The Myths And Impact Of ADHD At Work

2nd May 2023

There are many associated myths with those who have ADHD. Still, it's important to understand that these myths are often based on misinformation or a lack of understanding of the condition. By gaining a better understanding of ADHD and dispelling these myths, we can create a more supportive and inclusive workplace for individuals living with neurodivergence. 

For this post, we’ve spoken to Natalie Moore - Customer Experience Performance Coach at inclusive workplace tails.com to learn more about her experiences, the myths she’s been up against, how ADHD has impacted her career, and the support she’s received from tails.com. 

The top 3 ADHD myths

Firstly, it’s important to note that ADHD is complex, and symptoms can vary significantly from one individual to another. Some common symptoms include hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattention. However, the severity of these symptoms can vary widely and manifest differently in different people. For example, some people with ADHD may struggle with hyperactivity and restlessness, while others may experience difficulties with attention and organisation.

ADHD isn’t a one-size-fits-all condition, and symptoms can change over time or in response to different environments or situations. It is not uncommon for people with ADHD to also have co-occurring conditions, such as anxiety, depression, or learning disabilities. Because of the diversity of symptoms and experiences associated with ADHD, individuals are recommended to seek personalised treatment options that address their specific needs and challenges.

Myth 1: ADHD at work looks like the man who used to be a naughty boy in the classroom who wouldn't sit down, and now he won't keep quiet or stay on task.

“I have ADHD, I'm not a man, and I excelled in school. 

Purely because I had solid structure, guidance and people telling me where to be, when to be there and how long for, I barely studied but got great results until 6th year when we were given more autonomy and expected to be responsible for our own progress. When I got to uni, that was a whole different ball game. No one was there to poke and prod me that assignments were due or my grades were slipping. I worked to the absolute deadline because I have a major issue with time blindness (apparently, I believe I exist outside of time and things that take other people 30 mins will absolutely take me 5).

I still struggle with this, but I have a boatload of support from my manager, who helps me focus on what needs to be focused on and lets me jump from task to task when my brain is having an off day and needs a change up! He is mindful of where I'm at and helps me to work out what I should be doing. He's bent over backwards to ensure I feel supported, happy and fulfilled in my job.”

Myth 2: Having ADHD at work is a negative thing in a team and can cause more issues than solutions.

“It’s because of my ADHD that I can think outside the box and see solutions. I approach things from a different angle and see things others maybe don't. Instead of having one idea, I have twenty-five simultaneously, and once I narrow them down, I have options and solutions.

Because of my ADHD, I have a ton of empathy, which only serves to make my role easier for me. I can get on someone's level and sit in that place with them, even though I've never experienced what they're going through.

We have other members of our team who are exactly the same - thinking outside the box is the norm because we always need to have a Plan A, B and C in life, simply because it is a bit harder sometimes.”

Myth 3: You'll never stay on topic or get through a meeting without at least three subtopics and a sidebar of something entirely unrelated.

“Okay, this one's true 😂”

Workplace support for neurodivergent individuals 

“I've had so many different jobs that are almost completely unrelated because I couldn't find the one that suited me. I've worked in a children's home, been a housing benefit calculator, chased sheltered housing and other community support bills, had a multitude of customer support jobs, and went to university to be a counsellor.

I think jumping from one thing to another is so common for neurodivergent brains (particularly those with ADHD). The boredom that seeps in when the fresh, shiny new job feeling fades, or the first time we make a mistake and rejection-sensitive dysphoria sets in on a massive scale (the fancy name for that voice in your head who tells you everyone hates you and you're useless).

However, when I found myself in the CX L&D team, I realised that I was 'home'. I had found a job that was perfect for me. It changes so often, and I work on so many different things that boredom never comes. My team is the most supportive group of humans I've ever met, and our manager is so wonderfully open to all of our quirks and weirdness and encourages us to be ourselves in every meaning of the word.

I've been with tails.com for almost 5 years now, and I've had moments where I've felt like maybe it wasn't for me after all, but I couldn't be happier or more fulfilled where I am currently. I think about work on the weekend (because I love it!), I always have a new idea popping up that I can note down and work on when I'm back on Monday. It's a truly wonderful position to be in, and I can only thank tails.com for the opportunity to experience something that many people don't get to.”

Neurodivergence should never hinder pursuing a successful career. With the right supportive and inclusive workplace environment, companies can empower neurodivergent individuals to thrive and excel in their roles. At Flexa, one of our team members, Shannen, has also been diagnosed with ADHD. It previously almost ruined her career, but having the supportive environment here at Flexa, she has been able to push our social media to the next level with her creative talents, unique perspectives and out-of-the-box thinking.