How to Attract, Onboard and Retain Neurodiverse Candidates

Posted May 21 2024 By Diane Smedley

Around one in seven people (around ten million) in the UK are neurodivergent. This includes people with autism, ADHD, Tourette Syndrome, dyslexia, dyspraxia and other neurological conditions or injuries. Statistics vary as to how many of these potential employees are in work – with the ONS suggesting it is as low as 22% for those with autism.

More than this, over 64% of neurodivergent candidates and employees fear discrimination in the workplace. In a statistic that almost mirrors this perfectly, the ONS states that many employers have “little” or no” understanding of neurodivergent conditions.

So, what can employers do to encourage millions of potential candidates to join the workforce? How can neurodiverse candidates feel welcomed and included at all stages of the hiring and onboarding process?

Here are some tips.


Job adverts – There are many ways in which you can make your job adverts more inclusive. For starters, have you considered the font they are in or the way they are presented? This can make a huge difference to dyslexic candidates. Are you using exclusory language surrounding soft skills? This could make a candidate think they will not be a good fit.

Interviews – Ask your candidates to disclose any accommodations they might need and then tailor your process to the individual. Interviews shouldn’t be a one size fits all process, anyway, but even more so to encourage neurodiverse talent. For example, a phone screening may not be conducive for a person with autism or a lengthy discussion without breaks may make a person with ADHD anxious. Be able to explain or rephrase questions or consider sending questions in advance.


Induction plans – Once you’ve committed to hire, ask your candidate what would work for them in terms of onboarding. Do they have to be on-site if there is lots of noise and bright lights? Do they need more regular breaks? Would a large team lunch fuel their anxiety? What font / colour would they like the text on their laptop set up with? The more questions you ask, the more welcoming you can be.


Accommodations – Beyond the initial induction plan, think about the longer-term accommodations you can make in order to retain your neurodivergent employee. Can they be fully remote? Are company social events really compulsory and are they inclusive? Are you making sure that, where possible, there are no last-minute major changes to routines and plans? Do you need to invest in different décor or furniture?

Neurodivergent workers have proven, time and again, that they are loyal, productive employees. They can present new ways of thinking or problem solving that may not appear apparent to others. There are competitive advantages that far outweigh a few changes in set up. Besides, creating a safe, more inclusive workplace that better reflects society around us can only be a good thing for everyone.

I recruit within the Scottish Drinks sector for roles across Scotland. More and more clients are speaking to me about neurodiversity in terms of hiring and retention. If you would like to speak to me about recruiting or creating a more inclusive hiring process, click here to drop me an email.


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