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How to support people with ADHD at work


October is ADHD awareness month, which makes it a perfect opportunity to address this topic given it’s often underrepresented in conversations about workplace wellbeing. ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) affects millions of people worldwide, including some within our own ROW community (including me!).

As champions of workplace wellbeing, we believe it’s vital to tackle the myths and stigma associated with ADHD, and other neurodiverse conditions, in order to foster more inclusive work environments where people can truly unleash their potential.

However, a recent survey conducted by ADHD New Zealand showed a striking statistic: approximately half of those living with ADHD choose not to disclose their condition to their managers.

At the heart of the issue lies a range of misconceptions and stereotypes that continue to perpetuate the stigma around ADHD. For many, the condition is often reduced to mere hyperactivity and restlessness in children, when in reality, ADHD is a complex neurological condition that affects individuals throughout their lives. It’s important to understand that ADHD manifests differently in each person, and it can present a wide array of challenges, including difficulties with attention, impulse control, and executive functions.

So, how can we reduce stigma and foster ADHD awareness in our organisations? Here are some great steps:

  • Educate: Consider sharing resources and organising informational sessions on ADHD to dispel myths and misconceptions. Check out our awesome podcast interview with ADHD advocate, coach, and facilitator Callum McKirdy for more ideas on raising awareness (better yet, share this interview with your team!).
  • Promote open communication: Encourage an environment where employees feel comfortable discussing their challenges, including ADHD. Upskilling leaders on how to have effective wellbeing conversations is a vital part of the puzzle here.
  • Reasonable accommodations: Work with managers to ensure that employees with ADHD have access to reasonable accommodations that help them perform at their best. These might include flexible schedules, noise-cancelling headphones, or task management tools. Access to support services such as coaching, or peer support groups can also be beneficial.

Lastly, with increased media attention on ADHD, we may find there are some people who dismiss it as a passing trend, the ‘latest thing’. In truth, for many adults receiving a long-awaited diagnosis, it is life-altering and can be accompanied by a range of emotions, from relief to grief, as individuals come to terms with the profound impact their condition has had and continues to have on their lives.

Our workplaces are better for the diverse talents and perspectives that each person brings. Harnessing and embracing neurodiversity is an important part of the journey.

Do you have ADHD or work with someone who does? What strategies help at work?
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