Dyslexia in the workplace

dyslexic blogWith dyslexia affecting around 10% of the population, it’s likely that at some point you’ll encounter it within your workforce. But while most people have heard of dyslexia, if it doesn’t affect you or someone you know, you may not understand exactly what it means – or how to talk about it. Alison Schreiber, Director at The HR Dept, Durham, looks at how businesses can tackle the issue.

Without fully understanding the condition, it can be difficult to address dyslexia in the workplace. How will you spot the signs or know how best to support a dyslexic employee?

The good news is, with the right knowledge and understanding, you can work with your dyslexic employees, helping them reach their full potential – growing both your business and their personal development at the same time.

What is Dyslexia?
Dyslexia is a specific learning difficulty that affects an individual’s ability to process and remember information. It may be classed as a disability under the Equality Act 2010. Although linked to learning, dyslexia is not related to intelligence.

Dyslexia can often go undeclared in the workplace, due to fear of discrimination. So as an employer, it’s useful to be able to recognise some of the signs and symptoms.

Common signs of dyslexia can include:

  • – Confusion of verbal or written instructions
    – Difficulty with spelling and/or lengthy words
    – Remembering meeting times and dates
    – Short term memory
    – Self-doubt or low self esteem

    What should you do if an employee tells you they are dyslexic?

  • If your employee believes they are dyslexic and the evidence supports this, it is good practice to offer support and recommend they get an official diagnosis.
  • With official diagnosis it is your duty as an employer to make reasonable adjustments to support your employee.
     
    How can you support a dyslexic employee?
  • Unsupported dyslexia can be both stressful for the individual and disruptive to a business. Luckily there are simple adjustments that can be made, often at no cost to your business.
  • Some areas you can investigate to support dyslexia in the workplace include:
  • – Advice with planning
    – Providing written and verbal instructions
    – Providing access to technical solutions
    – Allowing more time for specific tasks
  • Did you know?
    Many dyslexic people are visually creative or great problem solvers and can go on to achieve great things. For example, Richard Branson the well-known business magnate is dyslexic and describes it as a ‘different and brilliant way of thinking’. He certainly didn’t let the condition hold him back.
  • So, in addition to supporting your dyslexic employee, it’s worth discussing new ideas or projects with them. You might be able to nurture hidden talent or undeveloped skills.