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ADHD me and the job market

Diversity is today's hot topic, and during said discussion we often look towards visible things that we need to keep in mind so that everyone feels welcome and included. But we cannot forget invisible characteristics, behavioral patterns that are considered "unorthodox" or "strange" simply because we live in a society that has established a certain behavioral pattern that everyone must follow.

These "different" behavioral patterns for example occur among individuals with ADHD. This dreaded label that says "this person is difficult to get along with, moody, and possibly unfit for work" because these individuals' brains trigger behavioral patterns that normal people find strange to work with.

But with the current call to promote diversity in the workplace and employers allowing for visible diversity in the workplace, isn't it ideal to start promoting workplaces that uphold different behavioral patterns?

Please note that the list below is not exhaustive of the possible symptoms of ADHD. ADHD has a variety of manifestations and symptoms, and the manifestation varies from person to person. But this gives an idea of the rich resources that employers miss out on, if people with ADHD are not able to fully enjoy themselves in the labor market.


We with ADHD are capable of making decisions on the fly, and following through on our decisions without hesitation. This is called impulsivity and is classified as a problem because normal people often have a hard time with this, and therefore put brakes on our working methods so that these darlings have an easier time following us. Brakes that act on us like constant mental beatings that drain us of all strength to do the task at hand.

The brains of people with ADHD process enormous amounts of information at a speed that normal people don't realize. We with ADHD are brought up to believe that because our brains work so fast and come to a conclusion so quickly, it is a "bad decision". But the fact that we think fast is not a symptom of "bad decisions", but possibly shortens the entire processing time of tasks.

Our "impulsiveness" is a manifestation of the energy we will pour into the task at hand, and if our impulse is unleashed, we can move whole mountains without blowing our nose.

If only employers realized the power that these individuals had, and set up working conditions around these individuals that allowed this unbridled energy, while also making sure that the necessary aftercare was in place.

Time management // Meetings and communication flow

The clock is one of the worst enemies of a person with ADHD. We can start the workday, planning on spending 30 minutes on a fun project, and once we look up the workplace is deserted, we missed lunch with our friends, and two important meetings.

Let's start with what employers feel is most important about this: missing meetings and therefore disrupting work- and communication flow of co-workers. A lot of employers feel that the amount of meetings speaks to the quality of the assignment, the more meetings the better the quality of the end product/results. There are even some "normal" people who feel that the more meetings they have scheduled in their agenda, the more important they are. This is something that people with ADHD have a hard time understanding, as meetings disrupt both our work flow and our enjoyment of work. For a person with ADHD, who is constantly scolded for forgetting meetings or "this person always needs to be reminded to attend meetings", then the work environment has become negative and demoralizing. Not only are the meetings breaking down the way we work best which creates tension within us, but we perceive it as if we are not doing our jobs well enough and that we are making it difficult for our colleagues with our "poor attendance".

It is important for employers to realize that different communication flows are the key to good communication. People with ADHD are at the forefront when it comes to pointing out to employers that meetings that should have been e-mails, or that conversation via Slack or another medium, are often more efficient than attending meetings all the time.

But then there's the point of lack of time management: The fact that people with ADHD tend to work late because they forget to stop, or miss lunch, is for some inexplicable reason not a problem for employers. But this is a problem for people with ADHD as too much work leads us to burn out faster at work. Employee burnout is a problem for employers, and it is therefore important that employers know how to set up conditions in the workplace that promote healthier time management for ADHD individuals.

The joy of speaking

People with ADHD have brains that work at 100,000,000,000,000… rounds per millisecond, which means that when we speak we can speak a lot, quickly, and go from one thing to another and often without anyone seeing a connection there between.

We with ADHD are supposed to smile and realize how damaged our brains are when normal people say to us "you talk so fast", but when we say to normal people "you speak so slowly" we are rude and should be ashamed of ourselves.

Anyone with ADHD knows the rush of happiness that occurs in our brains when we meet our peers and we can talk quickly and move from one subject to another without worrying that the person opposite us won't be able to follow.

Why it is so difficult to teach normal people to recognize the high-speed communication of ADHD individuals, and learn to work with said communication speed rather than putting the individual down for it is very strange at best. This high-speed communication habit is due to the ability of ADHD people to process information quickly, an ability that employers should fight to fully utilize as processing and solving tasks and problems would be resolved quicker if this ability is carefully utilized and all that is needed is a minimal knowledge of the use of communication flow among of staff.

