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New Eagle Hill Consulting Research Finds U.S. Employees Have Low Awareness of Neurodiversity in the Workplace

For Neurodiversity Week, Eagle Hill Offers Seven Strategies to Help Companies Unleash the Potential of Neurodivergent Employees

Sixty-eight percent of U.S. employees either said they are unfamiliar with the term neurodiversity or don’t know its meaning, according to new research from Eagle Hill Consulting. While 72 percent of employees say they would hire a neurodivergent employee, few workers are trained on working with or managing neurodivergent workers.

These findings are detailed in a new report, Neurodiversity in the Workplace: Are Organizations Overlooking Their Highly Capable Neurodivergent Employees When Creating the Conditions for Corporate Success?

“By some estimates, about 15 to 20 percent of the population is neurodiverse, and some employers increasingly are aware that these individuals can provide a competitive advantage,” says Melissa Jezior, Eagle Hill Consulting’s president and chief executive officer.

“Neurodivergent employees often add tremendous value to a company with unique talents such as innovative problem solving, heightened attention to detail, sharp math and data analytics skills, reliability, and perseverance. But they also can face a multitude of big obstacles in the workplace – stigmas that create an inhospitable work environment, social and communication difficulties, sensory sensitives that make a typical workplace overwhelming, or executive functioning challenges that can hinder their organization, time management, and productivity,” Jezior said.

The new Eagle Hill research finds that when evaluating employee performance, most consider the ability to communicate clearly (55 percent) and stay organized (54 percent), as important evaluation criteria, skills that often are challenging for neurodivergent employees. The research also finds that most workers (85 percent) indicate that they aren’t aware of promotions of neurodivergent workers, which isn’t surprising given that performance metrics for neurotypical employees may not be aligned with the skills of neurodiverse workers.

Jezior added, “The good news is that some companies are creating programs to actively hire neurodivergent workers, build awareness, meet their needs, and foster a supportive culture. But our research is clear that there is much work to be done in terms of raising awareness in the workplace about neurodivergent employees and implementing training and accommodations that enable these employees to thrive. If leaders aren’t trained on how to effectively manage workers and there isn’t a culture that values their skills, companies can’t leverage the unique strengths of these bright employees.”

“For example, one of the most critical steps organizations can take is to ensure leaders are properly trained and equipped to successfully manage and support neurodivergent employees. It’s also important to create mentorship and professional development opportunities for neurodivergent employees. Implementing thoughtful strategies for these out-of-the-box thinkers is a win for employees, managers, and the organization,” Jezior said.

To see Eagle Hill’s recommendations for how to improve the workplace environment for all, read the guide, How to Embrace Neurodiversity in the Workplace: 7 Strategies for Unleashing the Potential of Neurodivergent Employees.

In a new national poll of U.S. workers, Eagle Hill found:

Fifty-seven percent of workers say training in sensitivity to social differences would be valuable, and 56 percent indicated they would be interested in training on managing neurodivergent employees. Yet, only 14 percent say that training is offered at their workplace.

Only 16 percent of employees say there have been formal conversations about neurodiversity in their organization, and only 19 percent can affirm that neurodiversity is part of their corporate diversity, equity and inclusion programs.

Some 69 percent of employees report that their employer does not seek out advice and input from neurodivergent employees when designing office spaces, teams, and project management systems.

These findings are from the Eagle Hill Consulting Neurodiversity in the Workplace Survey conducted by Ipsos from January 11-18, 2024. The survey included 1,261 respondents from a random sample of full and part-time adult employees across the United States. Respondents were polled on the topic of neurodiversity in the workplace.

The term neurodiversity gives a framework for recognizing that some individuals’ brain function and behavioral traits are differences, not deficiencies. Neurodiversity can encompass a number of differences including autism spectrum conditions, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, Tourette syndrome, dyslexia, dyspraxia and dyscalculia, among others. As a group, the neurodiverse often experience high rates of un- or under-employment, as high as 80 percent.