Can Neurodiverse Employees add value to the Workplace?

There has been much talk of diversity in the workplace, with organisations embedding equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) strategies. But little has been done around neurodiversity.  In the UK it is estimated that more than 15% of the workforce is neurodiverse.

Hafton recently worked with clients who had staff with dyslexia and ADHD.  The clients weren’t sure how to support them, so turned to us for advice. In one case they were about to embark on a capability process, before support could be found which resolved the situation.

So, what do we mean by neurodiversity? It is a broad spectrum and includes autism, dyslexia, ADHD, dyscalculia, and dysgraphia, among others.  While dyslexia is a learning disability that is characterized by poor spelling, reading, and writing, dysgraphia means that the person has difficulty writing by hand. This means the two are often lumped together when finding solutions.

What kind of environment is needed for those who are neurodiverse to flourish?  There are many simple interventions that employers can make to support neurodivergent employees to thrive. In fact, these interventions will also make the working environment far better for neurotypical employees as well, and may already be part of your EDI strategy.

Here are some interventions you can make:

Everyone is an individual:  Although using categories such as ‘neurodivergent’ or ‘ADHD’ is helpful for ease of reference to specific groups, all human beings are individuals and need to be treated as such.  Just as no two neurotypical employees have the same needs or abilities, the same goes for neurodivergent people.  Know your team, and understand their unique strengths, areas for development and the tools and support they need to be successful in their role.

Don’t make assumptions:  There are a lot of misconceptions about what neurodivergent people can and can’t do. In an inclusive culture, where diversity of thought, views and approach are the norm, organisations should embrace the strengths that neurodivergent people bring. This might include, for example, pattern recognition, out-of-the-box thinking, laser focus, resilience, and no-nonsense honesty.

Make communication clear, concise and unambiguous:  Don’t over-complicate internal staff communications.  Make sure deadlines are agreed, expectations are understood, and policies and processes are clearly articulated. Check in with individuals to ensure that they have everything they need to get on with their jobs.

Provide quiet spaces:  Many neurodivergent people find it difficult to concentrate in busy offices. Providing a quiet space or noise-cancelling headphones can really help.

Ensure regular breaks:  So many of us do not take regular breaks.  Remind both neurodiverse and neurotypical staff to take regular breaks throughout the day.

Encourage flexible working patterns:  While recent legislative changes in requests for flexible working have changed to be more accessible, many neurodivergent people also have differences in their sleep and circadian rhythms. Allowing them to work at times when they are most productive and in locations where distractions are minimised can hugely increase productivity, even if it means working outside normal working hours.

Support wellbeing and mental health:  Many neurodivergent people experience mental health challenges, particularly if they have been blamed and judged for their work.  Make sure that your work environment fosters a sense of belonging, and support is in place for employee wellbeing and mental health, so that neurodivergent people are not expected to fit into a non-existent homogenous culture.

Please contact Hafton for a free consultation about supporting neurodiverse employees and how to ensure a fully inclusive workplace at info@haftonconsultancy.com  giving your name, business and contact number.


Is ‘working from anywhere’ really an option?

During the pandemic it was inevitable that some employees were grounded abroad and had to work remotely from their location.   Somehow it worked in many cases and authorities turned a blind eye to those not paying tax in the country where they were located.

However, we are now several years on and with the increase in hybrid working, a number of workers are still working from other locations outside the UK.  A recent Gallagher survey showed that a third of employees who are planning to work in another country are doing so against their organisation’s rules, while 14% intend to keep their working overseas a secret.   Some may, of course, assume they have the right to work overseas and are working in ignorant bliss!

This situation poses some legal risks for employers – data protection, health and safety, as well as the issue of tax.  It will, of course, depend in which country the employee is intending to work and indeed whether their organisation has a subsidiary or affiliate organisation that might be able to take the employee onto its books.

What are the possible solutions for a scenario, for example, where a French national with the right to work in the UK wishes to work from Greece?   Let’s assume the employee’s original contract was issued in the UK where they had the right to work.

  1. The employee returns to the UK and works as per the original contract.

This option is straightforward and while the employee may argue that through custom and practice, they have been ‘permitted’ to work from Greece, this option was only granted under exceptional circumstances due to the pandemic.

  1. The employee is permitted to work from Greece.

In this case you are likely to have to set up a local payroll which can be done through a payroll company.   This is likely to be costly.

  1. The employee becomes self-employed.

This way the employee would be independent with no employee benefits.  The employee would pay local tax in Greece with no tax obligations in the UK.  However, under IR35 rules an employee who works solely for one company, may be unlikely to qualify for self-employed status.

  1. The employee is seconded through an affiliate organisation.

If the organisation has a subsidiary or affiliate organisation in Greece, it may be possible to employ the individual from that location while they work fully for the UK office.  Again, the employee would pay local tax.  Again, it would be important to look at resident status from the host country’s perspective.

