Neurodiversity, jobsearch and work - a review of the evidence

Bajorek Z, Plowden Roberts C |   | Institute for Employment Studies  | Mar 2024

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There is a concern that people with diagnosed or undiagnosed needs may find it more difficult to engage with a programme of support such as Restart or be more likely to disengage from that support, while at the same time being less likely to achieve positive employment outcomes without appropriate support. For this research, a literature review was followed by a focus group which included representatives from five Restart providers. This captured frontline experiences of current support provided to both participants and employers when placing neurodivergent participants into employment, explored what further support could be helpful and sought examples of good practice to be shared. It also provided researchers with the opportunity to test the recommendations that arose from the literature. The research also includes evidence from an observational visit, conducted at a Restart office, and discussions with employment and health advisers that occurred on site.

The research findings include the following recommendations:

  • Ascertain how ‘Disability Confident’ organisations are, through probing organisations about what they are able to provide for employees with long-term health conditions, including neurodiversity.
  • Identify whether potential employers have a neurodiversity policy for staff - this can help jobseekers to understand the culture and support within the organisation.
  • Restart participants may be unaware of the support that they may need when entering a workplace. Employment advisers should be aware of language being used when approaching employers about reasonable adjustments, ensuring that Restart clients are positively advocated for, with a focus on the individual strengths’ participants will bring to the role.
  • Employment advisers should discuss what reasonable adjustments could be asked for to help match the job role a Restart client may be suitable for. The support should be tailored to the individual so that they are getting the adjustments that they need and that will help them to succeed at work.
  • As well as ensuring that Restart clients have access to suitable work environments, it is just as important that Restart offices are also suitable to support the needs of those with long-term health conditions including neurodiversity. Consideration may need to be given to the environment, training needs and methods of communication.
  • It may be helpful for Restart providers to engage with external experts as well as experts by experience when developing support processes. This will ensure that the information provided is unbiased, current and relevant to the workplace.

The report concludes that knowledge and understanding about neurodiversity and work will facilitate better support for individuals to gain and maintain a job. For employment providers this means building on existing training, as well as reviewing communication and delivery of provision within offices. This research has been limited by the lack of published evidence on the role of employment providers and what they can do to best support those with neurodiversity into employment. This has led to a focus on using the expertise of advisers to help adapt recommendations from the literature to an employment programme environment, to help ensure that the findings from this research are as useful and practical as possible. There is value in continuing to collect and share good practice from Restart providers in order to inform better delivery both now and for future programmes.