions.
Does your member of staff:
- Confuse visually similar words such as 'cat' and 'cot'
- Spell erratically
- Find it hard to scan or skim a text
- Read/write slowly
- Need to re-read paragraphs to understand them
- Find it hard to listen and maintain focus
- Find it hard to concentrate if there are distractions
- Feel sensations of mental overload/switching off
- Have difficulty telling left from right
- Get confused when given several instructions at once
- Have difficulty organising thoughts on paper
- Often forget conversations or important dates
- Have difficulty with personal organisation, time management, and prioritising tasks
- Avoid certain types of work or study
- Find some tasks really easy but unexpectedly challenged by others
- Have poor self-esteem, especially if dyslexic difficulties have not been identified in earlier life
A quick guide for managers
As managers and those with supervisory roles, it is important to feel equipped to help support members of your team. Below are some key tips to help provide a safe and inclusive environment for Neurodiverse staff.
- Create a work environment where colleagues feel comfortable – and where they feel safe in asking for help. Give employees space to share potential concerns during 1-2-1s.
- Keep things simple and use plain English. Avoiding the use of acronyms and jargon.
- When presenting information, explain things clearly.
- Give instructions in both written and verbal form.
- Avoid giving too many instructions at once.
- Use flowcharts and idea maps as aids to learning and for easy reference.
- Ask people to take notes and actively encourage them to ask for clarification where needed.
- Set clear and measurable targets.
- Allow extra time for staff to ‘take in’ information. Processing something ‘new’ puts greater demands on short-term memory and working memory.
- Send essential information and reading well in advance of meetings.
- Where possible, provide a quiet space where individuals can work undisturbed, especially if work is particular important or a priority.
- Be aware that colleagues may not actually know they are Neurodiverse. They may only start to experience problems following some kind of change in the workplace, e.g. a change of process, a new manager, or a promotion.
Resources for managers
Neurodiversity Toolkit - Business Disability Forum
This toolkit has resources to support you with the following: Having sensitive conversations, help managing performance, workplace adjustments, and case studies. You will need to create a free Business Disability account with your Imperial email address to access these resources.