Supporting ADHD colleagues

There is a growing awareness for employers about neurodiversity and conditions such as ADHD.

However, it may be daunting as a manager if you are unsure what to do to help your employee, especially if you have not had previous experience or training in supporting neurodivergent individuals. Here are some tips to help you begin to better understand and start to look at adjustments in the workplace.

Educate yourself

Find out more about the condition so you can anticipate what supports would benefit your employee and business and get a better understanding on the reason behind some of your employees behaviours.

Involve the individual

Every individual with ADHD might need support in a different way and struggle in different areas. Many adults do not have issues with hyperactivity but some may. Even if you have supported other individuals with ADHD it is important to get to know the person you are supporting and ask them how they can best be supported by you.

Modify the work environment

The environment can have a big impact on neurodivergent individuals. Some people may benefit from an open-plan office, while others need to work away from distractions. Remote working may be a good solution for individuals that get easily distracted by working with others, but might not suit someone who gets motivated by being around co-workers.

Be flexible with schedules

9-5 might not be the most productive time of the day for some individuals and maintain focus for that period of time may lead to missed deadlines, lower productivity and burnout. Speak to your employee and find out what schedule would suit them.

Be flexible with start and end times

Many individuals with ADHD can struggle with estimating time and this results in being late often. Allowing an individual to have a 15 minute window at the start and end of the day will help relieve that pressure and reduce reprimands or punishments for arriving late.

Positive reinforcement

Warnings and reprimands can have a very damaging effect on many individuals with ADHD. They can be very sensitive to rejection and for some individuals this can feel like an intense pain. To help motivate and support an employee, try to use positive reinforcement to correct errors, building on strengths and collaborate around solving any mistakes.

Write down tasks

Working memory can often be limited for some individuals, so provide instructions, tasks and requests in writing so it can be referred to again in the future. It may help to prioritize too if an employee struggles with that executive functioning skill.

Short-term deadlines

Most employees with ADHD work much better when there are short, attainable goals to focus on. It can be a struggle to keep a high level of focus on a task that is not due for several weeks or months. Make sure there is a clear deadline, and help the individual break down a larger or longer task into more attainable short-term goals, to help keep motivation and focus going.

The key to a successful relationship is always to work with your employee. Sit down and have an open conversation and ask your employee what you can do to help them. You could always use the list below as a starting point for a conversation.

If you are still unsure and need further guidance then take a look at the workplace assessments and training our team can offer to you and your employee.

Find out more about our training offer for employers and how we can support you and your employee.

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