If your organisation wants to talk through its option with employees in similar please contact Hafton for a free consultation at info@haftonconsultancy.com  giving your name, business and contact number.




How can People & Culture shape and deliver your ESG agenda?

It doesn’t seem long since the last Conference of the Parties (COP 26) yet last week the heads of state gathered again to make renewed promises about climate change.  But how can organisations and particularly the People & Culture (Human Resources) function get behind initiatives that support your organisation’s ESG (environmental, social and governance) strategy?

So, what is an ESG strategy and why do you need one?   An ESG strategy is your plan and framework to progress towards reaching sustainability goals.  It will include the initiatives and the actions you will take as well as the quantitative information that measures the value you’re getting back for your efforts.  It can benefit you in the following ways:

  • Keeping up with comparators: This is a key factor in staying competitive and relevant within your sector and keeps you in step with or ahead of your competitors.
  • Aligning with stakeholder interests: An ESG strategy gives stakeholders (shareholders, donors) an objective way to measure improvements in each fundamental area of the plan, showing them that they’re investing their money in the right place.
  • Preparing for long-term success: Leaders want their businesses to be successful for years to come.  An ESG plan is an important part of the vision to ensure a long-term future.

Here are some starter questions:-

Purpose:  Ask the question why are you doing it?  What is your time horizon and how are you going to measure success?

Governance: How will your board enable, support and oversee your ESG strategy?

Leadership & Management:  How will you attract and develop your internal / external talent?  How will you organise yourselves internally to deliver the strategy?

Culture:  How do you support your people to get the right mindset, culture and behaviours?

HR professionals can play a critical role in shaping and delivering their organisations’ ESG strategy – and help those companies address their skills gap in the process.


The growing number and severity of climate change events has spurred international commitments to curb the rise in global temperatures. Those commitments by governments are increasingly being reflected in policy and legislation.

On a micro level, companies adopting forward-thinking hybrid working practices, better travel policies and mitigating reputational risks arising from the green agenda, means they are contributing to supporting climate sustainability goals.  HR professionals can play a pivotal role in facilitating and enabling behavioural and cultural change by leading on practical environmental policies to cut an organisation’s carbon footprint.


This aspect looks at how organisations manage their relationships with its customers, suppliers, employees and the communities in which it operates with regards to equality, diversity and inclusion.  This might include carrying out equal pay audits, your approach to modern slavery and ensuring your supply chain as well as your clients or beneficiaries adhere to the same values.

The people & culture experts can also develop and deliver development programmes, reciprocal mentoring schemes, executive coaching and leadership that provide opportunities across all aspects of the organisation’s stakeholders.


Governance encompasses the various mechanisms within an organisation relating to its management and decision-making, generally led by its board and executive team.

Your people & culture function can play an important role here by driving accountability and transparency and aligning the business with its purpose and values. Impactful organisational structure and leadership can lead to better employee relations, reduced risks and create better productivity.

HR professionals can support the board in pay reporting and audits, recruitment and succession planning, provide guidance on the ethical use of new technologies, such as where AI (artificial intelligence) is used in processing applicant CVs, as well support the selection of pension providers.

Is ESG the differentiator?

Yes, candidates are interested and increasingly scrutinising prospective employers’ approach to environmental measures, pay equality, and hybrid working practises.   Communicating to potential candidates how your company does this well may be a deciding factor in securing the people you want in your business.

If your organisation wants to know more about ESG and how it can help your business please contact Hafton for a free consultation at info@haftonconsultancy.com  giving your name, business and contact number.


How Vlex-ible will your Organisation be in a post-COVID world?

It is extraordinary how the pandemic has challenged long held views.   I remember some years ago trying to persuade a chief executive that flexible working would improve the organisation’s capacity and motivate staff to be more productive.  He was ‘old school’ in that if he couldn’t see staff in the office then he didn’t think they would be working effectively.

Varying reports based on research during the pandemic show that around 70% of people would be happy to continue working from home once the pandemic is over.

While a number of people felt the new way of working was foisted on them, a number quickly realised that the end of the long commute was a good thing, that report they have on the whole been more productive.   However, each individual is different and the challenge, from a people management perspective, is to ensure there is a way of balancing individuals’ desire for flexible and virtual working as well as keeping the organisation profitable and on target

Hafton has supported a number of its clients with on-line questionnaires to gauge the ‘mood music’ of the return to the office and what arrangement they believe will work in the future.  Most of them have opted for a blended approach, allowing staff to work partly from home and partly in the office, hence heralding a new vlex-ible (virtual and flexible) work environment.

So how can you make your organisation more vlex-ible?  Firstly, you need to have a culture of managing performance by output and not the number of hours someone works; secondly you need to have a clear plan to manage the flexible working arrangements in the business so that the work is covered.