For a truly inclusive workplace, we have to consider neurological differences, too.
When most of us imagine “disability accommodations,” we picture the ramps outside a building or the elevator in our office. However, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to workplace accommodations. To have a truly inclusive workplace, we have to be inclusive of neurological differences as well!
ADHD is one such neurological difference. ADHD can impact attentiveness/concentration, time management, executive function, emotional regulation, and more, making it an important hurdle to address for employees who may be struggling.
While ADHD is challenging, it can also be a source of creativity, spontaneity, ambition, and passion. In fact, people with ADHD are an enormous asset to the places that they work, as long as they are given the tools they need to succeed.
So how can we become more accommodating of ADHD? Here are a few suggestions on how to make your workplace more inclusive.
1. Consider Your Environment
While open offices can feel spacious and encourage collaboration, it can be a nightmare for anyone who struggles with concentration or focus.
Offering a separate, contained workspace; noise-cancelling headphones; office dividers; guaranteed, uninterrupted work times; and more can help minimize distraction. Remote work is also a great option for people with ADHD.
For employees who struggle with hyperactivity, it can also be helpful to create an environment where movement is encouraged. This can include walking meetings, frequent stretch breaks, and even designated spaces for exercise.
2. Take a Team Approach
When people with ADHD have little external support, they often check out. This is because they tend to be extrinsically motivated, meaning they’re most motivated when they’re accountable to a person or deadline.
A great way to create this sense of accountability is to encourage mentorship or offer access to an ADHD coach. A mentor or coach can help create the structures that keep people with ADHD on-task.
3. Keep Your Expectations Reasonable and Clear
Because of challenges with executive function — which includes task initiation, prioritization, and completion — people with ADHD need their job expectations to be clear and accessible.
For someone with ADHD to be focused, their role, too, should be as focused as possible. Their job responsibilities should be listed in order of priority to help with triaging, and marginal/non-essential tasks should be limited.
It can be helpful to co-create a job description together (or edit the existing one!), and be open to feedback on both the scope and expectations of the job.
4. Look For Tech-Friendly Solutions
Investing in tools that help people with ADHD is crucial to their success. A spreadsheet or project management tool can be the difference between success and struggle in a role!
Apps for organization, keeping time, and planning can be enormously helpful, especially if a mentor or manager can help set up those tools and integrate them. ADHD management apps like Inflow can also help in learning the skills needed to thrive with ADHD.
5. When In Doubt, Ask Questions
One of the best ways to support an employee with ADHD is to remain curious. Asking questions, collaborating, and problem-solving together not only helps improve work performance, but it creates an environment where struggles and setbacks can be openly discussed.
If you’re unsure of how to support an employee with ADHD, just ask! Chances are, they may have some awareness of tools and accommodations that have been helpful in the past.
Remember, we are the experts on our own experiences! Empathy can go a long way in creating a more accessible workplace. Listening to us, above all else, is one of the best things you can do.
Interested in providing accommodations for people with ADHD? The Job Accommodation Network has numerous resources and additional suggestions for employers.
Looking for support? Inflow, an ADHD management app, is here to help. Our science-backed program helps people with ADHD learn to thrive. Learn more about how Inflow can help you reach your potential by download our app on the App Store or on Google Play!
Sam Dylan Finch is the Content & Community Lead at Inflow. You can find him on social media @SamDylanFinch.