Working With ADHD: What It’s Like, And How To Support Your Neurodivergent Employees

Your Opinion
Published: 26.10.22

October marked ADHD Awareness Month. Now, you’ve probably already heard of ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), so you might be wondering why we need to raise awareness. Truthfully, there are many reasons – one of the most significant being that people living with ADHD are statistically more likely to experience difficulty in the workplace. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

As both a leading tech recruitment firm and an employer committed to making our workplace more accessible for neurodivergent employees, we thought we’d take this opportunity to shed some light on how you can create a positive environment for those living with ADHD. One of our Senior Recruitment Consultants here at Cathcart sat down with our office coordinator, Zoe Cobbett, to share their experience of navigating the office as a neurodivergent individual, along with some steps you as an organisation can take…

Working with ADHD

First and foremost, ADHD exists on a spectrum, which means that it’s common for symptoms to present in different ways for different people. For instance, where one person may be hyperactive and struggle to sit still, another may be quietly inattentive. As a result, what may present a trigger for someone may be manageable for someone else – and vice versa.

Likewise, people tend to view ADHD as general restlessness and hyperactivity, but it’s actually more complex. Sensory overload can cause you to become over-responsive to your surroundings – with things such as bright lights, loud sounds, and certain physical sensations all resulting in sensory processing issues. In fact, living with ADHD can feel equal parts like being on a rollercoaster and drifting through a heavy fog – and that’s why support and understanding in the workplace is invaluable.

Speaking from my own personal experience, I’ve discovered that I’m much more productive in the mornings, and I often find that I have a different work pattern than the average person. Assimilating new information and following instructions can be challenging, and I’ve realised that it’s always better to write things down; even the smallest of adjustments makes the biggest difference.

Advice for others working with ADHD

Devising an effective strategy to help you cope with certain workplace challenges can be hugely positive for your career success – not to mention your overall happiness. If you’re struggling to navigate the office from a neurodivergent perspective, my best advice would be to:

Break things down – Noting down the steps and components of each task makes them seem more manageable and keeps you organised.

Identify any challenges – By recognising where the blockers that are causing you difficulty lie, you can then figure out ways to overcome them.

Manage productivity – Being honest with yourself and your employer about when you are most productive at work means you can both make changes that allow you to utilise this time effectively.

How employers can support those with ADHD

There are also several measures that employers can put in place to support their neurodivergent employees – and to make the office a more appealing place to work for neurodivergent people in general. These include:

Meeting breaks Living with ADHD means it can be excruciating and tiring to sit for extended periods of time. If a long meeting is scheduled, implement breaks throughout and let employees know exactly when these breaks will occur.

Camera policy If a call is taking place, a neurodivergent employee may need to walk around due to restlessness. Allowing people to keep their cameras off during virtual meetings makes this easier.

Headphones Having a shorter attention span and being easily distracted are both common symptoms of ADHD. Letting neurodivergent employees wear earphones or headphones while they work serves to eliminate any background noise which they may otherwise find distracting.

Most importantly, remember that everyone is unique and no two neurodivergent individuals will experience symptoms in exactly the same way. One thing that’s truly been life-changing for me is having such a sensitive and open-minded team here at Cathcart. 

For more information on how to foster a work environment that sets your neurodivergent  employees up for success, you can request access to the ADHD UK Welfare Pack for employers here.

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