By Kate Griggs

Neurodiversity Celebration Week is the perfect time to celebrate the amazing skills that dyslexics and other neurodiverse thinkers bring to the workplace.

Dyslexic Thinking skills are vital to the future of work. The World Economic Forum’s 2023 Future of Jobs Report reveals the skills companies say will be the most important today through to 2027. As technology takes over more tasks, companies will increasingly seek talent with soft skills, or power skills, like creative thinking, analytical thinking and technological literacy, as well as curiosity, lifelong learning, resilience, flexibility and agility. While these skills are in high demand, they are in short supply. But one group of thinkers has exactly the skills organisations are looking for: dyslexics.

New technology, like AI, can also do the tasks dyslexics typically find difficult, such as spelling and reading masses of information, which is removing barriers.  Where AI thinking aggregates, Dyslexic Thinking innovates so AI and dyslexics are perfect co-pilots. Dyslexic Thinkers can and will move businesses forward so every organisation must understand the benefits and value of Dyslexic Thinking — or risk being left behind.

Yet, a recent report from Randstad and Made By Dyslexia revealed that while 66% of HR leaders believe their organisations understand the value of Dyslexic Thinking only 14% of Dyslexic Thinkers agree. 3 out of 4 dyslexics still hide their dyslexia from their employers. Instead of dyslexics hiding their dyslexia, workplaces need to redefine and see dyslexia as a skill to empower employees to let their amazing Dyslexic Strengths stand out. To do this, we need to understand how Dyslexic Thinkers think.

Dyslexic Thinking is defined in the dictionary as an approach to problem-solving, assessing information, and learning, often used by people with dyslexia, it involves pattern recognition, spatial reasoning, lateral thinking, and interpersonal communication.

Let’s take a closer look at each of the Dyslexic Thinking skills and how they can be an advantage in the workplace:

Imagining

84% of dyslexics are above average at Imagining. Dyslexic people see the world differently and this helps them drive innovation, coming up with new ideas and approaches that others can’t. As we move forward and embrace new technologies, we need workers who can imagine the unimaginable, adapt and create. That’s where dyslexia comes in.

Visualising

Dyslexics are great at creating new pieces of work or giving new ideas a completely new spin. Many dyslexic people are great visualisers, which means they can take a problem as a whole, and imagine how something will look after changes. This visual thinking lets them imagine new solutions, from building 3D models to reimagining computer software.

Reasoning

Dyslexics have above-average reasoning skills, allowing us to make connections across complex issues, subjects, and data, and come up with innovative ways to problem solve. This ability to make sense of an issue makes dyslexics excellent big-picture thinkers – dyslexics can cut through the noise, rather than getting stuck in the details, thinking around a problem.

Communicating

Often, employers can get caught up in typos and writing errors, but if you look past that you’ll notice Dyslexic Thinkers are often great at communicating with others, excelling at simplifying concepts, building narratives or selling a vision. These skills can help make them great leaders by building, supporting, and empowering teams, people, and organisations.

Training everyone within your organisation, regardless of their level or role, is key to ensuring a company-wide understanding of Dyslexic Thinking. This will foster a culture of openness where everyone is aware of the value of Dyslexic Thinking and the strengths it brings. If an employee is, or thinks they may be dyslexic, encourage them to take Made By Dyslexia’s free online test. The results will help them (and you) understand their Dyslexic Thinking skills and profile so you can provide adjustments to help them thrive. These include things like leaning into their strengths and using technology to support their challenges.

Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) that advocate for Dyslexic Thinkers are also a brilliant resource for everyone. These groups open feedback channels between employees and senior leaders and signify a commitment to ensuring dyslexics and other neurodiverse employees are heard.

Dyslexic leaders can also lead the way in driving cultural change by joining the tens of thousands of people who have added dyslexia as a skill on their LinkedIn profiles. Another brilliant way to do this is to include a line in your email signature – mine says “I’m #MadeByDyslexia – expect big thinking & small typos”. I have had so many people tell me they are dyslexic too, and not one comment on my spelling and typos!

Empowering Dyslexic Thinking in your organisation is vital. Dyslexics have the exact skills organisations need to thrive in the age of AI and plug the global skills gap. Redefining dyslexia as a skill is key to future-proofing your organisation.


About the author

Kate Griggs is the founder and CEO of the global charity Made By Dyslexia, host of the Lessons in Dyslexic Thinking podcast and the author of This is Dyslexia (Penguin) and Empowering Dyslexic Thinking at Work, a free access course on LinkedIn Learning.