Workplace neurodiversity challenges faced by neurodiverse talent

Even though neurodiverse employees bring different talents to the workplace, they often encounter significant hurdles that impact workplace neurodiversity.


More often than not, finding the right career opportunity is a tough prospect for anyone but when you’re a neurodiverse individual, this can become especially difficult. Starting from the recruitment stage to training and development, many employers don’t have the required level of workplace neurodiversity to accommodate individuals with cognitive challenges.

Unfortunately, many businesses around the world hire employees based on how well they fit into the culture of an organisation and inadvertently overlook a large number of employees, including neurodivergent individuals, who have something unique to offer.

Sometimes, organisations will incorporate inadequate quotas to meet diversity and inclusion targets that will help them become more inclusive without making their existing employees feel uncomfortable. As a result, it can be difficult for neurodiverse employees to secure a job. 

The hurdles they face, however, don’t end there. Once they’re hired, neurodiverse employees also face challenges in obtaining the resources they need.

What does neurodiversity look like in the modern workplace?

Even though 96% of organisations think that neurodiversity can benefit workplaces, the actual figures tell a different story as only 1 in 5 autistic people in the UK are employed.

In a 2020 report released by Universal Music, it was estimated that the percentage of neurodiverse people in the creative industry is double that of the general public. What’s surprising is that even with these figures, an astonishing 75% of employers in the creative industry don’t have the proper policies in place to support neurodiverse employees or improve workplace neurodiversity.

What common problems do neurodiverse employees face at work?

While neurodiverse individuals experience the world differently depending on their specific condition (e.g. autism, dyslexia, ADHD, etc.), the challenges they face in their day-to-day work lives are generally the same.

discrimination and stigma

Did you know that 75% of neurodivergent employees keep their condition a secret for fear of discrimination?

Discrimination in the workplace is one of the leading concerns that neurodiverse employees struggle with on a daily basis. The stigmas and stereotypes often cloud the judgement of their colleagues and managers, leading to workplace discrimination.

What’s even more interesting is that these employees believe that they have a good grasp of neurodiversity. However, most are basing their opinions on outdated perspectives that do more harm than good for workplace neurodiversity.

unsuitable workspaces

Workplaces are always designed to accommodate neurotypical employees without taking into consideration the needs of neurodiverse individuals. 

When hiring neurodiverse employees, these workspaces can hinder their productivity as employees don’t have the tools to reach their full potential.

If a company is looking to create a genuinely neurodiverse workplace, it’s important to design and build spaces where both neurodivergent and neurotypical employees can co-exist while having the tools to successfully engage with each other.

‘one-size-fits-all’ approach

People with ADHD, autism, Tourette’s syndrome, dyslexia, and other cognitive conditions are always present in the workforce—especially with 15% of the UK population being neurodiverse. With every condition being unique and having a unique set of challenges, working conditions also need to change accordingly.

For instance, many neurodiverse individuals are sensitive to sensory stimuli like loud noises, bright lights, and even strong odours. Experiencing these in the workplace can become quite overwhelming and cause stress and anxiety, making it difficult to perform everyday tasks.

Therefore, employers need to focus on making neurodiversity a priority to unleash the true potential of neurodiverse employees.

final thoughts on workplace neurodiversity from Kinhub

It’s time organisations take charge and change the conversation surrounding neurodiversity. Organisations need to recognise the value that neurodiverse individuals bring to the workplace by addressing these challenges head-on.

Workplace neurodiversity is something that needs to be championed by everyone to make sure that every employee has the same opportunities to make the most of the benefits afforded to them.

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