Benefits of neurodivergent talent

Many job functions within Life Sciences organisations require specialist soft skills, from pattern recognition abilities, precision and accuracy, through to synthesizing large amounts of data. And these are the skill sets that can be prevalent within neurodivergent talent.

With 15-20% of the global population estimated to be neurodivergent, it may be surprising that 30-40% are unemployed. So how can Life Sciences organisation’s, that require rare highly-skilled talent, ensure that that are able to attract, hire and retain neurodivergent talent?

Attracting neurodivergent talent

Attracting neurodivergent talent requires a thoughtful and inclusive approach. Those that identify as neurodivergent have certain characteristics that Talent Acquisition (TA) leaders need to be sensitive to when designing their talent attraction strategies.

Create an inclusive job description: Firstly, use inclusive language in job postings to show that your company values diversity and welcomes neurodivergent individuals. Most importantly, avoid jargon and ambiguous language whilst refraining from being too specific in person requirements. Some neurodivergent disabilities take things literally. Do not specify length of experience as a perquisite for a role as neurodivergent talent will take this literally. If you are asking for two years of experience in a certain field but they only have 22 months then they will simply not apply.

Promote diversity and inclusion initiatives: Showcase your company’s commitment to diversity and inclusion through your website, social media channels, and recruitment materials. Highlight testimonials from neurodivergent employees and share success stories to demonstrate your company’s dedication to creating an inclusive workplace culture.

Offer flexible work arrangements: Many neurodivergent individuals may benefit from flexible work arrangements, such as remote work options or adjustable schedules. Highlight these benefits in your job postings to attract candidates who may require or prefer flexibility.

The recruitment process

Modify your hiring process: Your standard recruitment process that could involve interview panels through to assessment centers may not allow neurodivergent talent to succeed. Take into account considerations such as only having one-on-one interviews and even hold them virtually to ensure that they feel comfortable in their surroundings to successfully portray their strengths for the position.

Interview format: Providing interview questions beforehand allows the individual to showcase their skills within an interview. An interview shouldn’t be to catch people out but an opportunity to showcase themselves and the relevant skills they possess.

Provide clear expectations and support: Clearly communicate your company’s commitment to supporting neurodivergent employees and provide information about any accommodations or support services available during the recruitment process. This can help alleviate concerns candidates may have about workplace accessibility and inclusivity.

Partner with neurodiversity advocacy groups: Collaborate with organizations that specialize in supporting neurodivergent individuals in the workplace. These groups can help you connect with qualified candidates and provide valuable insights into creating an inclusive recruitment process.

Retaining neurodivergent talent

Offer training and education: Whilst considerations are needed for the individual, the company as a whole requires awareness to ensure that you are able to retain neurodivergent talent. Invest in training programmes to educate managers and team members about neurodiversity and how to create an inclusive work environment. Providing education and awareness can help reduce stigma and ensure that neurodivergent employees feel supported and valued.

Highlight career development opportunities: Emphasize opportunities for career growth and development within your organization. Neurodivergent individuals, like any other employees, are interested in advancing their careers and contributing to the success of the company.

Inclusivity and corporate culture: Embracing neurodiversity demonstrates a commitment to inclusivity and diversity within the workplace. This can foster a positive corporate culture where all employees feel valued and respected, leading to greater employee satisfaction and retention.

Offer a neurodivergent committee: This can provide a safe space for people to speak openly about their neurodivergence, speak to other peers on their own struggles and how to navigate through them.

An inclusive workforce means business success

Ensuring that you have an overall inclusive workforce that benefits neurodivergent individuals ensures that their ability to think differently can offer unique viewpoints that traditional thinkers might overlook. This diversity of thought can lead to more innovative solutions and approaches to problem-solving.

Attention to detail: Many neurodivergent individuals have a keen eye for detail and can excel in tasks that require precision and accuracy. This can be particularly valuable in fields such as quality control, data analysis, or software testing. With the increase in Artificial Intelligence (AI) within the drug and medical device development process, this skill set is truly invaluable.

Increased productivity: With the right support and accommodations, neurodivergent employees can often achieve high levels of productivity and efficiency. Their ability to hyperfocus on tasks they find interesting or challenging can result in impressive outcomes.

Ultimately, by actively recruiting neurodivergent individuals, companies can tap into a previously underutilized talent pool. This can help address talent shortages and provide opportunities for individuals who may have faced barriers to employment in the past. Many companies are also recognizing the importance of diversity and inclusion initiatives not only for ethical reasons but also for compliance with regulations and to meet the expectations of socially conscious consumers and investors.

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