BrightHR’s Alan Price discusses how employers can adapt the workplace for employees with neurodiverse conditions such as ADHD and dyslexia.
What is bionic reading?
Swiss developer and typographic designer Renato Casutt spent six years developing the technique of bionic reading, the very same technique we’re using to write this sentence.
It works by highlighting a limited number of letters in a word in bold to help people read faster and use less focus.
Why is it useful for people with ADHD and dyslexia?
ADHD itself doesn’t usually cause a problem with reading or processing information. But it can make maintaining focus challenging. That’s why this technique may be beneficial to employees who have ADHD as its aim is to allow the reader to improve their reading experience, speed and comprehension. It’s also been suggested this method of writing can help people with dyslexia but for very different reasons.
Someone with dyslexia for example may get stuck sounding out individual parts of a sentence or word. This technique helps to move their eyes from one bold section to the next allowing the reader’s brain to fill in gaps from memory.
Research is still being done into the effectiveness of this technique. But it’s a great example of just one simple way you can better understand the challenges your employees may face to make your workplace more inclusive and accessible.
So, how else can you support staff with ADHD in your workplace?
Lots of people may struggle to openly discuss neurodiverse conditions so it’s important to open a dialogue and create an environment where staff feel safe to be open.
Understanding the reasons staff may not want to be open with you is key. This could be fear it will impact the perceptions of their abilities or performance, or even that assumptions will be made about their soft skills, like time management and organisation.
It’s important to remember one employee who suffers from ADHD won’t always exhibit the same pattern of behaviour as another. As with anything in life, one person’s experience with ADHD can differ from the next.
Adapting for neurodiversity at work
An effective way to support your neurodiverse staff as an employer is to speak to your employees and make reasonable adjustments if necessary. You can even conduct an occupational health report if you and your employee agree one is needed.
Remember, all employers have a legal duty to make reasonable adjustments for workers with a disability which extends to conditions like autism, ADHD, dyslexia and dyspraxia, amongst many others.
Reasonable adjustments can range from techniques like bionic reading to desk dividers, coloured overlays for paperwork, noise-cancelling headphones and even flexible working.
Offering your staff flexible working arrangements could be an effective way to support neurodiverse employees. Especially those who have different work styles and preferences. But again, it’s important to have a conversation with your staff first about whether they will be comfortable and productive from home.
Everybody is different. For staff with conditions like ADHD, being in their own environment may be less stimulating and more of a comfort – boosting their ability to work. Equally, some people who suffer from ADHD may get overwhelmed or distracted by other people or tasks in their household and could find it harder to maintain productivity.
Having these conversations and introducing working-from-home policies and risk assessments is key to both protecting your staff, but also making sure your team is operating at their full potential.
It’s also extremely important to check in on your employees about their working needs, because failure to consider reasonable adjustments or treating someone less favourably because they have a disability is likely to be seen as discrimination.
By Alan Price
Alan Price is the CEO at BrightHR and COO at the Peninsula Group. A version of this article was previously published on the BrightHR blog.
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