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“Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible.” – Franz Zappa, music director and producer.
What if we told you that we might all be sitting directly on top of an untapped goldmine of candidate talent?! You’d probably think we had let the summer heat go to our head. But, according to recent news from experts at The Recruiter, we just might be! In the latest issue of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation certified magazine, experts outline how embracing neurodivergent hiring could lead to an explosion of talent and productivity for businesses across the nation.
But first of all, just what exactly is “neurodivergent hiring”? A term that still many people are unfamiliar with, the phrase comes from the word “neurodiversity”. Without going into too much depth, neurodiversity generally refers to embracing people with a wide range of cognitive profiles and their unique talents. For example, people with autism, who may have exceptional mathematical abilities, or people with ADHD, who often make passionate leaders.
In an age when employers are more in need of highly skilled candidates than ever, hiring with the aim to include people with atypical makeups could be a great way to get access to the best talent in the business. By going the extra mile to make room for people who might have specialist needs, companies could pave the way for a brighter and more successful workforce. It comes as no surprise, then, that 90% of organizations reviewed by The Recruitment Events Co and Resourcing Leaders Group said they believed cognitive diversity could help their business succeed.
So just how can businesses get in on the game? As a medium-sized, independent business, we know better than anyone that implementing innovative new HR procedures requires careful planning. To make things a little easier, here are a few ways you can work a little neurodiversity into your hiring strategy and reap the benefits!
Be proud of your inclusiveness!
You’ve taken the progressive step towards an inclusive workforce, so why not shout it from the rooftops? If you’re looking to incorporate neurodiversity into your hiring policy, you could state your values in your job advertisements. Many people with specialist needs are reluctant to put themselves forward, even if they are more capable than average! By making your intentions clear from the start, you could attract talented candidates who might otherwise by unwilling to apply.
When setting the criteria in your selection process, why not take a leaf out of Elon Musk, founder of multi-national electric car company Tesla’s approach, and apply a “parts” mentality? This means focusing specifically on the exact skills a candidate needs to perform their function to the absolute maximum. Now, whilst this may sound like beginner’s talk, it’s a building block that often gets left behind, according to chartered psychologist Dr Nancy Doyle, who was interviewed in the July 2019 issue of The Recruiter: “Where they are going wrong is they are recruiting for Jacks of all trades when they need to be recruiting specialists.” So, if you’re looking for a top-notch .NET Developer, you might give a bit of a leeway in term’s of a candidates’ influencing ability, if they have outstanding pattern-recognition skills, for example.
Give interviewees a chance to prepare
Now we’re not suggesting you give away all the interview questions off the bat, but it might be an idea to give applicants a taste of what’s to come. If you have a unique interviewing style, could you give them an example question beforehand? Or a hint as to the type of format you’re planning on using? You don’t want scripted answers, but if your candidates have disclosed an anxiety condition, giving them a little extra help in this area could help level the playing field between them and neurotypical applicants.
Champion your champions!
Do you have an especially empathetic person who’s even more passionate about helping others on your team than everyone else? If so, why not give them the chance to shine, and appoint them as a mentor or coach to new starters? By giving them the resources to educate themselves on any specific needs your new team members might have, you’re giving them an outlet for their enthusiasm! They can then take the time to anticipate any ways in which your new employee’s line manager can help them excel and increase their output for your company.
Encourage education, education, education!
Speaking of line managers, it’s a good idea to make sure yours are in the loop with regards to how to help their team members contribute their best. If you’re an SME, of course line manager training time will have its limits. However, a little will go a long way when it comes to equipping your managers with the tools they need to people manage to perfection!
Get ready to reap the rewards…
By taking the step to pioneer neurodiversity, organizations can get ahead of the curve on this hot topic. However, whilst this will be excellent for a company’s Corporate Social Responsibility, this is more than a CSR box to tick. Ultimately, it’s a talent acquisition issue: by opening up our vacancies to a wider population, we’re opening our doors to a wealth of talent! In The Recruiter, founder of multi-national consultancy Specialiststerne Foundation, Thorkil Sonne, says: “I think we have passed the point of no return. So many big companies are now hiring autistic people not so much because of CSR, but for talent acquisition. It’s catching fire right now…”
At the moment, although the vast majority of organizations recognize the huge rewards that a neurodiversity initiative could bring, only a teeny-tiny 22% are currently taking action. So why not beat your competitor to the punch and start exploring your options ahead of the crowd? Thinking outside the box when it comes to HR strategy could mean the difference between snapping up the next Steve Jobs and missing out! When it comes to embracing the new, continuous progress can sometimes mean taking a bit of a step into the unknown. This can feel like a challenge at times, but as we’ve learned in our 27+ years of recruitment, sometimes you have to take a little leap of faith if you want to gain new ground. As Albert Einstein said, “Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.”