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How to best support staff with dyslexia

This week is Dyslexia Awareness Week. Dyslexia is a learning difficulty that affects 10% of the population. That means that one in ten of us are dyslexic - a huge figure, so it's about time we started talking about it. 

Although it's classed as a disability, people with dyslexia are often good problem-solvers, can understand complex situations and tend to think laterally. There are so many strengths that can have a positive impact in the workplace (and beyond!) - and this should be celebrated. 

What is dyslexia?

Most employers will have staff with dyslexia, whether diagnosed or not. It's important to be able to identify any signs, but to also support staff where support is needed. People with dyslexia have trouble reading accurately and fluently, and may also have trouble with reading comprehension, spelling, and writing. 

So how does this impact day-to-day tasks? Consider all the jobs that involve reading, spelling and writing. We've listed some common ones for you: 

  • Reading - Presentations, staff meetings, emails, CVs, job applications  
  • Spelling and Writing - Emails, press releases, job descriptions, social media posts

When you list all of the tasks you do on a daily basis, you realise just how many include reading and writing. 

What can I do to help?

As an employer, there are a number of things you can do to support staff with dyslexia so they're able to achieve their full potential, and have a fulfilling career.  

You should adjust the needs according to the employee, for example, how severe their dyslexia is and the job role itself. It's important to note: an employee does not need to have had a diagnostic assessment in order to receive reasonable adjustments from the business.

These may include the following:

  1. Workplace Needs Assessment - carried out by a dyslexia specialist, to determine the appropriate support required for the individual
  2. Different methods of communication - replace written communication with verbal where possible, even if it's picking up the phone and leaving a voicemail
  3. Allow extra time - if there's an assignment that requires a quick turnaround or deadline, give the individual extra time to read and complete the task
  4. Meetings - use visual aids such as PowerPoint, reduce the amount of text, and where possible, use diagrams and images instead. Try coloured text, or highlight key areas that require special attention
  5. Assistive technologies - if your budget allows it, invest in assistive technologies such as a screen-reader, scanning pen and mind-mapping software - all have proven to be effective tools and can be a real game-changer for some individuals.
  6. Be font smart - Good fonts for people with dyslexia include Helvetica, Courier, Arial, Verdana and Computer Modern Uni- code, whereas Arial Italics should be avoided at all costs, as it decreases readability.

What common strengths do dyslexic people share?

There's a lot of negative language around disabilities in general, so it's time we started to change that! It's important to remember that there are positives to thinking differently - if we were all the same, how dull would the world - and our workplaces - be?!

So, with that in mind, here are some of the common strengths that dyslexic people share.

  1. They are 'Picture Thinkers': enabling more ideas, solutions and opportunities
  2. Sharper peripheral vision and good spatial awareness
  3. Entrepreneurially-minded 
  4. Highly creative and tend to excel in visual and creative fields 

Nobody should be held back from fulfilling their potential at work, whatever the circumstances may be. For further information, please visit The British Dyslexia Association

For permanent, temporary and part-time roles, get in touch with our consultants at Ascendant Recruitment. If you're looking for your first role or looking to change roles, we can help you.

Celebrating National Work Life Week

National Work Life Week (7-11th October) is an opportunity for employers to focus on wellbeing at work and look at ways they can better improve their employees' work-life balance. 

We're incredibly passionate about flexible working, and always strive to create an environment that supports working parents and those who require flexible hours to accommodate various requirements and commitments. 

An extremely important part of employee wellness is ensuring that stress levels are managed effectively within the work environment. This should be an ongoing task for all team members, managers, coordinators and directors in the workplace. 

From a business perspective, we all want our employees to be working at their best, most productive performance levels. When any staff members take time off work, this can have a negative impact on the business. That's why it's always best to create a supportive work culture that is receptive and strives to meet its staff needs.  

So, as a quick summary - here are 4 things your business can incorporate throughout the year, to ensure your employees' wellbeing and happiness remains a priority.

#1 Flexible working opportunities - to help your employees achieve a better work-life balance

#2 Social activities - such as away days, pub lunches and family picnics 

#3 Wellbeing in the office - offer subsidised yoga classes, massages, or ask employees to participate in a Step Count Challenge 

#4 Engage and listen - ensure each and every employee has the opportunity to voice concerns or issues with their manager. This may be in the form of a 1-2-1 meeting or perhaps an online forum on your intranet.

By effectively managing stress in the workplace, and supporting flexible working, every member of staff can enjoy increased productivity and a happier environment.  

For permanent, temporary and part-time roles, get in touch with our consultants at Ascendant Recruitment.