When our People Leaders expressed their desire to understand neurodiversity better, little did we know what this curiosity would spark. In this blog post we’ll walk you through the practical steps taken toward neuro-friendly work place, how some neuro-friendly practices were already there, and the lessons we’ve learnt along the way. Learn more!
Embarking on a journey of learning
The decision on starting our year of learning stemmed from our EX survey where our People Leaders wished to gain more knowledge on the topic. After digging deeper, we understood what we hadn’t understood earlier: how widely the topic touches our society and our own work community. And when we start learning more and changing our practices, we will not only be making work life around and for us better but we’ll also have a chance to influence the user experience of our customers and customers’ customers through building more accessible services. The decision was quickly made: let’s do something about this!
We gathered a working group and started to plan. Our core team consisted of Goforeans from Speedclub, People Operations and Brand & Offering, and we soon reached out to our external partners Mehiläinen (occupational healthcare), Ilmarinen (pension insurance company) and Unicus (IT consultancy hiring neurodivergent employees). Pretty fast we realised that we wanted to both train our people, as well as raise discussion on the topic internally and externally. The interest of our People Leaders and other Goforeans to learn, and the concrete suggestions and experience-sharing from the Speedclub were at the core of our planning. Soon we had our plans ready.
Concrete steps: training and communication
We started with internal trainings. Mehiläinen trained our People Leaders in spring and in autumn. In the autumn sessions, we also had our customer Elisa‘s people managers with us. What a great way to start a neurodiversity awareness revolution together with an important partner. Unicus had training sessions for all Goforeans, our recruitment team as well as People Operations. At the same time we started our internal audits in all parts of People Operations to understand what kind of work there is to be done.
At the same time we were turning our thoughts into writing, informing internal and external stakeholders about our upcoming year of learning and inviting others to join.
Also, our planning calendar started to get busy with invites to speak about our work and experiences in different kinds of events, podcasts, webinars, trainings and at our external partners and customers (such as Vaisala). And it wasn’t only the core team that participated! Many Goforeans wanted to write or otherwise share their own experiences as a neurodivergent employee, leader, accessibility professional or a learner.
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What does life at Gofore look like now?
Some things have changed more than others. We noticed that intuitively we’ve done quite many things ‘right’ from the perspective of neurodiversity already. Here’s where we are now.
Everyday (work) life
- A lot of freedom to choose your working hours and location
- Project rotation and work allocation possibilities, based on your life situation
- Physical areas for different needs at offices: silent rooms, relaxation rooms, rooms for group work, phone booths, open area, possibility to use Spacent spaces around Finland
- Noise-cancelling headphones, silent keyboards and mouses as work equipment
- Having sensory toys available at the office
- Occupational health care with access to neuropsychiatric examinations
- Leadership support
- Training People Leaders to understand neurodiversity
- Updating People Leader role to enable supporting the individual needs of Goforeans
- Enabling individual learning paths and versatile skills development
Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
- Training all Goforeans to understand neurodiversity
- Measuring inclusion as a part of our bi-annual EX surveys:
- I can be my authentic self at work
- I have found a community for myself to belong to, at Gofore or its customers
- In our candidate experience survey we have a statement question: Throughout the recruitment process I was treated with respect
- Our cultural forces of Membership, Caring, Trust and Transparency continue to be an important part of our community.
Recruitment & onboarding
- Updating the content & language of our recruitment communications
- Clearer language and paragraphs, headings, fonts, boldings
- Naming the interviews ‘meetings’ in invites
- Must-have and nice-to-have experience & skills
- Special focus on colleague stories (‘real stories about real life’), expectation management & feedback
- Neurodiversity statement added into our job ads: We recognise and understand neurodiversity, and are willing to adapt our recruitment process based on your needs.
- Added a question into the application form: If we proceed in the recruitment process, what is your preferred method of contact? (Email / Phone call / SMS / Anything works)
- Having options for proving one’s skills in interviews
- Having sensory toys available in the meeting rooms
- Taking a break in the middle of a longer interview
- Training BU interview teams and others involved in recruitments to neurodiversity
Onboarding & preboarding
- Adding air into the onboarding process
- Regular 1-on-1s with own People Leader since the beginning
- Having sensory toys available in the onboarding meeting rooms
- Enabling different ways of taking in the onboarding day information (meetings, written material, recordings, online trainings, discussions)
- Preboarding site enabling one entry point for all preboarding practicalities
To sum it up, here are our lessons learned about along the way:
- Neuro-inclusive practices work for anyone. On a high level, they bring clarity and freedom of choice to select a way that works best for the individual.
- Awareness is step number 1 towards consideration.
- It’s not about diagnoses, it’s about discussion.
- The key in leading neurodivergent employees is reserving enough time to see and hear the other person.
- It pays off to use time and effort to find the skills and potential in a person.
- Be prepared to make mistakes and learn from each encounter.
- It is ok to think that there’s a price tag for neurodiversity. However, it is up to us if we highlight the challenges or possibilities.
- At its best you’ll come out as a stronger work community that creates strength in diversity.
As we reflect on the concrete steps taken, we recognize that our neurodiversity journey is not just a commitment but a series of deliberate actions creating a workplace that truly values diversity.
Welcome to learn with us about neurodiversity in working life!