Congratulations! You’ve made the job offer and it’s been accepted. Now what?

A positive on-boarding experience is crucial to valuing and retaining new hires, bolstering your company reputation and ultimately saving money. Each company will have their own on-boarding processes, and these will of course vary depending on the industry. However, there are common factors which you can review to make the process more neuroinclusive and accessible for all.

Let’s begin by considering the on-boarding experience. The prospect of joining a new company can be a daunting and emotional event for anyone, but being neurodivergent can add layers of complexity to this that some employers may be unaware of. Whilst the umbrella of neurodiversity covers many different neurotypes, it is possible to identify several commonalities between the lived experiences of neurodiverse people.

When speaking to our neurodiverse colleagues about their experiences of starting new employment, one theme which came up time and time again was anxiety. Anxiety about communication, anxiety about the unknown, anxiety about how they may be coming across. What can you do within your on-boarding process to allay this anxiety? Do you offer a variety of communication methods? Do you provide clear information about your processes? What are you doing to help your new employee feel comfortable and at ease?

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

One of our colleagues, who is dyslexic, said, “I have a genuine understanding of what it’s like to live in a world that feels like it is designed to make me fail.” Imagine if this was your perspective. Would you want to feel like this on a daily basis, let alone in your workplace? It is vital that all of your employees, but in particular your new starters, feel supported in an environment designed to help them succeed.

In the 2023 Hybrid Work Report by Hubspot, 52% of respondents would prioritise great relationships with colleagues over a 10% pay rise; and 39% of employees who felt they had a weak connection to company culture said they were currently looking for another role, compared to just 24% of employees who felt that they had a strong connection.

Developing a strong connection to company culture starts before an employee steps through the door on the first day. Maya Angelou famously said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Ensuring your on-boarding process is neuroinclusive sets your intention as a company for ALL of your new employees, neurodivergent or not. A truly neuroinclusive on-boarding process seeks to remove any potential anxiety, reduce feelings of being overwhelmed, and establish a supportive environment where employees can thrive and succeed. In short, it helps employees feel welcomed and comfortable, and safe to be themselves. It demonstrates that your company has a culture which values their employees and their wellbeing. An employee who feels valued is going to feel more motivated and be more productive. Remember: they will never forget how you made them feel.

This also works the other way; if you get the on-boarding process wrong, and an employee feels anxious, overwhelmed, and doomed to fail, the chances of them being able to perform at their best become significantly lower. The likelihood that they will remain with your company in the long term also drops. The Neurodiversity at Work 2023 Report by Birkbeck University revealed that ‘boss’s support, psychological safety and career satisfaction were the most important influences on intention to leave.’ Getting your on-boarding process right will help to foster that sense of psychological safety, which in turn will increase retention rates of highly skilled, committed employees. And the good news doesn’t end there - employees who feel valued will spread the word that your company is the place to be, which will in turn attract even more great hires.