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Tips for Supporting & Managing a Dyslexic Employee

Two female colleagues sitting at desk discussing work on computer screen.

An average of 10% of the Irish population has dyslexia so it's likely your business currently employs or will employ, someone with this learning difficulty.

People with dyslexia often have average or above-average intelligence with excellent creative thinking skills. This allows them to see a variety of solutions to a problem.

However, many companies are still unaware of the impact that this disability can have on an employee's job or how a few simple strategies can help to unlock their potential.

As an employee with dyslexia, here are some of my tips on how to effectively manage employees with dyslexia and get the most out of your employees.

What is dyslexia?

Dyslexia is a genetic condition and caused by differences in the way the brain works. It has nothing to do with physical problems, a lack of intelligence or emotional issues. A person with dyslexia may have difficulty with reading, writing, spelling or numbers.

How to recognise the signs

Dyslexia is often referred to as the 'hidden disability' as there are no visible physical signs. It is completely unlinked to intelligence and many dyslexics are innovative and strong leaders.

Some common traits of an employee with dyslexia are:

  • A tendency to confuse dates and times and to miss meetings

  • Difficulty with meeting deadlines

  • Difficulties with reading

  • A problem with starting and finishing their work

  • Problems with the planning and completing written work

  • Poor spelling & problems with long words

  • A tendency to misunderstand information

  • Losing or forgetting things

Communication techniques

If an employee has dyslexia talk to them about their preferred form of communication. If you just send an email, they might not fully understand the instructions.

Many dyslexic people also struggle with remembering and following verbal instructions. Therefore, if you are giving them information it is advised that you give it written and verbally. Instructions should be given clearly and concisely and if complicated, check that they understand fully.

When you are giving directions go up to them, don't talk across from your desk, as this might be embarrassing for them. If working remotley discuss via phone or video call and follow up with an email for clarity.

Workload and time management

People with dyslexia often struggle with organisational skills. As a manager, it's important to be aware of this. To ensure work is done as efficiently as possible, it can be a good idea to have a brief daily meeting to remind your employee of their tasks and priorities. Regular 1:1s are also important.

Make workplace adjustments

There are many technologies which can help people with dyslexia in everyday life, education and employment. Reading can be frustrating for dyslexic people as letters can appear jumbled or to dance around the page. Try to introduce a package which enables screen reading such as ClaroRead, Kurzweil and TextHelp Read & Write.

Spelling can be another issue so make sure to provide them with editing tools. I use Grammarly, and when writing an article like this I find it helpful to read it back aloud.

Dyslexic employees are likely to be very creative and curious and will often come up with innovative solutions to problems very quickly.

To help employees with dyslexia reach their full potential and use this creativity give him the tools to manage any extra challenges, such as time management support, clear instructions and organisational tools.

Don't make your employees feel they have a disability, instead look at their abilities. Through offering them support you will be able to utilise their creativity and ultimately benefit your organisation.

If you're interested in learning more about hiring and retention or have any talent solution queries please get in touch.