Higher employee retention, better mental health and a stronger sense of belonging in the workplace are just a few of the rewards employers have seen from bringing neurodiversity benefits to their workers.
Rethink Benefits Senior Vice President Mike Civello led a panel of human resources executives during a recent webinar for The Conference Board, a global business leadership think tank. Their message: All companies can reap benefits through better designing their work environment—from the interview process to life in the office—to be inclusive of the specific needs of neurodiverse individuals.
“Neurodiversity is not a condition. There are differences in the way we all learn and communicate and behave,” Civello said during the webinar. “We want to lead the way for employers who want to do more for including the neurodivergent population.”
Neurodiversity is a term that describes the natural cognitive variances that lead to differences in the ways people learn and communicate. While diagnosed conditions such as autism spectrum disorder and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder are known to be on the rise, Rethink Benefits’ design reflects the reality that every workplace employs individuals who are neurodiverse—whether or not a diagnosis exists.
Employees with children who are neurodiverse often have a difficult time meeting their children’s needs through the offerings of traditional health plans. Helping these employees find solutions can make them far more likely to stay in their jobs, while also making them happier and more productive at work.
Scott Haverlock, Vice President of Compensation and Benefits for Aramark, an early adopter of Rethink’s platform, said this was the business case Aramark made for adding Rethink to its employee benefits offering.
“We didn’t sell it on ROI, we sold it on filling a benefit gap and creating incredible loyalty among the families who would be served by this new product,” Haverlock said. “Five years in, it’s been wildly successful.”
At global financial services firm UBS, Michael O’Connor, head of U.S. benefits, said the decision to make Rethink available to employees was “one of the easiest things we ever sailed through our leadership discussion.”
“The families of our employees are as important as the employees themselves,” O’Connor said. “There are critical gaps at key junctures in the lives of these dependents. Rethink provided a solution to address those gaps.”
Adam Brown, Global Solutions Consultant and Neurodiversity Program Ambassador for VMWare, and Deepa MacPherson, Wellbeing Benefits Program Manager at NVIDIA, also said Rethink helped their companies build equity and inclusion for neurodiverse workers.
“We are proud to say that Rethink was instrumental in helping us to launch our ERG, NVIDIA Disabilities Network,” MacPherson said.
Rethink Benefits is available to employees as a suite of online-based services leveraging clinical best practices and technology to aid caregivers of children who are neurodiverse, and to managers through its Neurodiversity Inclusion Center, which can help provide solutions to challenges neurodiverse individuals face in the workplace.
Rethink is the only clinical training solution and educational system for both caregivers and managers.
Civello and the panel specifically addressed how HR managers can make the business case for adding Rethink to their benefits offerings, and for providing more solutions to create an inclusive workplace for the neurodiverse.
Among their observations:
Rethink’s resources can benefit the entire workplace. The CDC estimates that 1 in 6 children is diagnosed with a developmental disability. While this is already a substantial figure, Civello and the panel emphasized the programs and strategies Rethink brings to workplaces can benefit every employee—and more importantly, even those without a formal diagnosis, or don’t wish to share that they experience a condition like social anxiety, can access the program and find value.
Every benefits program has coverage gaps. Rethink helps fill gaps that can be particularly tricky. There is a significant shortage of providers of services to parents of children with developmental disabilities. Through its evidence-based online training resources and 24/7 virtual access to behavioral health experts, Rethink fills these gaps in a way that fits into the busy lives of these families.
ROI isn’t always measured in dollars. Better mental health, strong feelings of loyalty to their employer and an overall company culture that is more inclusive of the neurodiverse are all benefits clients reported from adding Rethink to their offerings.
All companies stand to benefit from making changes to their benefits offerings and work environments that support inclusivity for neurodiverse individuals, Civello said.
“These employees are already working at every organization. You don’t need to have an autism or neurodiversity targeted hiring program to justify doing this work,” he said. “Every employer should be considering a neurodivergent inclusive program.”
Hear more from these experts by listening to the full session recording of A Cultural Revolution: Health Benefits Teaming Up with HR to Drive Neurodiversity Inclusion.