Strategies to support dyslexic employees

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Constable Alice Fox claims her superior officer destroyed her career through a campaign of workplace bullying – most of which was aimed at her learning disability – now, she’s taken her claim to the courts. But what can you do to better support your dyslexic staff members?  One HR consultant says there are some simple strategies employers can adopt.

Recognize the signs

“It’s important that HR understands that dyslexia affects people in a number of different ways,” says Sharon Goldie. “Identifying its signs is vital to both the employee as well as your organisation.”

“The most obvious signs to look out for include inconsistent spelling, poor time-keeping, difficulties understanding written directions, difficulties taking notes at meetings and/or a disorganised workspace,” she revealed.

But that’s not to say dyslexic employees can’t be competent employees – the condition is completely unlinked to intelligence and many successful leaders are known to suffer from dyslexia including Richard Branson and Steve Jobs.

“Dyslexics often have average or above average intelligence with excellent creative thinking skills which allows them to see a variety of solutions to a problem,” explained Goldie.

Educate

“It’s important that HR understands dyslexia and communicates this to management throughout the company,” said Goldie. Adapting your workplace to make it dyslexic-friendly will only be successful if management are aware of how to best work with their staff.

“It is vital that line managers throughout the company are given training about what to look for and how best to maximise the work performance of a dyslexic employee,” urged Goldie.
 
Communicate

One common struggle for dyslexics is taking in information that’s written down, revealed Goldie. “Managers should be trained to look for alternative ways of communicating the same information,” she said.

According to Goldie, there are several ways to improve communication channels;
  • Give instructions both verbally and in a written format
  • Provide written instructions on coloured paper
  • Follow up instructions with an email
  • Check all information has been understood
Separate

While you don’t want to isolate any employee on a personal level, Goldie says those with dyslexia often struggle to work in an open-plan office due to the variety of distractions.

Try to allocate a quiet workplace “away from doors, phones and loud machinery,” she advised. “Preferably a quiet room for themselves or a bookable room for times when they need to concentrate on a specific task without any disruptions.”

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