How AI can revolutionise work for neurodivergent employees

Neurodivergent employees sometimes need support in the workplace to conduct tasks others may find easy. We explore how artificial intelligence can be used to improve productivity and promote a more inclusive, fair, and equitable working environment for all.

5 mins read
Getty Images 1418033291

11 Jul, 2024

​Neurodivergent challenges in the workplace

Around 15% to 20% of the global population is thought to be neurodivergent, i.e., their thinking works differently to what society expects. This term refers to people with autism, ADHD, dyslexia, dyspraxia, dyscalculia, Tourette’s syndrome, or chronic mental health conditions, such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

Promoting neurodiversity and inclusion has proven business benefits, and it’s an employer’s responsibility to provide a workplace where the wellbeing of all employees is considered and accommodated.

Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses, but the needs of neurodivergent people might differ from those of neurotypical individuals and can often be overlooked. Tasks that seem easy to others may be a struggle for neurodivergent people. Conversely, their strengths might far surpass those of neurotypical people.

Challenges neurodivergent people face usually relate to communication and professional relationships. For example, people with ADHD can struggle to stay focused in meetings or take longer to process information. And people with dyslexia may struggle with written communication and could misunderstand instructions written in emails. There are also many people who are unable to communicate with spoken words, such as non-verbal autistic people, those who are physically mute, or deaf people who find it difficult to speak aloud.

AI as a reasonable adjustment

Just as you would add a ramp to your workplace for disabled people to allow equal access to a physical building, employers must also make reasonable adjustments for neurodivergent people to have an equal chance of navigating neurotypical workplaces.

Employers with outdated systems may not be utilising technology that could vastly improve their workforce’s productivity.

Artificial intelligence (AI) has developed a lot in recent years, to the point where it is all around us. Today, it exists on almost every new phone, computer, and TV. AI already in use in the workplace includes:

  • Facial recognition for security

  • Text-to-speech software in word processors and browsers

  • Dictation software and voice assistants such as Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant

  • Scheduling assistants within most digital calendars and to-do lists

  • Automated workflows

  • ChatGPT and other chatbots

  • Automatic transcription, and closed caption creation

  • Google Lens automatic translation and image searching

For most people, AI is simply an extra convenience, but much of it is proving essential to people with certain disabilities or neurological differences to help them complete their work to a similar standard as neurotypical people – i.e., those whose minds work as society expects.

Most AI is free and easy to implement into workplace systems and just requires employers to unblock the technology or allow its installation for those who need it. It would also create a more inclusive standard working practice to normalise the use of such tech in all meetings and other forms of communication.

Normalising digital accessibility

Making it standard practice to use certain accessibility tools, like autogenerated closed captions on video communications, for example, is a small way to show consideration for those with invisible disabilities and neurological difference. They don’t take much effort but can have a hugely positive impact on individual employees.

Another way might be regularly recording meetings and allowing participants to access AI generated transcripts. Other tools that should be encouraged include text-to-speech AI software on webpages or on-screen text. This can also be useful for face-to-face communication between colleagues, where one person struggles to communicate aloud.

Normalising these processes could be a game changer for those who need them but feel uncomfortable asking, especially if they are the only one who needs the accommodation. Neurological difference is still not widely understood, and those in need of these adjustments won’t necessarily know they need them until they use them and see a positive difference.

Those who struggle with written communication can integrate software like Grammarly into their systems and use voice assistants to help them complete certain tasks. We use these tools every day, but some employers may not provide them on company computers. External websites and browser add-ons like these tend to be blocked for security reasons within companies, but employers should consider allowing accessibility, where possible, for those who need it.

The future of AI systems at work

AI is already revolutionising the workplace for those who need additional support to unlock their most productive selves, and ongoing technological developments will soon see AI further integrated into our everyday working lives.

There has been a huge buzz around the latest piece of AI, ChatGPT, a chatbot that uses machine learning and data from across the internet, to answer users’ questions as if it were a real person. Microsoft has recently bought Open AI, the platform that developed the technology, and has plans to introduce a new AI assistant, 'Copilot' which would integrate into all its existing products. Instead of writing code to command it to complete tasks, users will be able to make requests in plain English.

There will always be a need for professionals in any industry. All the way back to the printing press or the production line, professionals feared technology would make us redundant. However, the technology we have developed so far has only led humans to advance. It has removed the burden of monotonous tasks to allow us instead to take on more creative, innovative, and interesting work.

