In the first part of this series, I discussed challenges people with ADHD may face in the workplace. Here are some ways these employees can benefit your team and strategies to give them the support they need for success.
Benefits of Candidates with ADHD
Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, or CHADD, is a nonprofit organization serving people affected by ADHD. Although you might have hesitated previously to hire candidates with ADHD symptoms, according to CHADD, “You might not realize how they can be an asset in the workplace.” CHADD argues that “Employees with ADHD can be more curious, creative, imaginative, innovative and inventive. They tend to be out-of-the-box thinkers, with an approach that can be highly prized in the workplace.”
Employees with ADHD can be innovative in the workplace in the sense that they are often risk-takers and adventure-seekers. They are usually more willing to try things in their workplace that others haven’t been willing or haven’t thought to do. The energetic, fun, outgoing character and desire to look for new experiences in people with ADHD make them want to interact with new people and also start new programs and training that can help your organization grow.
Another positive of working with ADHD employees is that they tend to excel at doing work that interests and excites them. In addition, they often bring optimism to the workplace, work well under tight deadlines or pressure, and tend to be flexible and spontaneous.
How Can You Help Employees with ADHD Succeed in the Business World?
Taking the time to understand how ADHD impacts your employees and their job responsibilities can be rewarding, but it does require mindfulness. According to ADHD at Work, you must approach “these situations with empathy and working together to find strategies that help the employee navigate or work around these trouble spots.” This approach “can help the employee become productive and contribute the skills for which they were hired.”
Here are some general ways you can help your employees with ADHD succeed:
Look for an individual’s unique set of symptoms. Just as each presentation of ADHD is different in both symptoms and severity, one employee may struggle with planning and being prone to distraction and another with perfectionism and time insensitivity. As an employer, you must take time to observe patterns of how the employee’s ADHD symptoms affect daily performance and then implement systems tailored to that person’s individual needs.
Assign tasks based on strengths. When you play to your employee’s demonstrated strengths, work tasks and projects can be adapted to successfully improve their performance — and this is key in helping your employee succeed in the business world. You may even ask them to take an assessment to better understand their strengths. Then, focus on the employee’s strongest areas when assigning tasks or assessing the best manner to deliver feedback.
Consider flexible scheduling. Time insensitivity and tardiness are frequent problems individuals with ADHD struggle with throughout the day. According to research, “Mornings can be especially tough for individuals with ADHD because sleep issues often accompany ADHD, and some find they are most alert (and productive) late at night.”
Individuals with ADHD have a deficit in their ability to control attention, so these fluctuations are, unfortunately, more extreme for individuals with ADHD and not necessarily at typical times. You should work with your employee to set a schedule that works for them and their ADHD symptoms.
Assign a task buddy to help get work done. People with ADHD often struggle with getting started with the task at hand, as they may undergo a period of hyper-focus during planning. This fosters mental exhaustion and inability to get work done. Assigning a task buddy can be a great way to assist, as periodic check-ins provide the accountability needed to stay motivated and on track.
Although you may have previously shied away from neurodiverse talent pools, people with ADHD can be valuable additions to your team. By taking the time to understand their unique challenges and individual needs, you can give them the support they need to be successful in the workplace.