Here, we share advice and guidance to ensure you get the support you need in the workplace, and can celebrate your unique strengths, as someone with ADHD
Talking about neurodiversity in the workplace may initially feel a little daunting, however building up a successful channel of communication with your employer provides you with support and understanding to succeed in a challenging work environment. But, while it can be hard to adapt to set structures and schedules, it’s important to remember that ADHD brings numerous strengths and refreshing perspectives into your new role.
Starting the conversation about ADHD and your career can be done comprehensively and effectively by covering each of the following topics. It is important to remember that your employer will also benefit from this, as adapting certain things to work to your strengths will improve your productivity and wellbeing. Keeping someone with ADHD engaged and challenged will usually mean results above and beyond expectations.
1. Give a brief overview and bust some stereotypes
Working in customer service for a decade has highlighted to me the lack of training for direct and line managers with regards to neurodiversity and mental health. Therefore, in some cases, a brief overview of ADHD may be necessary.
Prioritise information on symptoms that will affect your day-to-day tasks. Explain the challenges your workplace presents, and what you can put in place to help you succeed. Many people will not associate ADHD with adults, and therefore may need some context and a brief explanation on how it differs from childhood symptoms. Writing a list of things that you’d like to include prior to this discussion is a great way to guarantee you don’t forget anything important, and can aid in feeling less overwhelmed.
2. Explain how your employer can help
Give a clear overview of the adjustments you need to accommodate you, and an explanation of why. Remember, under the UK Equality Act 2010, you are entitled to reasonable adjustments to your workplace.
For example, for people working in retail or customer service settings, this may be a change of task, including switching to something with less customer interaction for a shift, or even a few hours. Small changes to how you work can increase your productivity, and ensure you’re working to the best of your ability while avoiding over/under-stimulation.
Conjuring unique perspectives comes naturally with ADHD, and you may well suggest something that helps the whole team!
3. Share triggers and consequential reactions
Adult ADHD isn’t talked about enough, and is greeted with many misconceptions.
When talking to your employer give examples of common triggers, such as:
- Loud or repetitive noises
- Repetitive tasks over long periods of time
Explain the consequences of ignoring these, such as:
- Anxiety attacks
Giving on-the-job context like this is the best way to give people the tools to adapt tasks, play to your strengths, and help if you’re having a hard time. Remember, they can’t help you effectively if you don’t tell them how.
4. Try continuous communication
The most important part of working with someone to ensure a safe and comfortable work environment is continuous communication. Organising a ‘check-in session’ with your employer at regular intervals is a great way to make certain that you both stay on the same page. Pre-planning these means any changes or concerns can be regularly addressed. Monthly or quarterly ‘check-ins’ guarantee you don’t forget, or put off, scheduling time to communicate.
5. Don’t forget the positives!
While ADHD does present challenges in the workplace, it can also bring many unique skills, perspectives, and advantages to any role. It is important to communicate these as well, to really give a well-rounded picture of neurodivergence, and give an accurate representation of yourself. Having ADHD has personally equipped me with great people skills, unique problem-solving ideas, and a creative flair for product merchandising.
Feeling comfortable in your workplace, and being given an equal opportunity to succeed, is everyone’s right. If you feel you aren’t receiving the support you need after feeding back to your employer, you should seek advice from your HR representative.
Ultimately, it is your decision on how much you feel the need to disclose to your employer. You have the right to privacy, and sometimes explaining yourself can feel disconcerting, or overwhelming. Nevertheless, neurodiversity is something to be celebrated, and the majority of colleagues and workplaces are welcoming, supportive, and appreciative of the unique qualities you have to offer.