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Embracing Neurodiversity in the Workplace: 5 Benefits of Hiring Neurodiverse Talent

Employment and the labor market are weird right now, right? Statistics demonstrate that only 62% of the labor force is participating. In Colorado, there are two jobs for every person looking for a job. Yet, companies everywhere are reporting a labor shortage and a lack of qualified applicants. In the skilled trades, only two individuals are replacing the five that retire, leaving an ever-increasing gap. Five generations are working together for the first time in history. Managers and teams are clearly struggling. But, here’s the question: Are these businesses considering actively seeking neurodiversity in the workplace?

READ: How Business Leaders Can Embrace a Multigenerational Workforce 

Some companies are getting creative working with non-profits and workforce development centers to develop paths for individuals moving into our great country and state, while others are working to give second chances to those seeking them. But what continues to surprise me, is that no one is looking at the neurodiverse community and embracing those that are neurodivergent. 20 percent of our population falls into this category! What’s going on? 

Colorado just become the first state to launch a Chamber of Commerce for this disenfranchised and underrepresented group in 2022 (The Colorado Neurodiversity Chamber of Commerce). That comes 34 years after the launch of the Women’s Chamber in 1988, and 59 years after the Black Chamber in 1963.  But in just a few months over 60 big companies have already taken notice and jumped on board. Companies like Charles Schwab, Keiwet, UC Health, Trimble, the Denver Airport, The Dumb Friends League, and more. 

They’re recognizing the possibility and trying to embrace it. Here’s the thing, Neurodiversity in the workplace already exists, and neurodivergent adults are struggling because companies don’t know what it is and how to support their employees that deserve the support enablers to be successful. 

READ: Veteran Unemployment — Untapped Workplace Resources

So let’s start — first, what is Neurodiversity?

Neurodiversity refers to the natural variation in human brain function and the ways in which people process information and interact with the world around them. It recognizes that there is a wide range of neurological differences that are normal variations of the human experience and that these differences should be accepted and valued as part of the diversity of the human population. The concept of neurodiversity includes conditions such as autism, ADHD, dyslexia, Tourette’s syndrome, and other neurological differences. It emphasizes that these conditions are not necessarily disorders or deficits but are variations in how people’s brains are wired.

Society should be more inclusive of people with neurological differences and find innovative ways to support their strengths and abilities. Also, we need to reject the idea that these conditions should be “cured” or eliminated, and instead promote acceptance and understanding of neurodiversity as a natural part of human diversity.

And as a business — why hire Neurodiverse talent?

Implementing neurodiversity in the workplace can bring a variety of strengths and benefits to your company. Here are a few examples:

Unique perspectives

Neurodiverse individuals often have different ways of thinking and processing information, which can lead to innovative problem-solving and creativity. Their unique perspectives can also help to identify new opportunities and strategies that may have been overlooked by a more homogeneous team.

Attention to detail

Many neurodiverse individuals have a high level of attention to detail and can excel in tasks that require precision and accuracy. This can be especially beneficial in fields such as engineering, data analysis, and quality control.

Loyalty and commitment

Neurodiverse individuals often have a strong sense of loyalty and commitment to their work, and can be highly dedicated and motivated employees.

READ: 5 Tips for Building a Strong Company Culture in a Hybrid Work Environment

Ability to focus

Some neurodiverse individuals have the ability to hyper-focus on tasks that interest them, which can lead to high productivity and efficiency in those areas.

Diverse skill sets

Implementing neurodiversity in the workplace can bring a wide range of skills and strengths to your business, including strong memory, spatial reasoning, pattern recognition and more.

The Harvard Business Journal did a study and found that neurodistinct individuals can be up to 140% more productive than their neurotypical peers and that’s good business.

There’s so much more to add but It’s time to start the conversation and become aware of this incredible group. They’re already in your organization. And if not, they should be. Hire them not as a DEI intuitive because your company, employees, and teammates deserve a culture of inclusivity and talent. 

Questions? Good! Let’s start the conversation and move forward together. 

 

Danny CombsDanny is the Founder of TACT – Teaching the Autism Community Trades. The states leading supported employment program. Additionally, he’s the Co-Founder of the Colorado Neurodiversity Chamber of Commerce, serves on the Employment Taskforce the for Autism Society of America, is an Air Force Reservist recognized in the Pentagon for his leadership and serves on the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council on Buckley Space Force Base. Danny has a Master’s Degree in Education, is a Board-Certified Cognitive Specialist, a Certified Autism Specialist, also a Grammy Award Winner and a classic car junkie.