A workplace needs assessment is a process that reviews the working patterns of employees who may need extra support to carry out their roles. Employers will use a workplace needs assessment to identify any reasonable adjustments to make for staff with disabilities, neurodiversity, or Specific Learning Differences. And, usually, an independent assessor carries out the assessment in-person or remotely.
Assessors will highlight any difficulties an employee may be experiencing in a report. They’ll consider the impact of someone’s working environment as well as the systems and equipment used. Employers then receive a report with recommended support ranging from assistive technology to environmental changes and one-to-one sessions. Employees can then implement these recommendations through the government’s Access to Work scheme.
For those who need a refresher, in this post, we’ll explain why a workplace needs assessment is important. But we’ll also offer further details on the assessment process.
Why is a Workplace Needs Assessment Important?
A workplace needs assessment is a critical way to give staff with Specific Learning Differences the support they need to thrive at work. Assessments will highlight any difficulties neurodiverse staff face and make recommendations for reasonable adjustments. Under the Equality Act 2010, employers do have a legal obligation to support any reasonable adjustments for staff with neurodiversity.
Also, research suggests neurodiverse workforces can offer a competitive advantage by up to 30%. For example, employees with autism often bring excellent attention to detail, creative talents, and specialist knowledge to office environments. And this can lead to innovative projects and ideas. To do this, they will often need an assessment to review their needs and recommend the right tools to support them.
Carrying out a needs assessment can lead to many benefits in the workplace:
- Higher morale
- Improved job satisfaction
- Motivated staff
- Increased productivity
Estimates suggest around 15% of the workforce have some form of neurodiversity. But around half of them don’t realise it yet. So, whether they’ve received a diagnosis yet or not, employers must provide support in a formal Workplace Needs Assessment.
Which Individuals with Specific Learning Differences May Need a Workplace Needs Assessment?
Workplace needs assessments are appropriate for a variety of physical and mental health conditions. In this section, we’ve highlighted four neurodivergent conditions this process applies to.
If you’re looking to support dyslexic employees with a workplace needs assessment, you may want to ensure assessors are level 4 accredited as part of the BDA’s Workplace Assessor Programme. BDA assessments are remote and employees will need to be in a role for at least 6 weeks before the assessment. The British Dyslexia Association can carry out a workplace needs assessment for £375 (+ VAT).
Do note that assessments are not diagnostic. So if a staff member has suspected and undiagnosed dyslexia, they should take a separate individual diagnostic assessment.
Work environments can impact individuals with ADHD in different ways. They may be more easily distracted by background conversations, noise, people moving around, or digital distractions. To minimise the impact, it can be a good idea to carry out a workplace assessment shortly after a new employee with ADHD joins an organisation. Plus, an employee may want to include a champion or trusted friend to join them in the assessment process.
Employees with Autism Spectrum Condition may find it harder to interact with others and to meet new people. They may also engage in repetitive behaviors. So, a workplace needs assessment can help to find solutions to overcome these obstacles. But employers must also understand the barriers their employees with ASC face and tailor their working practices. Recommendations for reasonable adjustments may include the use of assistive technology software such as mind mapping software. But can also include one-to-one support such as mentoring or job coaching. And this may come from someone with specialist experience supporting people with autism.
Employers can consider contacting an occupational therapist who specialises in Dyspraxia (also known as Developmental Coordination Disorder) to help staff with this condition. Dyspraxia often affects movement and physical coordination but can also impact organisational skills and work processes. Assessors with specialist knowledge of dyspraxia can provide recommendations for the most appropriate technology and in-person support to address these challenges.
People with dyspraxia can often struggle with operating workplace equipment. But they may also have difficulties with communication and poor handwriting. To help them, an assessor should conduct an interview with both the employer and the employee. Then, they can provide recommendations for reasonable adjustments. These may include making physical changes to the work environment or providing extra training.
What is the Access to Work scheme?
Access to Work (AtW) is a form of grant funding to give practical support to people with neurodiversity, a physical disability, or a mental health condition. Its aim is to get people with these conditions into work or to stay in work. But it can also help them move into self-employment. Employees may receive grant funding to support any reasonable adjustments recommended through a workplace needs assessment.
Grants of up to £62,900 per year are available for people in England, Wales, and Scotland with neurodivergent conditions. Grants can cover the costs of items that support individuals to work such as:
- Assistive technology or specialist software such as Caption.Ed
- Special equipment or adaptations to the equipment you use
- One-to-one support from a support worker or job coach
- Fares to work if you can’t use public transport
- Disability awareness training for colleagues
- The cost of any equipment removals if you change location or job
For small businesses, Access to Work can usually meet 100% of any cost requirements for neurodivergent staff. Medium-sized companies may need to meet a small proportion of the cost but only for existing staff. For more information about the government’s Access to Work scheme, get in touch with the team at Caption.Ed.
Caption.Ed is a High-Performance Assistive Technology Tool for Neurodivergent Staff
Caption.Ed is available as part of the Access to Work scheme. And it’s an effective solution for neurodivergent conditions such as dyslexia, ADHD, and ASC. As a state-of-the-art piece of assistive technology, Caption.Ed can support improvements in working memory, concentration, visual stress, and spelling. Talk to us today about applying for Caption.Ed as part of the Access to Work scheme.