Most people are described as neurotypical. This means their brain functions according to society norms. However, 15% of the UK population (or 1 in 7 of us) are estimated to have brain function classified as neurodivergent, meaning the brain functions differently and has diverse ways of processing information, thinking, learning and behaving.
Neurodivergent traits are present from birth and develop in childhood and adolescence. But conditions can also be acquired throughout one’s life as a result of stroke, tumour or other brain-altering experiences.
Neurodiverse conditions such as dyslexia, autism, dyspraxia and ADHD, to name a few, are more commonly recognised and understood in today’s society. However, our workplace is typically set up for neurotypical ways of thinking and doing, so neurodivergent employees often spend a lot of time trying to adjust their work environment to suit their needs. This can hinder their contribution and undermine their confidence as well as lose the business valuable productivity.
Data suggests that neurodivergent employees can increase the productivity of a company by nearly as much as 50%*, resulting in increased profits and customer satisfaction. Innovation increases and problems are solved quickly and more effectively.
By understanding the strengths of a neurodivergent workforce and accommodating their needs, companies can strengthen their workforce with out-of-the-box thinking, creative solutions, and more.
Here are some examples of how neurodivergent individuals can contribute to productivity and creativity.
Dyslexics are more likely to think in images and are skilled in visual processing so they can consider objects from numerous angles. They have the ability to see the big picture making it easier for them to spot patterns and data trends. Their ability to think outside the box allows them to excel at problem-solving as they can discover connections that others may miss. They can also be original thinkers and inventors, bringing together information and resources from different disciplines.
People with autism have the ability to focus intensely on a given task, especially if they have a special interest in the subject, demonstrating superb attention to detail. They excel in a structured environment and their love of routine means that they are extremely reliable and punctual. Their ability to approach problems differently and their logical, straightforward thinking can help improve processes and increase productivity.
So how can employers best accommodate neurodiversity in the workplace and enable neurodivergents to excel and perform to the best of their ability?
Provide the right tools for staff to do their job. Understand the needs of your employees, consider the range of support available and match them according to their needs. Ask what they reasonably feel they need to help them work more efficiently.
For example, noise-cancelling headphones for employees with autism or ADHD, to avoid distracting or confusing noises.
Assistive technology features such as screen filters can help employees who are sensitive to the intensity or frequency of light.
Text to speech tools can help dyslexics process information more effectively through audio.
Time-management software containing calendars, planners and alerts can help people with autism or ADHD to plan daily activities, manage their time more effectively, and support any memory challenges.
Instant messaging such as Google Hangouts may be a more motivating tool for communicating with colleagues.
Mind mapping software facilitates the understanding of concepts by breaking them down into their component parts. It enables the visual development and organisation of ideas and information making it easier to see how information fits together. This tool can help employees with dyslexia to more readily understand concepts and scenarios and contribute valuable ideas and suggestions.
The leadership team play a key role in championing and promoting diversity in the workplace by supporting an inclusive working environment and educating their teams. Win their support by preparing and presenting a clear business case, providing a clear statement of the business requirements and potential solution, the consequences resulting from specific actions and metrics for the proposed solution.
As well as support from the top, educate and train all staff on neurodiversity awareness. Accredited training can help line managers to spot any potential barriers to diverse ways of working, identify employees that may be experiencing challenges and provide neurotypical employees with the knowledge and confidence to offer support where necessary.
Educating employees about neurodiversity can also help to remove any preconceptions and encourage teams to adapt so that the specialist talents of neurodivergent employees can flourish.
Appoint DI&E Champions at all levels across the organisation. Champions are the visible role models for inclusion and take action to ensure that objectives are achieved. Their passion and knowledge on the strengths and benefits of neurodiversity can drive change and influence – sometimes helping with business cases by reporting successes and giving feedback on a regular basis. Provide them with the necessary training and support to equip them with the skills required to achieve an inclusive culture
Finally, create a more inclusive working environment with a few simple changes that can make the biggest impact for neurodivergent employees.
For example, provide flexible working hours that allow them to arrive earlier and leave earlier, avoiding large groups of people and making travelling and/or parking less stressful. An early start can also mean they benefit from quiet time to focus on tasks without the usual daily office distractions.
Working from home allows them to work in their own quiet and familiar space. This can be beneficial when completing tasks that could cause anxiety in a busy workplace, for example, preparing for and practicing delivering a presentation.
Provide ‘thinking spaces’ for quiet contemplation. Noise and distractions can be counterproductive for neurotypical employees at the best of times, and this can be significantly worse for neurodivergent individuals. Quiet areas provide a sanctuary from the busy open plan office, enabling them to concentrate and focus on getting the job done.
