5 Benefits of Hiring Neurodiverse Staff
Written by Ashlea McKay | Edited by Autumn O’Connor
Neurodiverse people bring many valuable and unique strengths to the workforce.
Neurodiversity is a naturally occurring variation on the human brain and covers a broad range of neurological differences that include but are not limited to: Autism, ADHD, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, Dyscalculia and many more.
I am autistic and I think having a different brain is a really positive thing!
Neurodiverse individuals exist in all industries and come from all walks of life— chances are you’re already gaining value from neurodiverse staff whether you’re aware of them or not. Neurodiverse people are sometimes diagnosed later in life and in workplace contexts, we’re not always required to disclose our differences. It’s possible among your team, you may have a yet-to-be-diagnosed neurodiverse colleague or one who has chosen not to disclose.
Everyone is to some extent differently abled. No two neurodiverse people are exactly alike — even among those with the same neurological difference — but we have a lot in common. Here are five benefits for businesses, that can be gained from hiring us.
1. We think and solve problems differently
A major advantage to hiring neurodiverse people is that we think differently. We receive, process and interpret information differently and will often problem solve in unconventional ways or consider approaches and possibilities that other people might not. José Velasco leads the Autism at Work program at SAP for North America and says, “If everybody thinks the same way, we’re likely to miss opportunities to bring creative solutions to the market.”
2. We bring a unique perspective
Neurodiverse people often experience the world differently. It might be that our senses are heightened and we’re more empathetic. Maybe we’ve had to learn skills differently to our peers or we might be more resilient because we’ve faced unique challenges. Our different life experiences shape and build a unique perspective that can be valuable when solving problems or designing the future — studies have found that diverse teams can be more creative. Teams with neurodiverse staff have a better chance at holding a wider and deeper perspective which can translate into better designed products and services.
3. We are loyal and change jobs less often
Neurodiverse people tend to be quite loyal to their employers and are more likely to stay in a job long term. Provided the working environment is supportive, accepting and inclusive, your neurodiverse hire will likely stick around. Recruitment is expensive and staff turnover can significantly impact productivity. Goldman Sachs recently announced their plans to run a neurodiversity hiring program and recognised our “often higher retention rates” as a benefit to hiring us.
4. We’ll fit into your company culture
Living a life of difference ourselves, neurodiverse people often find it easier to empathise with and accept other human differences. Through my volunteer work leading and participating in workplace diversity and inclusion committees, neurodiverse people are often the first to join and support efforts across all forms of diversity — neurological or not. This enables us to fit in to different working environments while also adding to the rich diversity of your culture ourselves.
5. We can do any job
Neurodiverse people are everywhere! I have neurodiverse friends who are writers, artists, designers, scientists, engineers, consultants, managers, researchers, HR professionals and so many more! There are no limits to the types of career pathways that you might find a neurodiverse person thriving in. Microsoft’s Autism Hiring Program is open to autistic candidates applying for any role in the company. It doesn’t matter what industry, level or role type, all businesses can benefit from the value of a different brain.
So, there’s five key benefits to hiring neurodiverse staff.
Have you considered starting a neurodiversity hiring program at your organisation?
Imagine the possibilities!
About the author:
Ashlea McKay is an autistic writer and talented user experience (UX) professional. She is passionate about neurodiversity acceptance and inclusion. To read more about her perspective visit her LinkedIn profile.
7 things the autistic person in your workplace needs from you by Ashlea McKay
Microsoft. (2019). Our Inclusive Hiring Programs.
Phillips, S. (2019). Autism at work: why it works for SAP.
Scipioni, J. (2019). Goldman Sachs to hire more people with autism, dyslexia and other disorders.
Tadmor, C., Satterstrom, P., Jang, S., & Polzer, J. (2012). Beyond Individual Creativity: The Superadditive Benefits of Multicultural Experience for Collective Creativity in Culturally Diverse Teams. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 43 (3), 384-392. doi: 10.1177/0022022111435259