Productivity measures are excluding the best talent - here’s how you can fix it

Shabnum Hassim
Audit Trainee
May 27, 2024
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Let's work together to end discrimination against neurodivergent employees (Photo: Fauxels)

In the cutthroat world of corporate productivity, we're obsessed with optimizing efficiency.

And often, it is at the expense of human well-being. 

But what happens when we forget that our most talented employees are neurodiverse individuals, forced to navigate rigid standards that stifle their creativity and crush their morale? 

It's like trying to cram a square peg into a round hole and then wondering: " Why is it not working?" 

Understanding ADHD

According to the US National Institutes of Health, ADHD affects 3.5% of workers.

 Many traditional productivity measures in the workplace fail to account for the needs of individuals with mental illnesses.

It's a symptom of a broader problem: managers who need to be more knowledgeable about neurodiversity, and its impact on the workforce.

Overall, there is a lack the resources to accommodate people with ADHD, autism, and other neurodevelopmental conditions. 

The Problem

What's even more egregious is that many managers are not only unaware of neurodiversity, but they also actively discriminate against employees who are different. 

They see neurodiverse individuals as "flawed" or "broken" and try to "fix" them by forcing them to conform to arbitrary standards. It's like they're trying to erase their unique perspectives and talents from the face of the earth.

We need to reimagine what productivity looks like (Photo: Tara Winstead()

And it's not just about the individual employees affected by this discrimination. 

Creating a culture that celebrates conformity over diversity creates a toxic work environment that erodes employee trust and morale. 

The message sent is that neurodiverse individuals are not necessary, nor are their needs up for consideration. 

Masking your illness

With no accommodations and little awareness, people with mental illness often turn to masking. In other words, finding ways to hide mental illness from those around them. 

Individuals with ADHD identify what is socially acceptable behaviour and adjust themselves accordingly. 

Often at the expense of their health, neurodivergent bend to the will of a society created without ADHD in mind. 

So, what's the solution?

It's time for managers to ditch their outdated notions of productivity and start embracing neurodiversity as a strength.

There are solutions for a world that includes all kinds of people. (Photo: Noorulabdeen Ahmad)

Here's what that looks like:

  • Open communication and collaboration: Encourage employees to discuss their unique needs and challenges without fear of judgment or reprisal.
  • Education and awareness: Train managers to understand neurodiversity and its impact on the workforce.
  • Inclusive policies and practices: Provide reasonable accommodations, such as flexible work schedules or designated quiet spaces, to support employees with ADHD and other neurodevelopmental conditions.
  • Zero tolerance for discrimination: Create a culture where employees feel safe and supported and where any form of discrimination is met with swift and severe consequences.
  • Look inward and at your own actions: confront your issues and the discrimination holding you back.
  • If you're not willing to make these changes, you're not willing to adapt to your workforce's changing needs.
    • And, you're not willing to recognize that your most talented employees are neurodiverse individuals who deserve respect, understanding, and accommodations. 

So, managers, listen up: it's time to evolve your thinking and embrace the richness of human cognition and experience. Your organization's future depends on it.