Should I tell my employer I have ADHD?

For people with ADHD, navigating the workplace can be a daunting task. Adults with untreated ADHD are known to have difficulty at work, and often have lower occupational achievement. This constant struggle means they frequently change jobs and have higher rates of quitting. But with the right treatment plan, employees with ADHD can thrive. The first step in managing your own ADHD in the workplace? Open communication with your employer.

Office problems
The most important thing to understand as an adult with ADHD, it’s that it’s perfectly normal to find certain things more difficult in the workplace – it’s not uncommon, and it doesn’t mean you’re incompetent. Adults with ADHD frequently struggle with elements of corporate life, and it’s completely normal.

You might find it tough to plan according to deadlines, or to remember instructions after they’re given. You could battle with work routines, and might even grapple with losing paperwork. These are all normal symptoms of ADHD, but with a little understanding from your employer and a little extra effort from your side, there’s no reason you shouldn’t function well in any work environment.

In fact, adults with ADHD often show intense creativity, passion, energy and a constant flow of original ideas, which, when managed correctly, can be a real asset to any organisation.

Open communication
As an adult with ADHD, there are simple ways to make your life easier at work – posting reminders, isolating yourself from distraction and establishing a suitable routine – but you can’t implement any of these practical changes without the understanding and consent of your employer.

You need your direct manager, HR director or even managing director to know why you’re working with headphones on in a separate room, or might need three extra notebooks in the course of one month.

When you join a new company – or even if you’ve been at your current job for a while and want to make some changes for the better – organise a time to sit down with your employer to explain that you have ADHD, how you’re managing the condition, and how you’d best like to keep your symptoms under control in the office environment.

Working solutions
Explain the condition to them fully and help them understand it doesn’t mean you won’t be doing your job properly, but just that you might need a little extra leeway or help in certain situations. Work together to find practical solutions that’ll help you work to the best of your ability, without distraction.

Possible solutions might be working from a separate breakaway room when necessary, to avoid a noisy, distracting open plan office, or using additional calendars, reminders or charts to keep track of tasks. If you feel exercising will significantly help in managing your ADHD, consider exercising in the morning and perhaps adjusting your work day by half an hour, with the consent of your manager.

Ask for frequent performance reviews, to make sure you’re adhering to company standards, and ask for help with setting short-term, achievable goals.

Treatment plan
Although it’s advisable to communicate with your employer about your condition, the simplest way to manage the symptoms of ADHD, especially in the workplace, is with a holistic treatment plan. This can include medication (methylphenidate is prescribed for ADHD), along with exercise and sound sleeping habits.

The right medication will reduce the core symptoms of ADHD, but will also help with other emotional impairments, which could be having an effect on your occupational performance. If you’re concerned about your performance in the workplace due to symptoms of ADHD, speak to a healthcare professional about finding treatment that works for you, throughout the full work day.