This article guides you through a list of potential strategies to provide an inclusive environment for employees Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in the tech industry, highlighting their many talents, and how best to cater to their working style.
Diversity has a hugely positive impact on modern businesses, but tech companies in particular can benefit from hiring neurodiverse employees, leading to an increase in financial return and a positive, thriving workplace. Recruiters, CEOs and hiring managers in the tech industry should pay attention when onboarding for new roles in their company, as ADHD people make great IT professionals: from their ceaseless ability to think outside the box, to their proficiency in communication and adeptness at learning new skills!
First, let's define ADHD
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects human behaviour, including symptoms such as inattentiveness, hyperactivity and impulsiveness. While most often diagnosed in children, it can last into adulthood, with an estimated 7%, or around 8 million adults, living with ADHD today. What is lesser known however, is that of that percentage comes some of the world’s most influential people, including business mogul Sir Richard Branson, American business magnate and co-founder of Microsoft, Bill Gates, and even Albert Einstein!
ADHD people have independent ways of understanding the world, possessing brains that process information differently, and as a result, have unique strengths. In a tech-based industry, ADHD employees can offer an essential advantage that could benefit your company in the long run.
Now that you understand what ADHD is and what it can positively affect your business, let us introduce you to the strategies.
10 Strategies to Create an Inclusive Onboarding for Employees with ADHD in Tech
1. Accessible Recruitment
It goes without saying that your recruitment process impacts the kind of workforce you build. CVs, cover letters and job interviews are often viewed as unchangeable in the recruitment process. Yet, by keeping traditional techniques such as these very rigid, you could be blocking entry for highly talented ADHD employees. It is therefore encouraged to look for alternative ways to search for new talent, for example by offering multiple avenues for assessing applicants. To onboard employees with ADHD in tech, video applications rather than cover letters, formal job interviews to group assessment days, even offering people their own chance to demonstrate their suitability for the tech role in a way that feels right for them. Perhaps you could set up some coding tests or a selection of multiple-choice questions which will engage them in a positive way, making it feel like a fun game as opposed to a strict test.
2. Clear Explanations
As creative thinkers, when ADHD people understand why certain decisions are being made, they can bring innovative solutions to the table. By clearly explaining to them what the tech team or department priorities are, you will increase their motivation and effectiveness. If you take time at the start to really onboard employees with ADHD in tech, setting out their tasks in an easily comprehensible style, this will pay off in the long run. We suggest coaching with both visual, written and oral instruction, so as to fully engage the trainee as they process the information. Encourage them to be curious and to stop and ask questions if there is anything they may not have understood. Known for their ability to think outside the box, with an inclination to work in a visual, creative manner, whiteboards or other such mediums can ensure that every employee, ADHD or otherwise, can feel comfortable getting up to speed with their new role. With today’s advances in technology, there are many ways for tech workers to come up with new and imaginative ways of doing things.
Bear in mind that the most important thing is that they get the job done, not necessarily the means by how they get there.
3. Encourage Expression
Natural experts in communication, ADHD people are often great in social situations, thriving off speaking to different people at all levels. By placing them in the right environment, or in the right scenario, you can be sure that they will share great ideas. Be it a client meeting, mentoring junior developers or presenting larger ideas to management teams, it’s up to your company to decide where best to incorporate these skills for the improvement of the business.
4. Create Room for Growth
Not afraid of a challenge, ADHD brains love variety and learning new skills. Once your ADHD teammates have learned something of value, make sure they sit down and teach it to someone else before they get excited about the next new challenge. When you have a project which involves two or more companies, ADHD people are great in this type of situation, as they will quickly pick up the methods and systems of the other team, enjoying and thriving in the change of pace. By always making space for self-development and career growth, not restricting your tech intern or new starter in terms of duties and tasks, you will enable them to channel their skills and abilities for the benefit of your company.
5. Flexible Time Management
Keeping track of time is often difficult for ADHD people, which can make tight deadlines and other professional tasks a struggle to complete. As a tech employer, so as not to overload employees with too much work at one time, it is helpful to break up tasks into small sections, estimating how long each bit should take. Regular deadlines and check-ins are helpful to keep them accountable and on task. ADHD people improve as they start to learn how much time it takes for them to complete various tasks, being able to work out how much time they need to set aside accordingly. Online calendars and regular automated reminders can be a good way to keep them up to date and in check with what they have to get done that day, or by the end of the week.
6. Promote Movement
While you might think that a long walk at lunch, or several trips to the office upstairs might seem like procrastination, studies show it has the opposite effect. Encourage your ADHD employees to take plenty of breaks to move around during the day. Exercising during lunch break makes all the difference, leaving you energised and ready for the afternoon, instead of stuck in an afternoon post-lunch slump. Allow intermittent breaks from long tasks, choosing shorter, more physical tasks like filing, delivering mail to others or helping a fellow developer with something they are struggling with.
7. Smart Scheduling
Make sure you formulate a schedule that works around the employee, not the company. May seem like an impossible task - since very person is different and you must consider everyone in the team- but small fits can work wonders on your employees' productivity!
Ask them when they are most able to complete focused work during the day, when they would prefer to take meetings, and when they are likely to plough through coding and more challenging tasks. If the different areas of their job are mapped out for them in a way that works for them, it is much more likely they will focus and get more work done than if they were stuck to a strict, generic timetable that wasn’t suited to their working style.
8. Be Understanding
While they might find attention to detail and accuracy difficult, and to maintain established methods and coding techniques, they perform best when developing new ideas and strategies. With their strong creative and problem-solving skills, small mistakes can be fixed quickly before they have too much of an impact. When sometimes this isn’t possible, encourage them to make and use checklists of common errors to watch out for as they go, reducing frustration for all parties.
9. Active Engagement
If it may look like an ADHD employee is not paying attention to the task at hand, doodling or staring out across the field outside the window, these things actually aid the ADHD person with maintaining attention. Do not judge small things like this, and pay more attention to their contribution and ideas proposed during the meeting. Encourage active note taking in meetings or when reading long documents so as to maintain concentration and attention levels and prevent restlessness.
10. Foster an Inclusive Company Culture
Workplace culture has a huge impact on every employee and everyday life. Not only will a good work culture foster more productive work, but also employee wellbeing, happiness and purpose. A negative culture can breed poor mental health, low quality working standards and overall success. Embed an informed and open attitude to your company culture with clear, defined shared values. Educate your company, ensuring all employees understand what it means to be ADHD. It’s important to promote it as a good thing, as all differences are positive and not something to judge. Flexibility and openness are the cornerstones of all great work cultures. In a respectful environment, ADHD employees will feel comfortable to express how they would like to work, be communicated with and approach daily tasks. Being up front with your company values of inclusivity and kindness, ADHD employees will know their differences will be celebrated, rather than resented.
10 Strategies to Create an Inclusive Onboarding for Employees with ADHD in Tech: Final Thoughts
There are endless ways that your company can onboard employees with ADHD in tech in a successful and beneficial way for both parties. Using assistive tech tools, visual and accessible onboarding means employees can choose to view information in a way that suits them. The ideal onboarding process should be engaging, versatile and adaptable to different employees and their needs. Ultimately, we are all different, and if you provide an accessible and welcoming environment adjusted to meet specific needs, you will see just how much your tech team could benefit from these talented individuals.
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