The way to a better working life .....
Often people wonder whether it's worth finding out about dyslexia support in later life, with many not realising that challenges they are facing are actually associated with dyslexia. Recently I received this email from Matt, someone I had the pleasure of working with early last year. He said he wanted to share his story to encourage others to take the first step in finding out about dyslexia workplace support. I am extremely grateful to him for these kind words. This is what he had to say:
After many years of living with dyslexia and it giving me little to no problems (I had run my own company for a number of years and was very involved with various local groups) and as I'd never let my dyslexia get in the way, it was never really a problem. It was only after I had a change in career and to be fair, I spent a lot more time sending emails and having to write to people, that I had a massive loss of confidence. I thought that I was losing my memory - among many other issues that I could not understand. However, I was sure that this was related to my dyslexia and started to think about what I should do.
The answer to this question came quite quickly, I was looking though LinkedIn for people and found Janette Beetham. After reading about Janette's work helping people in the workplace with issues similar to mine, I sent a message asking if she could help me (after all, being in my 40's I was feeling unsure and wondered whether I would be a helpless case). I soon had a call back and we spoke on the phone. I explained my problems and the difficulties I was experiencing - and that I was sure I was in the early stages of Alzheimer's, dementia or something worse! In our conversation I was reassured that this experience was not at all uncommon for people with dyslexia when having a change of career or even just a change in working environment. Janette suggested that I had a workplace needs assessment and with this she would be able to suggest some tools and strategies which might help me cope more effectively. She explained the assessment would take place in my working environment and I would need to involve my line manager (in this case my MD). I said that I would need to get back to her after speaking to said person.
Well, it took a while for me to get the confidence to have the conversation. In time it happened, Janette came and we spoke for a couple of hours. Digging in to my history from school and my different places of work to my current employment. We also had a walk around the office and the environment I was working in. Following this there was a talk with my MD to discuss the problems I was experiencing and things the company could do to help. I was shocked and so grateful at this point that all of my issues were normal and quite easy to solve. No, she was never going to be able to get me to spell complicated words or even write amazing email, but what was to follow was incredible. With the aid of the talking function on my laptop and a pair of head phones, I was able to compose emails that made sense. Having previously asked colleagues to check my emails I was producing messages that didn't need to be checked and when they were coming back unchanged my confidence grew - and with new found self awareness and new strategies, in no time I was back to the person I had previously been.
I could go on saying how much Janette changed my working life. I would encourage anybody who has a company, who feels they could have staff that are struggling, to make contact with her. You will not only have more productive members of staff but confident ones too. Likewise, if you are a 'me', it doesn't matter what your age, it’s never too late to start the ball rolling to a better working life.
It’s the best thing I ever did!
If you would like more information about how we might be able to help you or a member of your team please do contact us. You can do this either via Facebook or by using the contact form.
What employers can do to help their dyslexic employees.
Dyslexia is a ‘hidden disability’ and due to a lack of awareness it is widely believed to simply affect an individual’s ability to read & write. As the result of this, many adults who are experiencing challenges with their tasks within the workplace may not necessarily consider it could dyslexia that is causing them to struggle. Added to this, the stigma and prejudice which is also associated with dyslexia, many of these individuals may be reluctant to seek help as they are fearful that this may have negative outcomes. Commonly these individuals have concerns about how they are perceived by others, how this may affect their credibility and the potential wider and long term impact on their career.
The types of challenges the dyslexic individual experiences in the workplace will vary dependent upon their own unique challenges, their role and the environment they work in. However, some of the more common challenges include; time management, organisation, planning, structuring written communication and presenting information. If these challenges are affecting their ability to meet targets and the quality of their work is not up to a desired standard, line managers who have no understanding of dyslexia (and the associated neuro-divergent ‘conditions’) are likely to see this as a performance issue and may erroneously initiate a formal performance management procedure rather than signpost the individual towards a source of information and screening. Therefore it is imperative line managers and HR personnel have an awareness of what dyslexia actually is so they can appropriately support all employees. Also it can be invaluable to have Accredited Dyslexia Champions within the organisation as these knowledgeable, impartial colleagues can answer questions and signpost individuals and/or their managers towards the organisation's recognised process of support.
This post contains an excerpt from the recently published research paper:
Open Journal of Social Sciences
Vol.05 No.06(2017), Article ID:76910,23 pages
Workplace Dyslexia & Specific Learning Difficulties―Productivity, Engagement and Well-Being
An Oxfordshire-based engineer has developed an exciting new software application which saves time and simplifies a set of tasks which plumbers can often find challenging and time consuming.
Rich Cartwright, who studied Marine Engineering at Plymouth University, realised there was a ‘need’ for an effective tool for this type of work because he was being approached by countless plumbers asking him to carry out these tasks on their behalf.
