One in three businesses is failing to support workers with neurodevelopmental disorders such as dyscalculia, dyslexia and Asperger’s, research has suggested.
A third (32 per cent) of 2,000 UK workers surveyed for Willis Towers Watson’s Employee Health, Wellbeing and Benefits Barometer 2019 said their employer did not offer any additional support for those in the workforce with neurodevelopmental disorders.
This was despite more than one in 10 (15 per cent) reporting that either they, or someone they worked with, was neurodivergent – an umbrella term for conditions where the brain functions, learns and processes information differently, such as dyslexia, dyspraxia, autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Mike Blake, wellbeing lead at Willis Towers Watson, said that while these disorders clearly affected the lives of many working-age people – with more than 500,000 adults living with autism in the UK alone, according to Austistica – much more could and should be done in terms of understanding, education and support.
“There is still a long way to go when it comes to recognising the scale of, and the level of support needed, for adults with autism and other conditions,” he said. “Employers may not be aware if someone is suffering from a neurodevelopmental condition, but supposition can be a harmful route and one that can fuel isolation. A supportive environment in which people can be open about living with their conditions, without fear of judgement, is vital.”
Blake recommended organisations establish this by offering workplace adjustments for affected workers and workshops to help staff better understand neurodivergence.
He emphasised the importance of privacy and that “boundaries should be respected” but added workers should be consulted about the level and nature of support needed, as some may see their condition as a highly sensitive.