Is hybrid working beneficial for employee wellbeing?
October 9 2023Read more
People experience with all kinds of mental health conditions that affect them in everyday life.
A fairly common one is ADHD. When it comes to adult ADHD, it presents all levels of symptoms and it's often hard to pinpoint triggers.
As an employer, it's important to support employees who have this condition. Otherwise, you could end up losing talented workers, facing disability discrimination claims, and suffering reputational damage.
In this guide, we'll look at what ADHD is, what the symptoms are, and how to support employees suffering at work.
ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) is a condition where people have symptoms such as restlessness and concentration issues.
More often, ADHD affects younger people. However, adults with ADHD struggle just as much - in their personal life, as well as at their job.
People with ADHD can experience numerous variations of the condition. But in the end, the causes come from biological, environmental, and genetic factors.
Many adults with ADHD find it hard to control three symptoms: inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsive behaviour.
Anyone with untreated ADHD will experience different levels of each symptom. They'll also have their own individual triggers and coping skills.
Let's look at the characteristics of each symptom:
There are other ADHD symptoms that people can suffer from. For example, sensory or mood disorders, like sensitivity to colours, lights, and sounds. People with ADHD can also suffer from psychological health conditions, like anxiety, depression, and sleep deprivation.
Every person with ADHD will have their own form and levels of symptoms. And these won't stop the second they walk into the workplace.
When employees suffer with ADHD at work, it leads to factors like:
An employee with ADHD may find it hard to manage their time well. They could face difficulties with attending work meetings on time. Or lose track of time when it comes to meeting deadlines for certain tasks.
It's very common for adults with ADHD to struggle with poor time management skills. It also creates negative personas, as they could be seen as lacking or uninterested in their job.
The employee might struggle to keep their tasks and duties organised to the level expected by their business. This could easily lead to missing or insufficient work.
They may also struggle with managing large projects that have a lot of elements to them. For example, organising projects for colleagues in different departments.
The employee may find it hard to focus on one task, let alone their overall work responsibilities. As a one-off situation, this isn't considered to have a huge impact. But overtime, this could be detrimental to your business success.
The overall productivity decreases in quantity as the employee struggles to complete work within the expected time-frame. Production also decreases in quality, as they fail to meet the requirements needed for completion of complex projects.
The employee may find it hard to focus for certain lengths of time. Sitting in ongoing meetings or doing a task that requires hours of attention may prove to be difficult for them.
This is usually because they struggle to ignore surrounding distractions - it's the way their brain works. But it doesn't stop other people or colleagues from thinking negatively about them. Even when the employee is trying their best, they could be seen as lazy or disinterested.
When a person has ADHD, it affects their concentration levels. But in the workplace, their condition can quite quickly affect their colleagues around them.
Colleagues might find them distracting or not know how to work alongside them. This can create challenges and lead to poor communication skills - which can ruin work relations for good.
In the UK, there is no specific law that states how employers should manage workers with ADHD. However, there are certain legal criteria that you need to comply with.
When a health condition significantly impacts a person’s daily life, it may class as a disability. In this case, if a person's ADHD has a full or partial influence on their daily life, it can legally class as a mental disability.
Under the Equality Act 2010, for a mental health condition to class as a disability, it must:
Medical professionals would diagnose an employee’s ADHD. If it counts as a disability, their employer has a legal duty to provide accommodations or reasonable adjustments to them at work.
Denying these statutory rights means you could face a disability discrimination claim. If this is upheld, employers could end up facing hefty compensation and reputational damages.
When an employee is diagnosed with a mental health condition, they often choose to keep it private. That's because many believe it could be held against them and stunt their career progression.
On the other hand, many suffer from the backlash of mental health stigma. Their colleagues or managers may treat them unfavourably - out of ignorance or even with motivation.
Under the Equality Act, employees are protected from unlawful discrimination on the grounds of protected characteristics - including disability. Meaning, you cannot treat an employee unfairly because they have a mental condition, like ADHD.
