Dyslexia Week: Dyslexia in the workplace

The end of Dyslexia Week is fast approaching. This year’s theme – #DyslexiaCreates – is a stark reminder to all of us of both its power to shape ideas and organisations, and the barriers and stigma that still surround it.

It’s a good time to remember that dyslexia is pretty common – the learning condition affects roughly one in ten people. While the effects vary, it often causes problems with reading, writing and spelling, as well as planning and organising.

To dig a bit deeper into dyslexia in the workplace, we sat down with our Senior Cognitive Scientist, Emily Boardman. 

Hi Emily. It’s great to be chatting with you today. To get us started, why don’t you explain some of the stigmas associated with dyslexia?

Sure! For starters, people may interpret the difficulties associated with dyslexia as signs of low intelligence or an inability to do certain things. We know that this isn’t the case – intelligence isn’t impacted by dyslexia. 

What are some of the invaluable contributions that people with dyslexia can make to the workplace? 

Evidence shows that they tend to have stronger creative thinking skills, and to be more entrepreneurial. They’re also more skilled at processing abstract ideas visually, rather than verbally. This provides different perspectives when it comes to problem-solving.

They’re also more likely to be persistent and adaptable when it comes to achieving their goals. This might stem from a greater resilience developed through additional struggles faced over their lifetime.

What are some of the barriers those with dyslexia might face in the workplace?

Although people with dyslexia are more likely to be entrepreneurs, and to thrive in start-ups, strict frameworks in more “traditional” organisations can limit their ability to bring creative problem-solving approaches to bear.

Additionally, training materials or instructions provided by text or speech can be hard to interpret and to remember without supporting images or demonstrations.

Getting into these jobs can also be harder. Traditional psychometric tests, assessment centres and interviews can be stressful for dyslexic candidates, especially if there’s limited time to prepare.

As such, people with dyslexia are more likely to be under-employed or unemployed, and less likely to enter management positions or graduate schemes.

How can behaviour-based assessments like Arctic Shores’ benefit dyslexic candidates?

So, we’ve sought to create a more intuitive assessment, to allow candidates to learn by doing. That’s something we’re continuously working to improve. 

We conduct user research too – focusing on candidates with learning disabilities like dyslexia. This helps us understand what we can do to better support them, and how we can encourage psychological flow to reduce testing anxiety. 

We’ve also found that candidates with dyslexia show more resilience and greater inquisitiveness towards new experiences. The fact that we can pick these traits up using our assessment is great – it shows a more rounded view of the candidate. Traditional assessments, with their narrow focus on spatial or verbal reasoning, simply can’t identify those traits. 

Finally, what can employers do to support their dyslexic team members?

To start, there’s some really practical things. Using text-to-speech and predictive writing softwares, for example, or incorporating interactive and dynamic forms of communication.

It’s also vital that employers give people enough time to process information before expecting them to discuss it. Breaking projects down into smaller, more manageable chunks can help with the planning and organisation aspect of dyslexia.

However, they should bear in mind that dyslexia is a very diverse condition, so additional support needs will vary from person to person!

Thanks Emily for chatting with us, and sharing some of those useful insights! 

Searching for ways to make your organisation more inclusive? Let’s see how we can help. Arrange a call here.

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