The tasks being referred to are related to conducting room by room heat loss calculations as required to comply with the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) The Domestic Heating Design Guide EN 12831. These calculations are important for plumbers, heating engineers and surveyors yet they can be a real ‘headache’ to calculate and present to clients and this can be especially so for those who have ‘processing differences’ such as dyslexia and dyscalculia.
Rich has been able to utilise his vast practical work experience and his dyslexia related strengths of problem solving, creativity and ‘big picture’ thinking to undertake the research, design and development of this new plumber’s tool which he has simply called ‘Heat Engineer’ software.
Whilst the features of the software include:
It would appear this innovative piece of software is actually one of the first industry focused, ‘dyslexia friendly’ work tools - and it is particularly relevant that it is related to engineering. The engineering profession is known to be a particularly attractive career path for those with dyslexia and other associated ‘processing differences’ – and many of these individuals will not be aware that their, often not literacy related, challenges are associated with them being amongst the 15 – 18% of the workforce who are ‘neurodiverse’.
There are countless ‘literate dyslexics’ working in every type of workplace yet many may not be in a position to confidently explore their dyslexia related strengths. Many may be experiencing challenges which have the potential of affecting their wellbeing as well as their productivity - due to lack of awareness, appropriate support or useful ‘tools’.
Rich Cartwright says he has put a lot of ‘blood and sweat’ into developing this new tool and he passionately believes this will make a real difference to those who have struggled with undertaking heat loss calculations until now.
To find out more about the software please visit:
Or to find out more about Dyslexia in the Workplace please visit:
Janette Beetham MIC FRSA - Workplace Dyslexia Consultant
Please follow on Twitter @JanetteBeetham @neuro_diversity
An increasing number of forward-thinking organisations are taking a pro-active approach to neurodiversity in the workplace.
7 reasons why embracing and supporting 'neurodiversity' is good for business:
If you have a member of staff who is under-performing have you considered whether it could be their 'processing differences' rather than their ability which is holding them back? Would you like to find out more about how to ensure managers and HR can take the most appropriate steps to improve workplace performance?
If we can be of assistance to you please contact us.
Janette Beetham MIC, FRSA
Director - Right Resources Limited
When we return to work having had a break from our work tasks, it can become all too apparent that we have work tasks that we cope less well with....and we may even have deferred doing these until after the holidays!? If this is you then this article may be of interest.
First of all I would suggest you ask yourself why this task (or the tasks) are causing you problems? If you simply don't like the task - then I'm afraid that isn't really anything anyone else can help you with, however if the task is something you actually struggle to do there could be a number of reasons for this including:
1. Lack of appropriate training / induction.
2. The training may not have been delivered in a way that was 'accessible' to you.
3. The work 'micro' environment may not be conducive to undertaking this type of task.
4. The 'tools' you have been given may not be 'accessible'.
5. You may know or suspect you have a learning challenge or 'processing difference' (dyslexia, dyscalculia, dyspraxia, ADD/ADHD or Aspergers Syndrome).
(It is important to remember that we are all different....and as a consequence we may need things tailored slightly to fit our individual needs).
Whether the reason for your struggle is due to something on the list above, or something else entirely, there is quite often increased anxiety associated with these challenging tasks and in the longer term, work related stress can result... unless we seek help and get appropriate guidance and support.
Unfortunately most people resist asking for help with their work tasks because they fear this will be seen as a weakness and a risk that people will question their suitability for their role. In my experience it is only those who feel confident, supported and secure in their job who actually ask for support in this 'pro-active' way - and this is extremely rare. Sadly, the majority of those who are struggling tend to delay seeking help and it is only when their poor performance has been noticed or when they experience problems with their mental health - that they then see no alternative but to ask for help!
The 3 important steps to overcoming challenges with work tasks are:
1. Self Awareness
Do you really know or understand why you experience challenges with certain work tasks?
Do you know what the very best coping strategies (and tools) are for You to successfully complete these tasks in a timely manner?
Based on your own self awareness (of your strengths and weaknesses) and using the most appropriate coping strategies for You to undertake these work tasks do you feel confident in your ability to complete the task to the highest possible standards?
When we can answer YES to all of these we are then best placed to complete work tasks efficiently and feel confident in our ability - thus increasing our chances of positive work related outcomes - including career progression.
If you are struggling with your work tasks and have concerns about asking for help in your place of work do contact us and we will be happy to answer your questions in confidence.
Right Resources Limited.... the Foundation for better working
Embracing Neuro-diversity * Encouraging 'accessibility' * Untapping Potential
Janette Beetham MIC FRSA
Sadly, prejudice and lack of awareness perpetuates a very negative perception of dyslexia and many workplaces still see it as an unwanted inconvenience which they hope will simply go away. However, an increasing number of enlightened organisations are recognizing how becoming more 'accessible' in their processes and embracing neuro-diversity in general can make the most of their most valuable asset ....their people, as well as ensuring they are Equality Act 2010 compliant.
For the full article please click here.
This comes from an article published by Channel Chamber of Commerce earlier in the year.
