Five ways to support the wellbeing of your ADHD employees

ADHD is a neurodevelopmental condition associated with an approximately 30% developmental delay in executive functioning skills, including self-awareness, emotional regulation, impulsivity and motivation. These can result in significant challenges relating to the wellbeing of employees with ADHD in the workplace, especially without proper support in place.

This article originally appeared in the November/December issue of Startups Magazine. Click here to subscribe

By Leanne Maskell, an ADHD Coach and Director of ADHD Works

Leanne M ins

As ADHD is different for everybody, these challenges are likely to be specific to an individual, but may include symptoms such as procrastination, burnout, and Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria (extreme emotional pain as a result of real or perceived rejection.) These challenges are likely to be heightened by stress, such as that relating to the regular stigmatisation of ADHD in the national media at present.

With years-long waiting lists on the NHS for assessments and global shortages of ADHD medication, it’s never been more important for leaders to ensure proper support is in place for employees with ADHD. Such support may not only be legally required under the Equality Act, but is also vital to ensuring the overall wellbeing of employees who think differently, enabling them to reach their full potential at work.

Here are 5 ways leaders can support the wellbeing of their ADHD employees:

1. Make policies disability friendly

ADHD can qualify as a disability under the Equality Act 2010, which places a legal duty on employers and organisations to accommodate disabled people by making reasonable adjustments to remove or reduce substantial disadvantages that they may experience at work in comparison to their non-disabled peers.

As employees with ADHD may be unaware that they are disabled under the Equality Act, or that support is even available, ensure accessible policies are in place that break down concepts such as disability, neurodiversity, and reasonable adjustments.

If you have other policies or support available, such as an Employee Assistance Programme or mental health support such as Unmind, ensure this is appropriate for employees with ADHD who may need additional support, and signposted accordingly.

2. Provide ADHD training

Leaders can support the wellbeing of employees with ADHD by providing ADHD awareness training for employees, ensuring education is in place to combat myths and stigma around neurodiversity.

Such training, especially when it involves people with lived experience, can be highly validating for employees with ADHD, and provide important signposting to relevant support. It’s also extremely useful for their colleagues looking to provide tailored and effective support. For example, at ADHD Works, I often train employees on ADHD coaching skills, providing managers with unique techniques to harness the ‘interest[1]based nervous system’ associated with ADHD, effectively motivating employees.

3. Help ADHD employees apply for Access to Work

Access to Work (ATW) is a UK Government grant that can help fund support to help people with health conditions like ADHD to stay at work. Awards can cover things like ADHD coaching, administrative support, software, equipment, support with travel, awareness training, and more. At the time of writing, up to £65,000 is available per person, per year.

If an employer is unaware about ATW, they may not know how to support an employee looking to apply for the scheme. For example, if an employee asks their manager whose contact details they should put down to confirm their employment, they may not know.

An employer can simplify this process by centralising and documenting the processes in an accessible location, such as on an intranet. Encouraging and supporting employees to apply for ATW is sensible, as they will be able to access support above and beyond that which is legally required, supporting them to do their jobs to the very best of their abilities.

4. Create ADHD action plans

People with ADHD may experience challenges with self-awareness and communication, so being clear on expectations and responsibilities at work is very important. An ADHD Action Plan sets out the specific challenges an individual may experience because of their ADHD at work, alongside expectations required of them within the workplace, such as certain deliverables and projects.

Having reasonable adjustments and strategies written down in one place can be extremely helpful. For example, this could include the ability to work from home when an ADHD employee feels stressed without having to sign this off as sick leave, or having instructions given to them in a certain way. This means that everybody has a touch point and reminder in case things change, such as a new project with a new team or manager.

5. Ensure and encourage an open line of communication

Asking for help at work in relation to ADHD can feel highly vulnerable, but it can be extremely helpful for everybody, as employers aren’t mind readers! Managers should establish clearly defined and accessible lines of communication and trust for ADHD employees, ensuring a foundation of psychological safety at work.

This could include anonymous feedback lines, or systemised ones, such as regular 1:1 meetings where work (and workload!) can be reviewed to build confidence, ask questions, and receive feedback.

Fostering a collaborative and compassionate culture of support for ADHD employees at work is extremely important to adjust support and provide reassurance where needed. Although the wider issues surrounding ADHD may be extremely difficult to navigate, providing a supportive and psychologically safe workplace should feel easy for everybody.