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  • Writer's pictureStephanie Scherle

ADHD at Work

From our October Newsletter

By Stephanie Scherle



This month is ADHD Awareness Month. In the UK, the incidence rate for ADHD is 5% for children and 2-3% for adults. This means that around 2.6 million people in the UK have ADHD. While conversations about ADHD have increased in the last few years, with popular social media platforms like TikTok being flooded with information about the topic, it is important to highlight how ADHD can impact employees' work and what employers can do to bring out the best in their ADHD employees.



What is ADHD?


ADHD is a neurodevelopmental condition affecting brain structure and neurotransmission. ADHD is thought to be caused by a complex mix of environmental and genetic factors, but is a strongly hereditary condition. ADHD is present from childhood, but an increasing number of adults are now being diagnosed with ADHD for the first time, having been ‘missed’ when they were younger and the condition was not as well understood as it is now.

ADHD has three core symptoms, which affect each individual with ADHD to different degrees:

Inattention:

  • Getting easily distracted

  • Difficulties with:

- Concentration, short-term and working memory

- Planning and getting started (activation)

- Organisation and losing things


Impulsiveness:

  • Acting/speaking in the spur of the moment without considering possible consequences

  • Difficulty controlling emotions


Hyperactivity:

  • Restlessness, need to tap or fidget

  • This is less pronounced in adults than in children



Strengths of Individuals with ADHD

  • Ability to hyperfocus on things they are interested in

  • Willingness to take risks

  • Spontaneous and flexible

  • Good in crisis

  • Creative ideas - they think outside the box

  • Relentless energy

  • Optimism

  • Motivated by short-term deadlines - working in sprints rather than marathons

  • An eye for detail



How Can Organisations Support Employees with ADHD?


ADHD, if its impact on the individual is significant, can be seen as a disability under the 2010 Equality Act – and therefore employers have a responsibility to protect (potential) employees from discrimination and harassment, and to make reasonable adjustments. But beyond the legal obligation to offer support, doing this will increase employees' job satisfaction and performance.

Ask Employees What They Need


Before diving into plans on what you could do to support your employees with ADHD, ask them what they actually need. Because each person is unique in how they are affected by ADHD, listen to their point of view.

Modify Your Work Environment

  • Provide opportunities for visual prompts: install wall charts and clocks, create checklists for tasks and provide post-it notes.

  • Encourage the use of alarms and timers

  • Allow headphones and earplugs

  • Give employees their own space or opportunities to withdraw to minimize distractions

Modify Working and Management Practices

  • Offer increased supervision, regular check-ins and feedback

  • Break down tasks into clear steps

  • Give instructions in writing rather than verbally

  • Allow for regular (stretching) breaks - also during long meetings

  • Consider flexible scheduling: many with ADHD struggle with concentration in the morning and adjusted working hours could help them reach their highest potential

  • Consider flexible deadlines where possible

Allow Useful Technology (examples linked below)

  • To-do list reminders, scheduling apps (e.g. Todoist)

  • Text-to-speech and speech-to-text software (e.g. Captivoice, Google Docs Voice Typing)

  • Blockers to minimize social media distraction (e.g. Cold Turkey)

  • White noise or ambient noise apps (e.g. Coffivity)

  • Note-taking apps (usually pre-installed on phones)

Give Employees Access to Coaching

  • Regular coaching can help employees develop and improve organisation and time management skills


Find Out Employee Strengths and Let Them Work on Projects That Fit Their Strength Profile

  • This suggestion is not only relevant for those with ADHD, but for all employees: assigning them tasks that fit their individual strengths can increase employee satisfaction and performance.


Examples of useful technology:







We can help you help your employees with ADHD, especially when it comes to coaching and assessing their strengths. To learn more, contact us at info@resilientworkforce.co.uk.



References



Helping Employees With ADHD Succeed (n.d.). ADDA. https://adhdatwork.add.org/help-adhd-employees-succeed/.


Lipman, V. (2012, October 2). How To Manage Employees With ADD/ADHD. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/victorlipman/2012/10/02/how-to-manage-employees-with-addadhd/?sh=5c63d8578c9b.


Scottish ADHD Coalition (2018). An Employer’s Guide to ADHD in the Workplace. https://www.scottishadhdcoalition.org/adhd-and-employment/.



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