Sit still!

ADHD can manifest as the individual having high physical energy, and for those individuals, sitting still is difficult. For the person to control this energy not only creates a difficult mood for the affected person, but also creates an enormous mental strain as the brain is busy beating down the body's demands to be active.

From childhood, people with ADHD who have a lot of physical energy at their disposal have been told that they must sit still in order to "fit in". We fight the shame that we feel as we battle the difficulty of sitting still, and often a lot of built-up discomfort due to this energy not being used or because of the mental stress that comes with constantly beating this energy down.

This in itself is not a problem, as it is easy for employers to set up each individual's working stations so that each individual's physical needs are met. All it takes is an employer who dares to overlook this social requirement that "sitting properly" is the same as a sign of a good employee.

Research has even repeatedly shown that sitting still for long periods is not healthy, but the average person still insists on this for some reason.

Resistance to stress

People with ADHD have both difficulty and ease when dealing with stress.

Yes, we are the individuals who will power the employer through crisis as we work very well under pressure. Our brain processes situations quickly, we can easily make decisions (even the hard ones), put our decision into action, and we can carry out difficult tasks without much effort because we are literally designed to work in these situations.

But we cannot work in these conditions for long.

We burn out quickly in these situations, and it is therefore important that employers realize that the staff who are in their element when everything goes to hell are also the staff who need good follow-up care when the situation is over.

At the same time, we ADHD people have a hard time with stressful situations that do not allow us to react to the situation. We will react badly if we are placed in a negative and destructive work environment where we are not allowed to process the situation and change it for the better. Yes, we love to work with some stress, but only to the extent that the conditions allow for continuous processing of the stress so that our brain and body are constantly releasing accumulated negative energy.

It is said that people with ADHD are so short-tempered, or are moody, when it is often a person who is in a stressful situation with no way to get out of the situation or change it for the better. It is easy for employers to ensure that stressful situations do not accumulate for people with ADHD, by allowing independent working methods, immediate processing, and ensuring that a disruptive abuse culture is not allowed in the workplace.


But what is this post-treatment that is constantly being talked about? Yes, we with ADHD have tremendous mental and physical energy and if we can unleash it, we can do wonders in no time! But we burn out quickly if we are constantly unleashing this unbridled energy, because it is indeed unbridled but not endless. It is important for employers to realize that safeguards must be installed in the work environment that allow people with ADHD to recharge their batteries between task cycles or working hours.

What kind of aftercare is suitable for each individual varies, and it is therefore important for employers to take the necessary time to get to know the individuals within their workforce to see who tends to burn themselves out of work enjoyment, and what precautions can be put in place to make sure that doesn't happen.

If the employer keeps his cards right in regard to people with ADHD, these are employees who will consider giving 120% to be a normal minimum contribution to work, will last a long time and thrive well in their working conditions, and thus pay back their employer many times over.

Selfcare for people with ADHD

It is important for individuals with ADHD to understand how their brain works. Yes, you can go on TikTok and listen to endless videos of what people in the world are saying, but the best thing to do is to go to a specialist, as there are people who are trained to teach self-care (and aftercare) for people with ADHD, experts who will not just teach random methods but will work with each person to find the methods that work best for each individual.

People with ADHD tend to forget that, yes, their brains are both demand to be constantly working on difficult and challenging tasks, and their bodies are often no better. But despite that, we with ADHD have the same energy reserve as normal people, we're just depleting our reserves faster.

Therefore, it is important that we learn about ourselves, self- and aftercare, so that our energy reserves remain as fully charged as possible for as long as possible.

In conclusion

Promoting diversity in the workplace is important to all of us. We all deserve the opportunity to be part of the labor market, we all deserve to flourish in our work and be able to use our skills to the fullest, we all deserve to be visible just the way we are.

This applies to everyone, regardless of appearance, mobility, race, sexuality, behavioral patterns, and other factors.

We all deserve equality in the labor market.

But let's not forget that equality is not that all parties get the same share, but that all parties get the same opportunities, and for that we need different instruments and tools.

It is therefore important that employers put in the effort to assess each person individually and find the methods that support each person individually.

We, the employees, are worth it.

Article first published in Vísir 03.03.2024 [link].