ADHD stands for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. It is a condition that affects people’s behaviour, mood regulation, concentration, time management, and more. It is estimated that over 1 million people in the U.K. have the condition but only 120,000 of those people are formally diagnosed.
The condition has only been recognised officially in the U.K. since 2000, and only officially so for adults since 2008. ADHD has a long way to go before it receives the proper levels of awareness and understanding in this country.
A life arena in which ADHD can cause problems is that of work and employment. Due to the very nature of the condition, people who live with ADHD can find that they struggle in employment. Employers also struggle to support their employees with ADHD so that can be happy in their job and get the work done effectively.
As such, we have created this page within our Disability Advice Hub to talk more about ADHD and how it can be best supported on each side of the workplace.
Things are always easier when you have the right support.
Managing Your ADHD at Work
Some symptoms of ADHD that may affect you in finding work, doing your job, and staying in that job include:
- Struggling with time management and giving accurate time estimates for how long tasks will take
- Being disorganised and having difficulties keeping track of things
- Memory problems and forgetfulness
- Losing focus
- Struggling to regulate your mood
- Having an irregular sleep pattern that causes fatigue during the day…
… and so on.
How ADHD affects you at work will be specific to you and your own symptoms. We can’t give an ultimate list of symptoms that will affect everyone who lives with ADHD, because it simply doesn’t work like that.
Whatever symptoms you have, it is well-established that people with ADHD struggle with work more than people without the condition. The symptoms tend to go against consistent or reliable levels of work and it can be a very tricky condition to manage whilst in employment.
It is important that you don’t blame yourself for this and that you don’t punish yourself for struggling to do work in the way that neurotypical people may be able to. There are millions of people with ADHD out there and they all have difficulties in similar ways to you. There is nothing wrong with needing extra support or different provisions so that you can get your work done and keep a job. Everyone is just different.
What to Do Next
Under The Equality Act of 2010, employers are required to make reasonable adjustments based on an employee’s disability. If you are diagnosed with ADHD in the U.K. you can be classified as having a disability if, “you have a physical or mental impairment that has a ‘substantial’ and ‘long-term’ negative effect on your ability to do normal daily activities.” If this is the case for you, you will be entitled to the extra support mentioned by employers.
Reasonable adjustments that can work for people with ADHD in the workplace include:
- Flexi-time and part-time schedules
- Extra monitors
- An assigned mentor/buddy
- Visual prompts and reminders
- The allowance of headphones in work, especially noise-cancelling headphones
- Extra breaks
You are legally allowed to ask your employer for any of these things. If they are reasonably able to provide them, they must do so.
If things really aren’t working out in your workplace and the reasonable adjustments don’t help, it could be time to move to a new job. Finding somewhere with an inclusive and Disability-Friendly employer is your best option. This will give you a much better chance of finding a work environment that works for you.
To find inclusive jobs for people with ADHD, check out our specialized job board.
Advice For Employers
Now, on the other side of the coin, we have advice for employers employing those with ADHD.
Everything that you have read in this previous section will also help and so it is important not to skip past it. Getting an insight into the life of someone with ADHD is the easiest way to understand them.
ADHD is a disability if it is severe and affects how an employee can manage to do their job. As so, you will need to put things in place to help them at work. There are lots of different ways that you can make work more accessible to those with ADHD, as we have talked about in the previous section, but the most critical thing you can do is learn about the condition and truly listen to your employee.
Listening and communicating openly with your staff will be a huge benefit to both you and them. You can make things much more smooth in the workplace if you actively engage in open communication. Something that you may find helps even further if there is misunderstanding and miscommunication across the office is to implement training and resources about ADHD for all members of staff. It is not only the management team that works with one employee, it is everyone together. Having everyone on the same page with information can help things run much more efficiently in the workplace. It can also help with cutting down on misconceptions and mishaps.
What to Do Next
Taking some time to do your own research about ADHD is vital if you want to fully support an employee. There is a whole world of information out there online and a quick Google search will help you learn a lot. (In fact, to help you out even further, here are some great web pages with lots of links to great support services, these are perfect to have on hand to provide to employees too). General research aside, it is even more important that you learn about your employees’ own individual points (s) of view. It is no good to provide the support that you think will help if it doesn’t help those employees in particular.
Being a Disability-Friendly and Diversity-Positive employer involves many different steps, and you can find out more about the process on our sites. However, there is probably no step more important than listening and understanding. If you can do these two things with your employees with ADHD, you can achieve a lot together overnight.
To start your journey as a Disability-Friendly employer, get involved with our services on Careers with Disabilities today. You can create inclusive job postings, create a company profile, and reach out to a pool of diverse candidates all in one place. You can also take a look at the funding you might be entitled to in order to make this happen.