Article: Reimagining HR's future work philosophy through neurodiversity

Strategic HR

Reimagining HR's future work philosophy through neurodiversity

Ushering in the spirit of New Year, here we bring a thought provoking ideology that’ seen taking a leap step in creating new work philosophy at workplaces in India as well as in the global space.
Reimagining HR's future work philosophy through neurodiversity

The future has arrived! It is indeed the time to bring the changes that we have been envisaging since long. 

The workforce of the future is all poised to see some phenomenal thought-provoking ideologies that are being converted into action in the corporate world. Here we bring the not so known philosophy of ‘Neurodiversity’ that will be taking a new shape in the days to come.

The aim is to raise awareness among leaders and employers on the benefits that Neurodiversity can bring in the workplace and inspire more employers to take action to create more inclusive workplaces where neurodivergent individuals can thrive with ease. To begin with, the three most pertinent answers that we will be exploring here are:

  • What is Neurodiversity?
  • Why is it needed at workplaces today? 
  • What are its benefits?

For those who may have heard this term for the first time, Neurodiversity refers to individual differences in the structure and function of our brains and nervous systems. It is the biological reality of infinite variation in human neurocognitive functioning and behavior. Currently, it is also being used to describe the fast-emerging sub-category of workplace diversity and inclusion that focuses on including people who are neurodivergent.  Though this is frequently used by the autism community, it essentially has been tagged to have competitive advantage in the field of STEM to organizations by many researchers. 

Neurodiversity research reports emphasizes that some conditions which are a part of autism and dyslexia have default benefits like strong memory, high pattern recognition ability and good number crunching skills. Such a neurodiverse talent pool can contribute to a company's ability to innovate and problem solve better.  

However, getting them recruited and experimenting with the existing roles in a company is not as easy as it looks from the outside world. The preconceived notion about their abilities, and mapping it with their performance outcome is been seen as a mindset hurdle by many stereotyped organizational leaders. Another challenge that HR needs to focus is to get them the right support that will be needed to help them settle in the organizational system. It relates to technical assistance as well as behavioral support.

In fact, the journey of challenges begins from fetching the leadership buy-in to hiring the neurodiverse talent pool, followed by being supported at work and then growing their careers as per the defined organizational boundaries. Despite the fact that neurodiversity is not as uncommon as one might think, statistics suggest that about 1 in 6 children are diagnosed with neurodevelopmental differences in the U.S. However, owing to perceptual issues and lack of understanding of neurodiversity by potential employers, those with neurological disorders such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have typically faced much greater hurdles to get inducted in various organizations.

The better news is that many progressive organizations are now reimagining HR Work Philosophy through neurodiverse talent hiring. An ambitious recruitment target by SAP to hire 650 people with autism by 2020 has got a lot of applause from the industry. This German software giant has not made this hiring strategy for any CSR related issue, but it’s a conscious call based on pure logic and business rationale. This is a strategy based on overcoming the challenges of finding the right tech skilled resource. As we all are fully in cognizance of the fact that there is a dearth of skilled resources, companies have begun to re-engineer their recruitment processes. 

It is said that people with autism think outside the box, are very creative and have strong research skills. They also excel in attention to detail acumen. Such benefits are prompting neurodiversity to slowly become a part of workplace philosophies in 2020 that will build a more inclusive culture with the right set of needed resources.

Other companies like EY, JPMorgan Chase and Microsoft have also begun to develop plans for tapping the potential of the neurodiverse talent pool. Though leaders are well versed with the challenge of managing people with Neurodiversity as many a times they struggle in certain social situations and find difficult to navigate the complexities of non-verbal and verbal language; but it is also a fact that people with autism tend to become deeply engrossed in the subjects they enjoy that helps them become experts in their chosen field.

Summing up, one can easily find numerous benefits that go parallel to the talent pool of neurodivergent people. If organizations can properly address the barriers that currently prevent many neurodivergent people from securing employment, it would bring tremendous benefit to the technology companies including creative and digital industries as well. Hence, it is important to help improve understanding of Neurodiversity for dispelling the myths and stigma associated with it at workplaces.

Building on this workplace philosophy, we will bring to you simple ways and tips on how to ‘Develop a Neurodiverse team at work’ with details of how and what companies are doing about it. So, stay tuned and keep watching this space.

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Topics: Strategic HR, #MyNextCurve

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