ADHD at Work: A Guide for Employers

If you are reading this document it most likely means that you suspect that one of your employees may have ADHD, or one of your employees has disclosed that they have ADHD.  The hope would be that your employee has been evaluated by a qualified expert in the field of ADHD, has been diagnosed, and is currently receiving some form of treatment which may or may not be in the form of medication. If you think that your employee may have ADHD, but they have not disclosed, discussing performance difficulties and possible strategies that would assist them may be beneficial. Diagnosing your employee with ADHD or asking if they have ADHD is never appropriate; this needs to be left to the medical professionals to asses and to employees to disclose. Treatment for adult ADHD can and should be through several modalities, often education about the condition being the first step.

ADHD is a neurobiological medical condition recognized worldwide as impacting approximately four percent of adults.  Most people think ADHD is a childhood disorder that is outgrown.  However, current research tells us that at least two thirds of children with ADHD grow into adults who remain at least somewhat impaired by their ADHD symptoms. Due to ADHD being a “hidden disorder” many adults still remain undiagnosed or misdiagnosed with other disorders such as depression. The core symptoms of ADHD are: difficulty with attention regulation, impulsivity and hyperactivity, and the more recently recognized emotional dysregulation, are easy to list however their impact on an individual’s functioning is often complex and not easy for others or even the adult with ADHD to understand.

Due to the continued misunderstanding and stigma surrounding adult ADHD, employees may be very reluctant to disclose their ADHD. They may have experienced past unpleasant situations; being unfairly labeled as being lazy, stupid and unmotivated; being targeted as an unwanted employee; being misunderstood as a seeker preferential treatment; and told that their ADHD does not exist and that they are just making excuses. If your employee has just disclosed their ADHD it is possible that they have struggled in silence for some time before deciding to come forward, or they may not have learned that they have ADHD until recently.

Many adults with ADHD perform their jobs extremely well and find that some of their ADHD traits: high energy, problem solving, creativity, and being able to hyper-focus, are significant benefits in their chosen career.  For other adults with ADHD, some of their ADHD symptoms may cause difficulties in the workplace. Gaining an understanding about ADHD as an employer and allowing your employee to implement simple strategies is often all that is required to successfully satisfy both parties and increase job performance. In some cases additional accommodations are required, but these need not cause undue hardship for the employer nor inconvenience the employee or their co-workers.

For further information on adult ADHD, please visit our website at www.caddac.ca

How and if ADHD impacts an Employee’s job performance depends on many factors:

  • The type and severity of ADHD symptoms
  • The suitability of the job
  • Other strengths that help to offset impairments
  • How successfully strategies to offset weaknesses have been implemented

*It is important to understand that information about a disability is personal and private and must be treated confidentially. Persons with disabilities are not required to disclose to information about the nature of their disability, unless specifically needed to better accommodate the needs of the person with disabilities. Information about an employee’s disability and/or accommodations should never be shared with anyone unless it is necessary and the employee has provided permission.