The quality of life at work can be affected by organisational features such as team dynamics, relationships with supervisors, workplace culture and inclusivity. To improve employee job satisfaction, employers need to determine staff perceptions of the quality of their work life. The top three global predictors for workforce satisfaction are the culture and values of the organisation; quality of senior leadership; and access to career opportunities within the organisation (Stanzell, 2019). Since the pandemic, we have seen what has been dubbed as the Great Resignation with employees leaving their jobs in droves for something better, more flexibility, a sea or tree change, or greater work-life balance.

The ongoing uncertainty of the pandemic has come at a significant cost for employees and employers alike. But there is much that can be achieved during these difficult times to support our workforce, particularly for those who may be disenfranchised or marginalised such as neurodivergent. Who are we referring to when we talk about the neurodivergent workforce? They represent over 20% of our workforce who identify as having Learning Disabilities such as dyslexia, dyscalculia, Autism, Developmental Coordination Disorder, ADHD and Tourettes Syndrome to name a few.

Why do you want to attract and retain a neurodivergent workforce? Well to be honest, based on the statistics you are already employing those who are neurodivergent whether you know it or not! By strengthening and developing your inclusive leadership practices you can attract and retain a workforce that helps you to meet your bottom line.

So, what does that mean in practical terms? Here are six key areas within a workplace that can make your workplace more inclusive for those who identify as being neurodivergent.

  1. Thinking about recruitment and onboarding practices are they inclusive of the different needs of neurodivergent job seekers. Research indicates that common selection tools, including interviews, cognitive ability tests, work samples, and personality tests can be a barrier to employment for those who are neurodivergent as they may not accurately and fairly evaluate the potential individual’s abilities (Sumner & Brown, 2015). Your workplace can be flexible and adaptive by enabling potential employees’ reasonable adjustments that allow them to demonstrate their skills and abilities fairly. These can be as simple as letting them use a computer with spell check, allowing some extra time to complete tasks or providing interview questions prior to enable potential employees time to prepare.
  2. Do you use universal design principles for your induction and onboarding processes? Applying universal design principles to your induction and onboarding process enables flexibility and accommodates a wide range of individual preferences and abilities. Universal Design (also known as inclusive design or barrier-free design) is defined by the Centre for Excellence (2022) as an environment that is designed to be understood, accessed, and used by all people regardless of age or ability. Examples could be having your policies and procedures in audio or video recorded format, having a support person to walk through the documentation or providing online training that can be listened to.
  3. Do you provide easy access to reasonable adjustments? Those who are neurodivergent may need reasonable adjustments to support them in undertaking their job role and this ensures they can succeed within your workplace. Providing reasonable adjustments is a requirement by law and in most cases these adjustments are low to minimal cost such as opportunities to work from home, access to assistive technology, to peer support. Do you have an inclusion and diversity committee? If so, who are the representatives on that committee? Do you know? Through your workplace culture are you demonstrating that you support inclusion and diversity. This means going beyond your usual Inclusion and Diversity work to being inclusive of those that are neurodivergent. For some time now neurodivergent has focused on autism but think broader than this, there are many more people who fit under the umbrella term of neurodivergent.
  4. Does your organisation participate in awareness-raising activities that support neurodivergent employees such as Dyslexia Awareness Month, ADHD awareness day or support Autism causes? A good way to show you are inclusive is to support these days, weeks or months. Many organisations are now supporting the International Day of People with Disabilities. We have seen amazing results from initiatives such as morning teas for breast cancer and the Movember movement. Broaden your thinking around ways to better support these awareness-raising activities. By undertaking such activities can make employees feel valued, appreciated and understood.
  5. Training and education of peers, management and leadership play a significant role in make sure workplaces are inclusive of the different needs of employees. Upskilling your workforce will ensure you have a greater understanding of the needs of your neurodivergent workforce and more importantly the strengths they bring.
  6. Creating a psychologically safe workplace. Psychological safety is being able to show one’s self without fear of discrimination and negative consequences to one’s self-image, status or career (Kahn 1990). It can be defined as a shared belief that a team is a safe place for interpersonal risk-taking. In psychologically safe teams, members feel accepted and respected.


Image Psychological Danger versus Psychological Safety (DDF,2021)


Employers are uniquely positioned to create inclusive and diverse environments that meet the needs of the neurodivergent individual and by doing so employers will see less job burnout, improved mental health and wellbeing and in turn increased productivity in work environments. 



Dear Dyslexic Foundation (2021). Dyslexia in the workplace, eLearning course, Pointsbuild, Melbourne.

Kahn, W. 1990 Psychological Conditions of Personal Engagement and Disengagement at Work. The Academy of Management Journal Vol. 33, No. 4 (Dec., 1990), pp. 692-724 (33 pages)

National Disability Authority (2020). What is Universal Design. Centre for Excellence in Universal Design. Retrieved o January 2022, from

Stansell, A. (2019). Which Workplace Factors Drive Employee Satisfaction Around the World? Retrieved o January 2022, from

Sumner, K. E., & Brown, T. J. (2015). Neurodiversity and Human Resource Management: Employer Challenges for Applicants and Employees With Learning Disabilities. The psychologist manager journal, 18(2), 77-85.