If variety spices up life, neurodiverse talent is the equivalent answer to the hiring manager. No organization wants to hire the same batch of workers over and over – all equally good at the same thing, all equally bad at the same thing.
Neurodiverse talent – who are these people?
It is easy to see human resources as one homogenous talent pool. Conditioning leads people managers, even the keenest observers of working professionals to assume, or even take for granted, a few aspects of ability. The truth is that human ability and potential run deeper and human workers are more distinguished than alike – with more experience or less at some tasks, with more degrees to their name or fewer, and with more strengths in one area and more weaknesses in another. Neurodiverse talent are those human resources who possess some abilities, traits, behaviors, and attitudes that lie a little further outside the most thickly populated range of the graph taken as a whole. These workers are simply differently-abled folk who can perform certain tasks better or worse than the majority of the population. Reliable scientific publications refer to neurodiverse talent as those with neurological differences.
HealthAssured.org points out that neurodivergent is simply anyone who thinks differently from the majority – the ones who are neurotypical. Their abilities can be harnessed for professional and business success if the abilities can be understood and estimated correctly. Then, it is up to the recruiters to deploy neurodiverse talent in pertinent ways so that they contribute to the organizational goals and seek a well-adjusted professional career alongside the other aspects of their lives. In the course of this interplay, it is possible that organizations have to make a few adjustments to their policies and day-to-day working models to make room for neurodiverse talent.
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It’s worth mentioning that neither the cause of the employer nor the employee is helped along by labeling neurodiverse talent as “dyslexic” or “hyper” or use words such as “disorder” to categorize them. On the contrary, there are gains for the Human Resource function to understand special abilities of learning, comprehension, memory, and attention spans. People at varying points on the autism spectrum have discrete abilities for concentration, recognizing patterns, and offering insights. These observations can be tapped by businesses that are becoming increasingly data-led. To this end, organizations must take a strong stand to promote positive, respectful language, and attitudes among the entire workforce. These policies and norms are enforced early and clearly create an inclusive atmosphere in which all measures and variations of talent and ability feel welcome and thrive in the world of work.
How neurodiversity fits into the world of work today
Around the world, employers now recognize the need for Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion (DE&I). DE&I is not just a nominal tick on the company policy folio but recognized as a way of thinking that brings a varied set of competencies and possibilities into the work environment. It is seen as a step up to being a progressive and visionary social and ethical entity for the organization. This mantra of inclusion, in India, is in the process of graduating from merely ensuring a gender-balanced workplace to one that includes diversity on several fronts including bringing in a range of skilled workers from a vast swathe of neurological development and behavioral breadth.
Since bringing in neurodiverse talent is in its nascent stages, it is the responsibility of human resource managers to sensitize the entire workforce about the stand taken by the organization in terms of behavioral standards and coworking protocols. A mutually respectful, level playing field is to be balanced by considerate performance management and skill-building exercises aimed to nurture neurodiverse talent. People managers have to actively conduct workshops and group scenarios where a workforce consisting of neurodiverse talent can work constructively together. It is a place where they not only “agree to disagree” or understand that “people are entitled to different opinions”. They need to progress several steps from thereon to disagree respectively in times of conflict and make decisions that others can live with.
Additionally, the demands of keeping up a full workday, week, and workplace rigors may not be physically possible for some categories of the workforce. They might have pressing physical and health schedules or obligations to attend to and it helps employers to be cognizant of these special needs.
Advantages of having a neurodiverse talent body
Problem-solving: Certain areas such as technical research, programming, STEM fields, and production/manufacturing benefit greatly from having the lateral thinking ability of neurodiverse minds trained at them. Several categories of neurodiverse talent go on to achieve great heights in solving problems that boggle others simply because of their way of achieving and defining the problem itself.
Innovation: Fresh ideas and repurposed solutions come easily to neurodiverse talent. Teams of neurodiverse thinkers can brainstorm and achieve hitherto unconceived solutions and this is a feather in the caps of the employers who hire these workers. Neurodiverse thinkers are often behind accolades won and benchmarks set in a multitude of progressive fields. With the right boost of mental wellness and support, neurodiverse talent can go places.
Focused pursuit of goals: Neurodiverse talent approaches problems with varying levels of intensity. Their determination in wrangling with a set of constraints gives them an edge over others who give up easily. This is the strength of bringing in diversity and ensuring that teams help one another over the harder stages of a project by playing to each other’s strengths.
Changemakers at every level: There are natural leaders, compassionate brethren, visionaries, and team players among neurodiverse talent. Having them among the team equips the organization for strategic progression and driving positive change on a range of fronts.
In India, several large corporations have committed themselves to harness the power of neurodiverse talent. Among them, EY’s Neuro-Diverse Center of Excellence has enjoyed patronage for over four years across the globe and is home to some of the most detail-oriented workers in its fold. Fujitsu India is among the frontrunners in making their workforce neurodiverse friendly through its Employee Assistance Program and Employee Resource Group. Taken forward during the COVID-19 pandemic, this program focuses on both the physical and mental well-being of employees and their immediate family. These are examples for any organization to uphold and emulate in their path of socially responsible growth.
- Business colleagues discussing How neurodiversity is driving innovation from unexpected places|EY.com| Karyn Twaronite|10 May 2019
- Fujitsu Explains; Why Companies Must Ensure a Truly Diverse Workforce in 2021?|BW People| Sugandh Bahl| 19 January, 2021
- Companies go beyond gender, eye neurodiverse talent|Times of India|Namrata Singh|Jan 4, 2021
- Why You Need Neurodiverse Talent|Gartner|Ashutosh Gupta|September 21, 2021
- Neurodiverse Talent: The Practical Guide to Attracting and Retaining an Untapped Candidate Pool|Breezy.hr| Diversity – Neurodiversity| JANUARY 21, 2020
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