Do you have an ADHD-friendly work environment and management?
|1.||Can you be trusted by your employee for the disclosure of his/her ADHD?|
|2.||Are you aware of the professional needs of your neurodiverse employees? – Boss: Is there anything that I’m doing or that anyone else is doing here at work that’s interfering with your success?|
|3.||Are you incorporating reasonable accommodations (flexible work style/role innovation/closer supervision/reward systems) to create a positive and productive work environment for your neurodiverse employees?|
|4.||If not, do you think the only solution would be to replace your neurodiverse employee with a neurotypical?|
|5.||Have you taken or are you willing to take professional trainings for tackling talented but sometimes difficult employees?|
|6.||Do you figure out your employees’ strengths and form a strength-based approach?|
|7.||Do you foster a work culture of compliments more than that of complaints?|
|8.||Would you be open to personally work on the integration of diversity besides having personal sympathy and/or professionally capitalizing on the neuro-developmental disorders?|
|9.||Do you truly believe that organizational problems of your neurodiverse employees are the outcomes of ADHD and not the grounds for firing them?|
|10.||With neurodiverse people in your workplace, do you offer training/coaching to support their skills and for the organization to create an inclusive culture?|
|11.||Can you recognize ADHD (or other diversity) in your workplace?|
|12.||Most importantly, are you inclined towards being an ADHD-friendly employer and manager?|
“I did see my job at risk but could not change anything”
– A freelancer (late thirties), worked for an e-commerce and cloud computing company, double Master’s degrees holder and with ADHD
“I don’t remember failing the deadlines. How? I had to work overtime and give up on my personal interests. The projects I was allocated did not fit my strengths. I wouldn’t say dealing with customers is my biggest strength. Further adding to my misery, I was made responsible for overseas clients which played havoc with my sleep cycle. My continuous requests for switching the duties and departments were never well received. Instead, I came across as a demanding, an arrogant and inflexible person.
I thought I had made a few friends at work but nobody wants to hang out with the boss’ not-so-favorite person. I was given a three-month termination period; I could not utilize it to find myself another job, as I was looping within the company’s projects. It was followed by a stretch of depression, and multiple but feeble psychotherapy sessions.
This was not my first job. I indeed have a 7 year experience (starting in my late twenties) in one of the richest and best known Information Technology multinationals. Looking back, I spent most of my professional life stuck in the office for hours with my laptop, could never actually build networks, and had the uncountable guilt trips of cancelling on friends and family.
How do people with ADHD even get closer to managing both personal and professional life? I am now trying to make a living as a freelancer. It has been two years since that full-time job, but the downers don’t let me re-enter the corporate sector or raise a family of my own. I feel I had wrongly prioritized my entire life by putting the professional part first. I have lost a lifetime.”
“I did not even see it coming!”
– A dietitian (late thirties), parent, worked in academia and with ADHD.
“As an independent professional, I had been doing well. Why I switched to an academic position? I think of myself as a cheerful and people’s person. The idea of working in academic teams was quite fulfilling. I am so intrigued by nearly everything I am a part of.
With a mind full of too many and rational ideas, I can sometimes be challenging for others to work with. I finish the assignments, but with delays; thanks to the perfectionist within me. I spend too much time on perfecting things that at the end everybody is just relieved to get it submitted rather than appreciating the quality. I wish I could “just do it” rather than “doing it right”, and direct my creativity and research habits into the truly rewarding tasks.
At first, everyone seemed to like my company but things suddenly changed one day! My job dismissal – with an immediate effect jolted me. I had naively thought the boss would probably be more supportive after knowing my ADHD and where I was struggling. I loved my work that I was originally hired for but the unsaid overwhelming paperwork!
I have always been a bit clumsy, or much clumsier than the average person. People notice my ineptness, but not the frustration I internalize in those situations, like re-doing documents just because I lost track of originals, or re-booking flights that incur me hefty losses.
