Gary Howl, The principal Chartered Psychologist at Solihull Dyslexia Centre has specialised in dyslexia at work for over 20 years. His background as a Chartered Occupational Psychologist and his subsequent training places him amongst a select handful of consultants in the country able to carry out this kind of assignment.
Dyslexia at work is a serious issue which impacts heavily on productivity.
CBI surveys have repeatedly found that employers are dissatisfied with the level of skills among young people. In 2008, 40% of those questioned said they were unhappy with the literacy and numeracy skills of school leavers - 17% had been forced to provide remedial help for school leavers. A CBI education and skills survey carried out in 2009 found that 40% of employers were concerned about the basic literacy and numeracy skills of their workforce.
Of course, not all employees with literacy difficulties will be dyslexic. However, awareness is increasing and employers are bound by the Equality Act, 2010 to recognise and make adjustments for dyslexic staff members.
A key sign of dyslexia at work is very inconsistent performance across job competencies. In our experience, most staff members who are referred for assessment are excellent at “doing the job”, but much less good at paperwork and administration. Time management and self-organisation, meeting deadlines, taking a long time to produce written work, making errors in grammar, spelling and punctuation, entering incorrect customer details, being confused by computer systems or new procedures are all issues that tend to flag up dyslexia. Dyslexic staff members may avoid training courses (because they have to read and absorb large amounts of information) and will frequently pass up on promotion (because of the additional paperwork involved).
When employers and workers are unaware that dyslexia is the cause of the problem, this often results in frustration and anxiety for all. Frequently, staff members are referred only after formal disciplinary or competence procedures have been started. Often, well meaning employers will offer courses (such as in report writing) which only make matters worse. This has a terribly negative impact on self esteem and well-being of the employee and only serves to frustrate the employer.
Solihull Dyslexia Centre offer practical solutions. As impartial, independent professionals, we can help in
Clearly identifying the employee’s difficulties
Putting them in the context of the job they are doing
Recommending realistic workplace adjustments
In our experience, organisations taking a more flexible approach and increasing dyslexia awareness in line management enables huge steps to be taken. On an individual level, training in specialist techniques, better stress management and providing assistive technology also pays large dividends. Public funding is also available to meet the costs of workplace adjustments.