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March 22, 2024

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Bosses urged to help neurodiverse workers thrive

Bosses must demonstrate commitment to building positive cultures that enable neurodiverse colleagues to discuss needs openly.

The call has come from the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) in a new white paper. It follows survey findings that highlight how people are unwilling to speak about neurodiversity at work.

According to an online poll, done in late 2023, 70 per cent of neurodiverse people said they hadn’t told their current employer about their condition. Meanwhile, 50 per cent of people said they wouldn’t declare it on a job application.

IOSH believes neurodiverse people add value to workplaces but is concerned that not enough is being done to encourage people to be open about conditions they have, including autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and dyslexia.

In the white paper, which is called Divergent thinking: embracing neurodiversity at work and published to mark the global Neurodiversity Celebration Week (18-24 March), IOSH says building a positive organisational culture in which diverse employees thrive and are encouraged to share details of their needs goes well beyond just having policies and training and making individual adjustments wherever feasible, although those are all important building blocks.

IOSH says organisations must also think of ways to show to all employees its commitment, including leaders openly discussing their own experiences of neurodiversity, encouraging the setting up of neurodiverse groups or networks and ensuring there is a neurodiversity section in diversity and inclusion policies.

IOSH President Stuart Hughes

Recognise and control unconscious bias

The paper also calls for line managers to be trained to help them recognise and control unconscious bias and assumptions about individual capacity or behaviour while it also calls on businesses to ensure they cater for individual needs rather than a blanket approach.

Stuart Hughes, IOSH President, said: “Our report highlights the importance of businesses encouraging positive cultures where people can openly discuss their needs.

“In the UK, the Equality Act 2010 made it a legal duty for employers to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate workers’ needs around neurodiversity and other conditions. However it isn’t just a matter of staying within the law; businesses can really benefit from having such positive cultures where people be open and really thrive at work.

“Given the value that people with neurodiverse conditions bring to a business, failure to do this is a failure to maximise the resources in their organisation.

“So our call to businesses is to ask themselves if they are doing all they can. They need to review the policies and procedures they have in place and act accordingly. There are significant benefits to be had from a diverse workforce where everyone is comfortable in being themselves.”

What makes us susceptible to burnout?

In this episode  of the Safety & Health Podcast, ‘Burnout, stress and being human’, Heather Beach is joined by Stacy Thomson to discuss burnout, perfectionism and how to deal with burnout as an individual, as management and as an organisation.

We provide an insight on how to tackle burnout and why mental health is such a taboo subject, particularly in the workplace.


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