Supporting Teammates with ADHD in the Workplace

By April 2, 2020 March 14th, 2022 Identifying Talent

Last Updated on March 14, 2022 by Dave Schoenbeck

ADHD in the workplace is surprisingly common.

However, it is frequently misdiagnosed or not diagnosed, and many adults don’t even know they have it. Employees with ADHD can exhibit some of the telltale signs of a problem employee, but if an underlying diagnosis is a cause, you owe it to your team members to provide the resources they need to succeed.

A clean-cut young man looks at the camera with a confused look that represents our need to support AHDD in the workplace

How Does ADHD Look Like at Work?

To adequately address ADHD in the workplace, it’s essential to know what signs to look out for. 

Employees with ADHD might struggle with focusing on one particular task and may find themselves becoming distracted quickly. As a result, they might have a lower threshold for boredom and can fall into procrastination or poor time management habits. Additionally, they might forget small details or overlook some task components. 

However, an employee with ADHD is still a valuable part of a diverse workforce, and there are many potential benefits to an ADHD diagnosis. Just remember, Albert Einstein was said to have ADHD. So you wouldn’t mind making a few workplace adjustments to keep him on your team. 

How Can You Support An ADHD Coworker?

First of all, it’s essential to understand your legal responsibilities. ADHD is protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act, so if your business must comply with the ADA, you should assist any employees that ask for reasonable accommodations. 

However, due to size or status, many companies don’t typically need to comply with the ADA to address ADHD in the workplace. From here, it’s a matter of decency and empathy. If you have an employee who does good work, has a great attitude, and is generally a valued member of the team, you should want to do what you can to help them succeed. 

Here are some accommodations you might want to consider, both for employees that are open about their diagnosis of ADHD in the workplace as well as those who might not feel comfortable disclosing it at all. 

  • First of all, communication is critical. If you know you’re supervising an employee with ADHD, ask them if they need any accommodations. Just because they haven’t mentioned any before doesn’t mean they’re not struggling in secret. Foster a culture of open dialogue, so your employees feel safe asking for what they need.
  • For some employees with ADHD, open offices can wreak havoc on their senses. Consider allowing employees to wear headphones or work in a quiet, private office. A white noise machine can also make the distractions less noticeable. This will help any employee who finds themselves easily distracted. 
  • Don’t expect employees to answer emails as soon as you send them. If an employee with ADHD is intensely focused on a task, it can be hard to switch gears to answer emails. Instead, allow your employees to set their schedules as long as emails are responded to in a timely fashion. 
  • Be understanding if employees take more breaks than you think are necessary. While everyone does need to be at their desk, sometimes a five-minute water cooler break can help an employee with ADHD get some of the excess energy out of their system. As long as the work gets done, be flexible with how employees structure their days. 
  • Provide feedback. If an employee’s performance is slipping, be honest. The work needs to get done. While firing an employee with ADHD is a last resort, it might be a necessary step if they do not improve with accommodations. 
  • When all else fails, consult a business coach. If you’re unsure whether an employee is struggling with ADHD or just being difficult, a business coach can offer you an outside perspective. 

Supporting your employees with ADHD in the workplace is just one of many ways to be a better leader. So please fill out my contact form, and let’s schedule a video call to work on your most significant business opportunity.


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