Desk location should also be considered. Some individuals may prefer to be located in a corner – away from visual and audio distractions.
Ultimately, what underpins the success of all these measures is a workplace culture that considers individual needs and has the capacity to meet them.
This month: ‘How do I improve staff retention and ensure my team is stable? Recently, I have lost two members of staff and it will take me a long time to recruit and train new team members.
Losing a member of staff is always painful and has a significant impact on team performance and the morale of the remaining team members. When an individual chooses to leave their role, it is natural for their colleagues to feel unsettled and to question their own position within the organisation.
They are also likely to be asked to pick up extra work while a replacement is found and then take responsibility for training and mentoring the new recruit. The whole episode puts immense pressure on the entire team and can have a damaging effect on service delivery. When the Covid pandemic first hit us, many of us suspected that one of the negative outcomes would be high unemployment. But we were wrong and the opposite appears to be true. The majority of jobs survived the end of the Government furlough scheme and the fear of a huge spike in unemployment has not materialised.
Record number of vacancies Vacancies are now at a record high, with some newspapers reporting 1.2m vacancies and a shortage of skilled workers, which is having a drastic impact in many industry sectors, including the healthcare and care sectors. One recruitment specialist has reported ‘fierce competition for talent’ and there are reports of graduate lawyers being offered starting salaries of £150,000 and signing-on bonuses by employers desperate to compete in this shortage market. In general, though, average pay rises are not keeping up with the increase in the cost of living, and while wages are rising, they are not rising as fast as prices. This will lead to more people searching for a new role purely for better remuneration. Currently, it is so much harder to recruit due to a shortage of available candidates and so replacing staff is much harder and more time-consuming. Retention of key staff is vital to protect our organisations in the current climate.
How do we ensure we retain our employees? Most managers assume that salary is the major motivator for their employees. While salary is important, especially with the rising cost of living, for many people there are other more significant factors. Many employees are more highly motivated by other factors such as flexibility, culture, career development opportunities, geographical location and their relationship with their direct manager.The pandemic has led to many people thinking about what they want from their working lives with a new perspective. They have been reminded that life is short, and they want to make the most of their time, both at work and in their social lives. Many are burnt out by the pandemic and desperately in need of a break to regroup and recover. Most have taken fewer holidays over the last couple of years and this has had a cumulative effect on exhaustion. The well-being of employees should be a major concern for all employers. The recruitment firm Randstad UK says that, in a typical year, 11% of workers would move roles, but its recent research in a survey of 6,000 workers found that 69% of those surveyed were feeling confident about moving to a new role in the next six months.
The Great Resignation
This trend is often referred to by the press as ‘The Great Resignation’ and is going to be hard for industries like healthcare, where the prediction is that some employees are looking to leave the sector completely, resulting in a reduced pool of available workers. If you have had resignations within your organisation, one valuable way to learn why your employees are unhappy is to hold exit interviews with employees before they leave. An exit interview should be hosted by an individual who is not directly working with the employee so that the meeting can be credibly viewed as confidential to encourage honesty and transparency. The interview offers an opportunity for the employee to express their reasons for leaving and to suggest ways in which the organisation can improve to retain valuable workers in the future. A similar approach should also be adopted with all employees to understand what motivates them most about their work, what they are happy about currently and where your organisation is able to improve. Asking questions like what additional support would benefit them will give you valuable insight into options to improve. An HR expert will wisely advise you to create the Employment Value Proposition (EVP) for your organisation, to help you with the retention of employees and the recruitment of new team members.
As business owners, we spend much time thinking about patients and clients and how we want them to perceive our organisation, but, to create an EVP, we need to think about our organisation through the eyes of our employees. An EVP states what employees receive in return for the talent, enthusiasm, loyalty and contribution they deliver to our organisations. Your EVP will give you a competitive advantage in retaining your employees and attracting the best employees to join your organisation. This is especially relevant to organisations that do not have the budget to compete with the remuneration offered by larger competitors. You can promote other unique qualities that differentiate your business from your competitors, thus attracting the right talent.
An EVP should provide incentives that reward hard work and create a supportive, inclusive working environment. Start by identifying all the benefits of working at your company and the unique strengths of the organisation versus its competitors in terms of remuneration, working environment, career progression, learning and development and culture. This could be done as a team exercise at a workshop-style meeting or through the use of a simple questionnaire sent to all employees. Covid has changed the face of the working environment and more companies are adopting a hybrid working solution. Where this is not possible – for example, in many healthcare settings – businesses are providing more flexible working solutions such as job sharing and condensed hours to attract target audiences who value flexibility and a healthier work-life balance. Opportunities for career progression are also an attractive proposition for high potential individuals who are looking for challenge and growth. Many employers like to showcase success stories of people who have risen through the ranks and who have been encouraged and supported throughout their career journey from entry-level positions to senior-level roles.
