Today’s workplace is seeing a crucial shift in the dynamic between employers and staff, with inclusion, diversity and equality at the forefront of what great company cultures can offer. As part of this inclusive approach, it’s important that employers have internal conversations about how best to help individuals feel safe at work, ensuring that this embraces everyone, including neurodiverse staff.
Between 15 and 20 per cent of the population are neurodiverse – some 10 per cent are diagnosed with dyslexia, five per cent with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and between one and two per cent live with autism spectrum conditions. In reality, however, these numbers are thought to be much higher, as many go undiagnosed. While many of these diagnoses come with hidden impairments, it is key that business leaders understand that by thinking and processing things differently, neurodiverse employees bring strengths such as hyper-focus, creativity, innovative thinking, problem-solving, memorisation, and visualisation skills. In this context, how can having neurodiverse individuals as part of your tech team benefit your organisation?
Think diversity Having a diverse tech team – a mix of “specialist” and “generalist” thinkers – is fundamental because the community you serve is most likely to be diverse too. It may sound like common sense, but to appeal to the biggest marketplaces and to reach the widest pool of people, you need teams to think like your target audience and have similar experiences to them – and having a diverse tech team is only going to be able to enhance that.
A neurodiverse workforce can also drive innovation within your company. Indeed, dyslexic or dyspraxic people are found to possess stronger analytical skills and are excellent at thinking outside of the box. Because they are more likely to process information visually, they are also good at finding hidden connections – which makes these employees ideal when it comes to discovering trends in data, for instance. Talent on the autism spectrum can give any company an edge as they bring surges in innovative and creative thinking – effectively squashing “herd-like” thinking.
By providing valuable and different ways of thinking and learning, as well as diverse techniques as to how to deliver and approach processes, neurodiverse people add to the richness of a team. As someone who has dyslexia and dyspraxia, reading an email does not work for my way of thinking, so I favour reading it out loud.
Now what happens, as a result, is that it helps others in my team to hear and learn how their own email and tone sounds and amend it accordingly.
This is timesaving, but it could also potentially give someone a new teaching technique – not to mention improve the quality of the content that they are writing and editing.
Faster and better
A neurodiverse team can also be up to 30 per cent more productive, and learn faster than neurotypical colleagues in tech roles such as software engineering, quality assurance, app development and business analytics. In the right environment, people on the autism spectrum can be 140 per cent more productive than their peers; JP Morgan Chase found during its Autism at Work programme.
What’s more, because of greater human empathy displayed by those with dyspraxia for example – which undoubtedly benefits customer experience and team relations – companies in the top quartile for diversity on executive teams are 25 per cent more likely to have above-average profitability than companies in the fourth quartile.
These are just a snapshot of the many benefits of building neurodiverse within the workforce, especially in your tech team. It is now up to business leaders to ensure neurodivergent people realise they are a value-add to businesses. We offer a unique perspective, and without that, businesses are completely missing out on methods of learning, communicating and targeting. Within the world of tech, creativity, hyper-focus and analytical talents could help address existing skills gaps and widen your talent pool.
If you are looking to bolster your tech team, speak to one of our data analytics recruitment experts today.