In the long run, if ADHD employees aren't treated well, they could decide to leave their job. This can significantly impact production, retention, and absenteeism factors. And if they felt forced to leave, they could raise a constructive dismissal claim.
Employers have a legal duty of care when it comes to supporting people with ADHD. You aren't expected to heal their condition; but you are expected to make their work life as comfortable as reasonably possible.
This duty of care applies regardless of how severe their condition is. You need to talk to these employees and highlight what specific support is available to help them work to the best of their ability.
A lot of the time, people with ADHD feel defined by their condition. It can dictate their life or stops them from progressing at work. But that shouldn't stop you from helping to develop their careers.
Don't think they're making excuses - it can be hard to feel confident against other colleagues who don’t have such conditions. But employers must do their best to ensure employees with ADHD are given equal opportunities at work.
If you have a worker who suffers from ADHD, or any other health conditions, you need to provide them with the right support.
Raising awareness and making reasonable adjustments are just some inclusive steps you can take. In the end, you'll be able to help people with ADHD succeed in your workplace and beyond.
Let's look at ways to support employees with ADHD in the workplace:
The first step employers should take is embracing the benefits of ADHD. With this specific condition, people gain numerous advantages, which can be beneficial at work.
Employers should embrace ADHD benefits like:
Every person with ADHD will have their own unique form of the condition. For some, it’s a super-power; for others, it's a challenge. You need to understand what the employee needs in order to succeed whilst working for you.
In certain cases, ADHD can class as a disability. When it does, employers are legally obliged to provide reasonable adjustments.
These are changes made to an employee's work conditions which help make their working life easier. Employers should consider following strategies like:
It takes a lot of courage to open up about health conditions. Employees might be scared of being labelled or treated differently by their colleagues - with or without intent. So, it's best to keep their condition private.
You should only inform those that need to be told, like an occupational health officer or their immediate line-manager (with the employee’s consent). That way, you're not completely alone in supporting them during their job.
The employee is also reassured that their case is handled with sensitivity. They may feel comfortable sharing information about their condition with co-workers. In the end, this helps to grow awareness and eliminate the negative stigma that surrounds adult ADHD.
It's important to help people with health conditions progress up the 'career ladder'.
Some people may already be scared of their job security because of their ADHD. They could feel less confident about their job performance or ability compared to their colleagues. This leads to frequent job changes and staggered career growth.
Employers have a moral duty to eliminate this thinking. Talk to employees about career options and how they'd like to see themselves progress at work.
Employers can even help them request a raise through 'role play'. Or give them other responsibilities that'll help settle them in a new job or task. In the end, the employee won't feel disadvantaged with their ADHD and aspire to aim high.
Unfortunately, there's a lot of stigma that surrounds health conditions - especially mental health stigmas. That's why it's important for employers to be proactive and promote good mental wellbeing in the workplace.
The best way to promote this is by:
Untreated ADHD can lead to people struggling daily. So, it's best for them to have access to medical advice to help manage their condition directly.
Offer ADHD employees medical referrals through occupational health. They will be able to track and oversee their health state whilst at work. Occupational health officers can even recommend remedies like:
Occupational health referrals usually take place outside of the workplace. However, it’s still important for employers to have open communication with employees. You can schedule meetings to talk about coping strategies and task developments to help them at their job.
Attention deficit disorder (ADD) is considered the older version of ADHD.
People used to be diagnosed with ADD; with or without hyperactivity. That's why ADD was known as the 'less severe' form of ADHD. In reality, adults with ADHD face all kinds of triggers and symptoms.
Even with milder symptoms, adults can still suffer with ADD at work. They can still face performance issues or struggle to finish tasks on time. So, talk to your employees about their specific condition and see how you can support them at work.
As an employer, you aren't expected to heal people with ADHD. But you should do your best to support them through such things at work.
By doing so, you'll be able to create a workplace that promotes equal opportunities for all - regardless of health conditions. But if you neglect this, you could face losing talented colleagues, disability discrimination claims, and paying compensation.
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