Management and Peer Training
The success of any neurodiversity hiring initiative depends on the support of company leadership. The key is a commitment to managing all employees in a manner that makes the most of their contributions, rather than emphasizing differences or limitations. It is important to ensure that at all levels, neurodiverse employees, just like all employees, feel comfortable disclosing if they have a disability – or choosing not to do so if they so wish.
This means that all staff, especially direct managers, must be on board. They must also be properly trained, as managers will likely be the first people to anticipate problems and figure out ways to improve their employees’ experiences and productivity. This training should encompass not only neurodivergent thinking styles, but also how to assess employees’ individual needs, rather than assuming a general practice will work for all neurodivergent employees. HR departments should also aim to ensure that they are continuing to reach out to and support managers throughout their time managing neurodiverse employees.
It is also important to train existing employees on expectations regarding incoming colleagues with known neurocognitive disabilities. While these trainings do not need to be extensive, they should, at minimum, address neurodiverse employees’ accommodation needs and perceived differences.
Many companies with neurodiversity hiring initiatives implement support systems for their employees that incorporate a “mentoring” or “buddy system” component. Some companies have entire support teams to assist neurodiverse employees, including job and life skills coaches, work mentors, HR
representatives and others. Other programs simply place neurodiverse employees in smaller teams with outside representatives such as job coaches available to address neurodiversity-related issues. At a minimum, it is important to have a go-to person in HR to support any needs. Also, having peer advocates or mentors that can help neurodiverse employees navigate new environments and systems is often helpful. If the peer advocate/mentor is also neurodiverse, this is an additional benefit.