The cost of untreated Adult ADHD has shown to have a significant economic impact on society. Employers incur much larger expenses due to lost productivity, absenteeism, and increased health care costs due to coexisting medical conditions. Despite these huge economic losses, employers are still unaware how pervasive ADHD is in the adult population. In the U.S. approximately 4% of adults have ADHD yet less than 20% have been diagnosed or treated. With growing awareness and continuing research, it will be incumbent on employers to address the issues Adult ADHD brings to the workplace. The projected lower growth of the labor force due to shifts in population demographics will present new challenges in filling their needs. Employers will need effective strategies to attract creative talent. The logical approach for employers is to seek help in managing employees with ADHD to ensure each member of their team is able to contribute to the organizations success.
A Look at ADHD @ Work
Managers or Human Resource professionals observing signs of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in an employee, are often unfamiliar with how to handle the situation. They are often unsure if a reasonable accommodation is needed or what it should be. Often, the only resource available is a referral an Employee Assistance Program (EAP). Additionally, what appears to be a small problem may actually be a signal of a more serious underlying issue. This disorder can affect employees at any level within an organization and therefore all levels of management should be familiar with the disorder. Moreover, many people who are impacted by ADHD are unaware that they have it.
Common Barriers in the Workplace
The areas most commonly effected in the workplace are how the symptoms of ADHD impact the employee’s behavior, as well as the reaction of co-workers and supervisors to the ADHD-symptomatic behaviors or diagnosis and its consequences.
Impact of Behavior on Employee
- Poor planning skills
- Memory issues
- Behavior awareness
- Lack of motivation
Reaction of coworkers and supervisors
- Interpersonal conflict
- Performance ratings
- Loss of wages
- Higher accident rate
Impact of Behavior on Employee
Symptoms displayed in the workplace can have a large influence on how productive the employee is at their job. Effective treatment can reduce symptoms and help a person perform their job at their optimum level. Furthermore, factors such as work environment, job tasks, coping skills and workplace accommodations may influence an employee’s ability to succeed. However, some common factors that must be overcome are poor planning skills, memory issues, self-discipline, behavior awareness, lack of motivation and concentration.
Reaction of Coworkers and Supervisors
The employee faces struggles in the workplace, not the least of which is the reaction of co-workers and supervisors. Areas that are often problematic include poor planning skills, inability to transfer knowledge to others, difficulty learning new skills and failure to follow through on commitments. Additionally, the reaction of co-workers and supervisors may include avoidance, complaints or interpersonal conflicts.
While many of the symptoms can be issues for individuals suffering from ADHD, some may also seriously impact the job performance of others within the organization that need to be addressed. Among the challenges people with ADHD may experience in the workplace include, interpersonal conflict, tardiness, high absenteeism, high error rate, inability to change and unreliability. Consequences for these behaviors could include coaching, training, reprimands, suspensions, demotions, loss of pay, and termination.