As Reed has found since implementing our digital workplace systems, promoting the use of technology such as AI into a business inspires greater productivity and morale among employees. Those with invisible disabilities and neurological differences will feel especially grateful to employers for creating a supportive and inclusive environment where using AI is encouraged and assistive technology is normalised and available to all who might need it.

To find a talented professional to join your company, or take the next step in your career, contact your nearest Reed office.

You may also be interested in

Tackling hiring fraud guidance – free download
3 mins read

Tackling hiring fraud guidance – free download

Hiring fraud is an insidious practice that undermines trust and poses significant financial and reputational risks for businesses. As employers strive to find the right talent, they must remain vigilant against fraudulent activities that can tarnish their operations and brand integrity.

Hiring fraud manifests in various forms, from falsified credentials and fabricated work histories to identity theft and impersonation. These tactics often deceive even the most astute recruiters, leading to the unwitting employment of unqualified or dishonest individuals. The consequences can be dire, ranging from decreased productivity and morale to legal liabilities and damage to company reputation.

Detecting fraudulent applications has become increasingly challenging. However, employers can use several strategies to safeguard their recruitment processes.

Most recently, Reed has contributed to the first guidance of its kind to help organisations protect their recruitment practices. ‘Tackling hiring fraud: the response to a growing problem’ serves as a frontline tool in the battle against fraudulent hiring activity.

Steps to a secure hiring process

The guide, fronted by the Better Hiring Institute, identifies nine types of fraudulent activity: reference fraud, qualification fraud, fake application documents, CV-based fraud, employment scams, manipulation of artificial intelligence, dual employment, immigration fraud and fraud as a result of recruitment agency usage. Each is addressed in detail with case studies and expert guidance on prevention.

As a rule, thorough background checks are indispensable. Employers should verify the authenticity of educational qualifications, professional certifications, and employment histories provided by candidates. Utilising reputable background screening services, such as Reed Screening, can help uncover discrepancies and ensure that prospective hires possess the credentials they claim.

Identity verification measures are essential. Adopting biometric authentication or identity verification technologies will help, reducing the likelihood of impersonation and identity theft.

Stringent interview processes can also serve as a deterrent against fraudulent candidates. Conducting multiple rounds of interviews, including in-person assessments, and soliciting detailed responses can identify genuine candidates from impostors.

Technology can automate and streamline recruitment processes. Candidate tracking systems equipped with fraud detection algorithms can flag irregularities in applications, adding a further layer of protection.

It can also help to raise awareness of hiring fraud with your employees – encouraging them to report suspicious activities and provide avenues for whistleblowing. Providing guidance on how to spot red flags can have a ripple effect, protecting both the business and employees from falling victim to fraud in their career.

Protect your business with our hiring fraud guidance – free download

Technology has enabled criminals to take advantage of traditional recruitment processes, and organisations must adapt if they are to avoid CV fraud, employment scams, manipulation of AI tools and many more tactics.

Reed Screening, together with Better Hiring Institute and other partners, have defined hiring fraud as any fraud committed during the hiring process, which may be committed by an individual against an organisation, or by an entity against a jobseeker.

This comprehensive guide, ‘Tackling hiring fraud: the response to a growing problem’, identifies how employers can protect their organisations, using expert advice on how to prevent the most common criminal activity.

"Employers should be very worried about hiring fraud. At Reed Screening, we have made huge progress over the last few years in making hiring faster globally, including being referenced by UK government for our work on digital right to work. However, with the development of technology and improvements in the speed of hiring, we have seen an acceleration and amplification of fraud."

Keith Rosser
Director of Group Risk & Reed Screening – Reed

The new Better Hiring Institute free guide on tackling hiring fraud, co-written by Reed Screening and Cifas, contains a really useful checklist for HRDs (human resources directors) and CPOs (chief people officers) to use to ensure the company they represent has all the right defences in place.

Download our free hiring fraud guidance to help safeguard your organisation using the button at the top of this page.

Hiring fraud: how to safeguard your organisation
6 mins read
  1. Article

Hiring fraud: how to safeguard your organisation

​To combat the rising tide of hiring fraud, Reed Screening recently joined forces with the Better Hiring Institute and fraud prevention experts Cifas and ST Smith, to launch guidance for employers. This free, comprehensive eBook is now available to download and provides the latest insight into the gravity and scale of threat facing organisations today.

Complete with case studies highlighting common criminal activity, such as resume fraud and employment scams, the guidance offers solutions to counter these tech-based crimes, helping to protect your recruitment teams from falling victim to imposters and impersonators.

We spoke to Keith Rosser, Director of Group Risk & Reed Screening – Reed, about the new guide, Tackling hiring fraud: the response to a growing problem.