Examining the company’s policies on training, performance development and promotions will give clarity on the company’s attitude towards career progression and growth and how the company supports this by providing opportunities for learning and development and rewarding good performance management and development practices. The culture reflects everything from human, social and even political issues. Identifying with the corporate culture can help candidates determine whether or not their values and beliefs are aligned with those of the company. If candidates share the same beliefs, attitudes, and behaviours as those identified by the company, this gives them some reassurance of a harmonious working environment which could lead to a longer-term working relationship. Other benefits can also cover aspects such as financial strength and constant growth, unique services and a strong commercial footing, and reassuring candidates in terms of security, stability and longevity. In each stage of the EVP definition process, consider how the company fares against its competitors in terms of remuneration, working environment, culture, and career progression. This will help to establish the company’s unique selling points against the competition and promote aspects that are more generous or attractive than your competitors. Creating your EVP will help you identify areas where you need to improve in your organisation and this will lead to increased employee retention. According to research from Gartner: ‘Organisations that effectively deliver on their EVP can decrease annual employee turnover by just under 70% and increase new hire commitment by nearly 30%.’
How to set up your PHIN profile. A step-by-step guide.
Last month we posted an article in relation to PHIN, and the importance of having a profile and keeping it up to date.
We sat down with Jonathan Evans Communications and External Affairs Manager, Private Healthcare Information Network(PHIN), to ask him why private practitioners should be part of their network.
For those of you who may not be familiar with PHIN, it is an independent, government-mandated source of information about private healthcare. The principle behind the network is to ‘empower patients to make better-informed choices when choosing private treatment.’
If you have not yet read our first article ‘Is your PHIN profile accurate’ we recommend doing so before continuing with this article.
When we posted the article we received many messages about the set-up process so thought it would be worth creating a follow up to take you through it step-by-step.
The CMA Order 2014 requires private healthcare facilities in the UK to submit private activity data to PHIN. Consultants are invited to review and verify the data submitted by facilities about their practice via the PHIN Consultant Portal.
Following some helpful feedback from consultants, PHIN has made some changes to the Portal, making the login journey easier. To access the new Portal you will need to activate your account, even if you have logged in before. An email will be sent to your GMC registered email address inviting you to activate your Portal account.
To demonstrate activating your account before signing in, there are steps below to help.
The first step is to visit the Portal:
https://portal.phin.org.uk/ and click ‘activate your account’ under the sign-in button.
Follow the steps on the screen to activate your account.
To confirm you are the owner of the email address that you are using, request a security code by entering the email address you have registered with the GMC and select ‘Request security code’. This will arrive in your inbox shortly.
The security code you receive will be sent from a Microsoft account on behalf of PHIN. You will need to use the 6 digit code to verify that you are the owner of the email address.
Enter the security code and click ‘submit code’.
Your email address will then be successfully verified and you will be asked to create a new password.
Please follow the on-screen guidance to create your password and include both upper and lower case letters, digits and symbols to generate a strong password.
Once you’ve created a new password, click ‘Create’. You should then be able to log in to the PHIN Portal.
So there you have it. Your step by step process to accessing and setting up your PHIN profile. PHIN is a legal requirement for all consultants in the UK, but we asked Jonathan what else would he add to the standard information available on PHIN, especially to new consultants entering private healthcare. He told us:
‘Engaging with PHIN is really important. Not only is it a legal requirement to engage with PHIN to submit fee information but reviewing your data and signing it off for publication is crucial and, when consultants have done that, many of them tell us that it is a very valuable resource.
Following the Paterson Inquiry and greater collaboration between the NHS and private sector through the Covid-19 pandemic, there is a big push for greater transparency, and it is unlikely that private healthcare will ever go back to the days of old. People considering private treatment are consumers and they act like consumers.
Greater transparency about what work consultants and hospitals undertake, and the outcomes (i.e. the benefit to patients), is now an expectation.
PHIN is not only a great place to market yourself, but it is also a place where you can view your whole practice data. This can help with whole practice appraisal and revalidation, but many consultants also find this helpful for understanding the care they provide in relation to others.’
Our team at Designated Medical are available to support you with delivering the PHIN criteria. Please don’t hesitate to get in contact with your Medical PA or Designated team to find out more: firstname.lastname@example.org