ADHD at work

ADHD Awareness Month 2019

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Health Assured team

20 September 2019

There are so many different health situations you may face in the workplace. But as an employer, you need to put your staff–and their conditions– first.

ADHD (or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) is a common mental health condition diagnosed in adults. And symptoms and conditions can range from mild to severe.

Whatever level of ADHD an employee has, you hold a legal and moral duty of care for them. Failing to provide support can lead to detrimental consequences for your business, productivity, and reputation. 

In this guide, we'll look at what ADHD is, what the symptoms are, and how to manage employees suffering from the condition during work.

What is ADHD?

ADHD stands for 'attention deficit hyperactivity disorder’. This condition affects the way people receive messages around the brain and how each compartment runs.

People with ADHD can experience numerous variations of the condition. But in the end, the causes come from a mixture of biological, environmental, and genetic factors.

More often, ADHD affects younger people. However, adults with ADHD are just as common–especially in the workplace.

(ADHD is a mental health condition found in children, as well as adults.)

What are the symptoms of ADHD?

Many adults with ADHD often show three symptoms: inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsive behavior. Here are characteristics of each symptom:


  • Low focus and concentration levels.
  • Having poor memory.
  • Difficulty managing complex projects.
  • Easily distracted or bored.
  • Lack of time management skills.


  • Feeling restlessness.
  • Constantly tapping or fidgeting.
  • Excessive talking or poor communication skills.


  • Mood instability.
  • Reckless behaviours.
  • Act or speak without thinking.

Other ADHD symptoms

There are other ADHD symptoms which typically revolve around sensory conditions and mood disorders like:

There is another variant of ADHD which is called attention deficit disorder (ADD). This is considered a milder form of the condition. Here, adults face difficulties with concentration, but don’t appear to show hyperactivity or impulsiveness.

(Adult ADHD is a common mental health problem found in the workplace).

Why is it important to manage ADHD at work?

Having good mental wellbeing is extremely beneficial for both your employees and your business.

When it comes to ADHD, it’s so important to show employees respect and support. You can demonstrate the importance of managing their health condition by:

  • Creating a safe and healthy work environment.
  • Protecting them from mental health stigmas.
  • Presenting workplace changes which help them focus on the job at hand.

Unfortunately, too many ADHD employees feel undervalued and ignored–and end up suffering alone.

Employees will make frequent job changes to cope with their conditions. Untreated ADHD leads to facing difficulties in submitting work, constantly losing attention span, and mis-managing time for large projects and tasks.

If you fail to focus on support, you both become affected. In the end, your business faces a loss in production, high absenteeism, and increased retention.

What are the UK laws on managing ADHD?

In the UK, there is no specific act or law which outlines managing people with ADHD. However, there are legislations which are relevant, if the right conditions are met.


In some cases, people might find their lives are fully (or partially) dictated by their ADHD. When a health condition has significant impacts on a person’s daily life, it may class as a disability.

The legal requirements for disabilities are found in the Equality Act 2010. Here, an employee’s condition must:

  • Have a ‘substantial adverse effect’ on their daily life.
  • Last at least 12 months (or is expected to).
  • Influence their ability to do normal activities.


Under the same act, you have a legal obligation to eliminate discrimination which relates to a health condition. Employees must be protected against any unfavourable treatment or ill-behaviour because of their ADHD.

If this is mismanaged, the employee could raise disability discrimination claims. And many of these lead to tribunal hearings, compensation penalties, and reputational damages.

Duty of care

Remember, not all people with ADHD need additional support; some may only need small changes to their tasks. But whether they need them or not, you still hold a duty of care.

Too often employees don’t have access to the right support at work. They might fear being labelled under mental stigmas; or worry about repercussions falling onto their careers. These types of fears go beyond their control, and in the end, they could choose to leave their job.

That’s why duty of care is so crucial. Through managing work practices, you can fully support them during their careers.

The most important legal methods you need to apply are raising awareness, providing work adjustments, and allowing equal opportunities across the workforce.

How to manage employees with ADHD in the workplace

As an employer, you must provide the right legal entitlements and support to all employees–especially to those with a health condition.

Be proactive in raising awareness for ADHD and deal with mental health issues as soon as you’re informed about them.

Here are tips on how to manage employees with ADHD in the workplace:

Embrace the benefits of ADHD

Employers gain several benefits from managing an employee with health conditions. And when you recognise them, you can help employees with ADHD succeed and build very successful careers.

You can embrace benefits like:

  • Being ‘hyper-focused’ on projects they find interesting.
  • Being spontaneous and willing to take risks.
  • Having a creative mindset and thinking uniquely.
  • Having relentless energy.
  • Being motivated by short-term deadlines and tasks.

But remember, every person will have different versions of the condition. For some, it’s a super-power; for others, it can regularly create challenges.

Make sure you understand their own level and how you can help them utilise it during work.

Make workplace adjustments

Some employees with ADHD might not require any extra help during their job. But those that do should be given as much task support as you can manage.

These are done by providing workplace adjustments. These workplace strategies or coping skills are easily implemented and generally don’t cost a huge amount.

Incorporate them and ensure you tailor them to the needs of the individual. For example:

  • Allow staggered work times and intermittent breaks.
  • Acknowledge certain tasks they might find difficult (and delegate other responsibilities).
  • Provide task equipment, like a day planner or job checklist.
  • Reduce distractions with noise-cancelling headphones or background music.
  • Create a designated private office or quiet workspace.

Offer medical referrals

As an employer, you’re expected to care for them, not cure them. So, a great place to start is by offering medical referrals. Remember, ADHD is a lifelong medical condition, and people learn to manage it through their daily job.

Through medical referrals, employees gain expert advice on how to manage their condition. Occupational health practitioners will diagnose adult ADHD and offer suitable support. They often recommend following strategies like:

  • Medication and stimulants.
  • Counselling and cognitive behavioural psychotherapy.
  • Coaching on how to manage ADHD during a job.

These referrals normally take place outside of the workplace. However, it’s important to have regular conversations and meetings about them. Schedule bimonthly/monthly meetings with them and hold health assessments. Ask them about coping methods or develop strategies for current and other tasks.

Keep their condition confidential

It takes a lot of courage and strength to open up about one’s health condition. This is because many employees fear potential the repercussions. Like, facing job performance issues, mental stigmas, and missing out on career progression.

When an employee mentions their ADHD condition, keep their case strictly confidential. Do not discuss their condition with another co-worker or manager (unless it’s absolutely necessary). If you have any documentation about them, keep them in a securely locked place.

If you recommend them to occupational health or a career counsellor, clarify who exactly needs to be informed and who will be present.

These steps will ensure you’ve handled their case sensitively and reasonably. More employees will then become comfortable with sharing their health condition. And in turn, this will eliminate any stigma which surround them.

(When an employee mentions their ADHD condition to you, keep their case strictly confidential).

Get expert guidance on ADHD at work with Health Assured

All employers have an obligation to create a healthy and safe workplace environment.

It’s not only your legal duty but a moral one too. By doing so, you can help anyone suffering from ADHD conditions during work.

If you fail to do this, you could end up worsening their health. And this can lead to discrimination claims, court hearings, and business damages.

Health Assured offer expert guidance on adults with ADHD in the workplace. Our teams can help you safeguard employee wellbeing whilst simultaneously meeting your company needs.

We also provide a 24/7 helpline that’s open 365 days a year–helping employers and their business all year round. Arrange a call back from an expert today on 0800 206 2532.

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