Let’s talk about ADHD @ Work

Posted on Posted in Diversity and Inclusion

It’s estimated that up to 4-6% of your co-workers have ADHD, so chances are quite high that you work with someone that may have this neurodiversity, diagnosed or undiagnosed. I would always encourage those with neurodiversity to seek out employers that look to embrace and welcome a diverse workforce, and also to share with their manager and employer how their differences may challenge them, but also proactively share how very often it can be a gift and huge strength that if harnessed well can bring considerable value to a business.

In the UK, ADHD is considered a disability and therefore an employer must make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to support employers that have disclosed that they have ADHD, although you can also consider providing additional support if you also suspect it may be needed.

What might be the challenges faced by someone with ADHD?  Likely:

  • Difficulty with concentration, especially tasks they are not motivated to do, therefore try to be flexible about the scope of their role, and provide quiet space to work, and possible flexibility to work from home assuming there are fewer distractions. Encourage employees, when suited to the role, to use a headset to listen to music if they wish to reduce risk of external distractions. Plan in more frequent breaks into meetings and workshops.
  • Struggle with time management, including meeting deadlines. Try to buddy them with someone who is more organised to help them stay focused to meet deadlines. Encourage regular planning time and use of calendars, activity and project activity solutions.
  • Productivity and performance which is always highly scrutinised by employers can be a challenge for those with ADHD but also those around them. Encourage a supportive team culture, where it is easy to discuss our differences and how they can be valued. Consider workplace design so that for those who work better in a quiet corner away from visible and audible distractions can have the space to focus. Encourage ‘Focus time’ to be planned into the week to get work done. Encourage use of meeting rooms for meetings, rather than impromptu desk meetings which may end up distracting those who need the space for focus.
  • Poor memory, try follow up any verbal instructions with written instructions, and do not expect employees to recall on demand a fine level of detail without the opportunity to prepare.

For more guidance on what support and tools your organisation can offer visit ADHDatwork.add.org

Employers that actively hire employees with ADHD can create unique advantages as they make them amazing employees. It is commonly recognised that focusing on and leveraging employees’ strengths is better than focusing on their weaknesses to create opportunity for growth.  For those with ADHD will know, one of their many superpowers is Hyperfocus, which can be especially valuable in a technical role. They are also typically highly creative and great problem solvers and possess high energy which can be great when working as part of a team on projects. Employees with ADHD often have above-average creativity and intelligence levels and can be an invaluable resource to any business, especially in roles where creative flair and being able to “think outside the box” are key skills.

Where might you have hidden super-powers in your business you have yet to tap into?

Carlene Jackson, IAMCP UK D&I Lead