Struggling professionally, financially to support myself and kids, I now feel like a juggler.”
And what do the employers come up with for firing the ADHD employees?
Their same old EXCUSES – Late for meetings! Late for handing in submissions! Unrealistic ideas! “Off track”! Does not sync with the team members! Impulsive!
How come the employers, mostly neurotypical, fail to reminisce these self-explanatory facts (and still considered as sharper and more capable): Neurodiverse individuals see things differently. They have differences in their time perception. – Why-I’m-always-late-but-wait-
Everyone procrastinates to some extent, misses deadlines once in a while and may prefer to complete interesting tasks sooner than the boring ones. But individuals with ADHD have troubles hiding their preference of tasks, as the tasks they don’t connect to may keep getting delayed or never get done! When they do ask for job accommodations, it might lack the art of persuasion.
Neurodiverse people are certainly not aware of the clever tactic of “under promising and over delivering”! In fact, they usually commit to the opposite and live their nightmares.
But we can’t be “lazy” – WE’VE GOT DEADLINES! (Employers’ favorite)
“Note to managers: Just because someone takes longer to get things done, doesn’t mean the work won’t be of high quality. One ADHD employee I managed in my own career was positively brilliant – no other word for it. He was enormously valuable to our company. Deadline accommodations sometimes had to be made, but they were invariably worth it.” – Victor Lipman
Fun fact: Historically, the 'deadline' was the line around a prison beyond which prisoners were eligible for shooting. In keeping with shifts in the exercise of control, what one was delineated spatially over life is now enforced temporarily over labor. -CrimethInc., Contradictionary
Do We Have A Solution? YES!
Training the managers or team leaders to leverage their staff’s strengths.
A checklist for employers and for a reasonable work environment
Every employee will benefit, but the ADHD employees with benefit the most.
Did you know: Potential-benefits-of-having-an-ADHD-employee and more Benefits-of-ADHD
So, who is lacking the skills – employees with ADHD or the employers and managers?
“ADHD people who are good enough to be hired should NOT be fired.”
Disorders or Different Personalities? Fun task: Identifying the co-workers
 P. Babcock, “Understanding the Impact of Employees with ADHD in the Workplace,” Society For Human Resource Managemnent, 2009. [Online]. Available: https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/behavioral-competencies/global-and-cultural-effectiveness/pages/understandingadhd.aspx. [Accessed: 19-Feb-2018].
 V. Lipman, “How To Manage Employees With ADD/ADHD,” Forbes, 2012. [Online]. Available: https://www.forbes.com/sites/victorlipman/2012/10/02/how-to-manage-employees-with-addadhd/#28d1a0cb78c9. [Accessed: 19-Feb-2018].
 “Strengths-Based Approach to Managing ADHD @ Work | ADHD At Work,” Attention Deficit Disorder Association. [Online]. Available: https://adhdatwork.add.org/strength-based-adhd-management/. [Accessed: 19-Feb-2018].
 V. Lipman, “2 Valuable Tips To Help Manage Employees With ADHD,” Forbes, 2017. [Online]. Available: https://www.forbes.com/sites/victorlipman/2017/05/19/2-valuable-tips-to-help-manage-employees-with-adhd/#2859702eed67. [Accessed: 19-Feb-2018].
 R. Robbins, “The untapped potential of the ADHD employee in the workplace,” Cogent Bus. Manag., vol. 4, no. 1, pp. 1–11, 2017.
 K. DuPont, “Handling Diversity in the Workplace,” Handl. Divers. Work. Commun. is Key, 1999.
One thought on “Are you an ADHD-friendly employer?”
Congratulations Anu, for this wonderful post. This is a much plaid but often overlooked problem. It is often believed that all that people with ADHD have to do is taking medications in order to fit into the system. However, medications are often not solving the problems. They are not a panacea and cannot replace awareness that including neuroatypical-performing employees can bring strength to an organization, much more than inconvenience.