Most of these ‘accessible’ organisations have a set process which they follow should they know that an individual has ‘processing differences’ such as dyslexia and dyscalculia – or any other ‘disability’. (This formal process is usually a well tested procedure which fits with their internal systems and links into their current Disability Policy). Of course, an employer may not have had a 'declared' dyslexic employee previously and organisations may only be at the beginning of their ‘accessibility journey' (meaning they are not aware of what they need to do). If this is the case it is important to approach disclosure with confidence and clarity to help employers' to understand. You will need to point out the strengths that your dyslexia gives you alongside your challenges/needs. For instance ' My dyslexia effects my short term memory which means that I have become very good at being organised, keeping written notes and check-lists. What I would like is some software/support to help me manage this even better.'
Having a good rapport with a line manager can make it much easier to discuss any work related challenges & concerns. Therefore working on your relationship with your manager and having regular appraisals/catch-up meetings can help you to feel 'safe' with them before disclosing your dyslexia. (If there is someone else within management or HR that you enjoy a good relationship with then this may be the best person to talk to first). The line manager would most probably then liaise with Human Resources for guidance and then dyslexic individual would usually be guided according to the organisation’s Dyslexia Policy or established process.
Telling your employer does not only avoid misunderstandings but can lead to the support you deserve. The type of support will vary according individual needs but would most likely be one of these:
· One to One Coping Strategies Coaching
· A Workplace Needs Assessment
The first step would normally be to arrange for a Workplace Needs Assessment in order to get a full documented report on the specific challenges related to day to day work tasks outlining a recommended program of support – such as specialist coaching and any suitable assistive software. (An employer that has previous experience of dyslexia may simply arrange for the individual to have a series of coping strategies coaching sessions with a trusted specialist).
Attitudes towards dyslexia and other processing differences (specific learning difficulties) vary depending upon the level of awareness within the organisation, the corporate culture, internal procedures and the personal experience of line managers and supervisors. Consequently, each individual dyslexic person will need to make decisions on how best to approach their own employer. Doing some initial ground work on how the organisation has worked with dyslexic employees in recent times should help to ensure you approach any future dyslexia focused conversations in the way you feel you will get the best outcome.
Finally, whether to tell your employer about your dyslexia has to be your own personal decision. This post focuses on what should be put in place by the employer (as per the British Dyslexia Association's Code of Practice for Employers) following disclosure but unfortunately some organisations are not yet aware of the need for them to comply with the Equality Act 2010 in relation to dyslexia !
Janette Beetham BA Hons., MIC., FRSA
It is now becoming more widely recognized that an ‘accessible’ workplace, particularly a 'dyslexia friendly' one, makes good business sense. It can result in a more effective and a more productive work environment which has the potential to improve both internal and external communications. In the more ‘enlightened’ organisations (those that understand dyslexia and associated processing differences) it would be anticipated that disclosure would be received with a much better understanding on the part of line managers and HR Personnel.
Whether an employee should inform their employer or not about a Specific Learning Difficulty (such as dyslexia and dyscalculia) should be a simple and straight forward question to answer - ‘yes’. However, due to the lack of comprehensive understanding of these ‘processing differences’ across the employment sphere and the tendency for dyslexic individuals to not want to draw attention to themselves, the answer to this particular question is extremely subjective.
Many dyslexic individuals describe themselves as feeling they’ve always have had to work harder than their peers – saying they’ve simply kept their heads down and tried their utmost to ‘keep up’. Thus for many ‘grit’, determination and hard work tends to be part of their recipe for success. However, for many of them this is also accompanied by poor self-concept, low self esteem and confidence issues. Therefore talking to someone about any challenges and ‘opening up’ about being in need of help may not sit easily with them. Whilst the problems they are having may themselves be stressful, the thought of disclosure can be the cause of extreme anxiety – which can actually make their work challenges even worse.
Sadly, this means that often in cases where dyslexic employees are experiencing problems coping with their work tasks and time management, the first time dyslexia is openly discussed is when formal performance procedures have been actioned.
It should be noted that employers in the United Kingdom have a legal obligation to provide reasonable adjustments (Equality Act 2010) and these individuals should have specialist help available to them. However, whether to actually disclose has to be a personal choice because many employers are still unaware of their legal obligations with regards to dyslexic individuals! Telling your employer means that you should be able to receive appropriate support (that is a right and not a privilege) and disclosure can help avoid the misunderstandings that lead to formal procedures.
Attitudes towards dyslexia and specific learning difficulties vary depending upon the level of awareness within the organisation, the corporate culture, procedures and the awareness and personal experience of line managers and supervisors. Consequently, each individual dyslexic person will need to make decisions on how best to approach their own employer. Doing some initial ground work on how the organisation has worked with dyslexic employees previously should help to ensure you approach any future dyslexia focused conversations in the way you feel you will get the best outcome.
Janette Beetham BA Hons., MIC., FRSA