A neurodiverse workforce can be a great asset to any company. From increased problem-solving skills to better emotional perceptivity and innovation outlook, find out more about how you can build and benefit from a neurodiverse workforce.
Like a majestic tapestry, a great workforce is made up of many strands. Not only are there various teams and projects, but a collection of talents, personalities and skill sets. Recent research has been steadfast in its findings – a diverse team is a stronger team. When you think about it, this makes perfect sense. Not only do diverse teams contribute to an inclusive and progressive environment, they represent a variety of lived experiences, meaning problems can be seen from a variety of angles.
In the last few years, neurodiversity has finally made its way into the broader conversation about workplace diversity. Neurodivergent (ND) individuals – those with differing neurological make ups resulting in conditions such as ADHD, dyslexia and autism – are known for their unique outlook and talents. Recruiting a neurodiverse workforce has a whole host of benefits, so keep reading to find out the skills neurodivergent people bring to the workplace.
Problem Solving Skills
An organisation’s ability to solve problems is essential to its overall success. Problems are a natural part of all good work, and trying to avoid them is fruitless, but knowing how to combat them when they do appear is a skill which will stand you in good stead for the future. ND employees, in particular, tend to have a particular knack for problem solving. This is because of the nature of problems: while every individual problem is unique, we are often blinded by the same sets of assumptions and biases which prevent us from reaching novel solutions.
So often, neurotypical people find it hard to see beyond set patterns of thinking, whereas ND employees have a natural advantage when it comes to thinking outside the box. The differences in their neurological make up make them much better at coming up with strategies and solutions for even the most difficult of problems. And that’s not to mention the fact that many ND individuals have had to learn to get by in a non-accessible world that, at least historically, has not been friendly to their needs, meaning they’re better than most at finding workarounds and alternative routes to reach a desired end goal.
While the world is finally growing more accepting of ND individuals, many have still suffered as a consequence of their condition. Whether it’s being overlooked in school, misunderstood by peers, or underestimated in the workplace, being ND is not always a walk in the park. Seeing the world in a different way to everyone else means that ND employees are much more likely to be sensitive and perceptive – skills which make them great leaders and excellent collaborators.
Traits such as emotional perceptivity are often overlooked in the workplace. And yet – whether it’s understanding customer needs or supporting the efforts of a team – it is a skill which is incredibly relevant to business success and a positive company culture. With a neurodiverse team, you can also educate neurotypical employees about the needs and differences of those who are ND, creating a more inclusive and sensitive workforce overall.
This is because ND individuals are excellent lateral thinkers. Rather than using logic alone to observe and process information, they’re much more likely to apply critical thinking processes in order to generate novel ideas and suggestions.
You may already be aware of the link between neurodiversity and creativity. In fact, many of the world’s most successful and innovative companies run initiatives set out to hire ND individuals specifically because of this fact. Their aptitude for pattern-spotting, make them excellent critical thinkers and strategists – traits organisations such as NASA have taken advantage of for decades now. In addition to the advantages already discussed in relation to neurodiversity and problem solving, ND individuals are also more prone to creative ideation in general.
This is because ND individuals are excellent lateral thinkers. Rather than using logic alone to observe and process information, they’re much more likely to apply critical thinking processes in order to generate novel ideas and suggestions. ND individuals also tend to be visual thinkers, a skill which gives them clarity of thought and expression. Rather than coming up with convoluted ideas which don’t translate in the real world, ND employees cut straight through to the simplest, most eloquent creative idea. The power of visual thinking is something I have championed for a long time, and it’s also why I designed Ayoa to be a visual tool that is accessible to ND and neurotypical folks alike – boosting creativity, and inclusive for everyone regardless of neurological make up.
A diverse work culture is a celebration of variety. By bringing more neurodiverse talent into your workforce, you can help to foster a positive work culture which not only values difference but nurtures it, enabling each individual to reach their fullest potential. You’re now up to speed with some of the many skills ND employees can bring to the workplace, but perhaps the most important thing of all is that ND individuals help neurotypical colleagues to think differently, too. That’s the real beauty of a neurodiverse company, it creates harmony and understanding through its accommodating of a variety of outlooks. And with the aid of ND employees, neurotypical employees can learn to throw out the box and reach new heights of creative insight.
Bringing creativity, innovation and sensitivity to the workplace, neurodivergent employees should be a part of every creative and inclusive work culture. With their skills in your ranks, your workplace is guaranteed to be a happier, more creative place.
ABOUT OUR GUEST WRITER
Founder of OpenGenius
Chris is the founder of OpenGenius, a company focused to helping transform thinking, creativity and learning. His technology solutions have been used by millions of individuals to clarify thinking, generate game-changing ideas, and turn ideas into action. He is a bestselling author on creativity, mind mapping and innovative thinking skills, with his latest book published by Kogan Page, ‘The Creative Thinking Handbook’ now available in 10 languages. Previous titles include ‘GRASP The Solution’, and ‘Mind Maps for Business.