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published: 25 Jan 2024 in Work

ADHD at work

Wiktoria Jackowska
Wiktoria Jackowska

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ADHD takes on different forms when it comes to individuals. Some like change, multiplicity of contacts, and a fast-paced environment, while others prefer repetition and tasks that will catch them by surprise. With the help of Jarosław Jóźwiak, M.D., PhD., we explain the specifics of ADHD and the work of ADHDers.
ADHD at work

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ADHD, or what is it?

The term ADHD is an acronym for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Contrary to popular belief, ADHD is not a new condition, although until recently its diagnosis was done nearly exclusively in children.

“ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder or a different way the brain develops. Next to the autism spectrum disorder, it is the most important disorder in this category. People who have ADHD are characterized by a brain structure that is different from typical,” explains Dr. Jóźwiak.

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, is associated with characteristic symptoms. These include problems with maintaining concentration and impulse control, as well as hyperactivity. The essence of ADHD symptoms is their co-occurrence. Hence, people with ADHD can have both a problem with selecting stimuli and the ability to focus for long periods effectively on a selected thing, called hyperfocus.

“According to official data, ADHD affects 10% of children, but many specialists, including myself, believe that it affects an even larger proportion of the population. So we are talking about at least 1 in 10 people having ADHD," adds Dr. Jóźwiak.

ADHD is a very complex disorder that is characterized by a multitude of extreme, often seemingly mutually exclusive features. At the same time, the different structure and development of the brain of a person with ADHD can make one an outstanding individual.

Most likely, Albert Einstein himself had ADHD!


Working with numbers and data

The basis of work in finance is numbers. It is therefore necessary to be capable of efficiently orienting oneself in the vastness of data. However, if a person with ADHD likes numbers and ties his or her future to analytics, or is after studies related to finance or accounting, it is most likely that the ability to hyperfocus will fall into this particular field. Such individuals will find it fun and satisfying to work with data and charts.

“Among my patients, many are working in the financial industry. They love numbers and in their work, they will find any discrepancy in the data and do everything to explain the resulting error. Of course, adhders can be divided into those who are more into literature and those who are more strict and number-oriented. Some people are fascinated by liberal arts, others by mathematics," says Dr. Jóźwiak.


Responsibility

Dealing with ADHD is like life - it is different for each person. In general, people with ADHD, who are changeable and very comfortable in a dynamic environment, may have difficulty focusing on one activity. They tend to jump from one task to another, and thus find it difficult to see one endeavor through to completion.

On the other hand, many ADHDers compensate for their problem with concentration by developing various habits and pursuing a set goal with great determination. In addition, people with ADHD, having the ability to hyperfocus on activities of interest to them, can be both extremely responsible and efficient in their work. Therefore, it is repeatedly emphasized that it is of great importance for ADHDers to realize themselves in their respective fields of expertise.

“If a person with ADHD is in hyperfocus, he or she is determined to explore every assignment and deliver it to the best of their ability. So if a supervisor assigns them a difficult project or task that most people would not be able to tackle, an ADHDer will work with full commitment and tenacity to complete it," says Dr. Jóźwiak.


Dynamic environment and teamwork

ADHDers are a very diverse group of people. There are many traits of ADHD, and each of them can have 0% or 100% degree of intensity. This is reflected in the competencies that are specific to a particular person.

“Among people with ADHD, some work well together in a group, and others who don't like such cooperation or who don't find it easy. It all depends on an individual because just as people in society differ from each other, each person with ADHD is different and unique in his or her way," emphasizes Dr. Jóźwiak.

Thus, we can meet ADHDers who are very attached to fixed ways of functioning, with a tendency to have different kinds of routines. However, many, perhaps even most, love change and find themselves most at home in a dynamic work environment. Hence, it is crucial to select the right employee for the job.


Implementation of short- and long-term projects

ADHDers are individuals who are valuable and capable of doing great things in the right environment. With the right setup, they can accomplish tasks impossible for other employees and achieve formidable results. So the stakes are high.

“Nowadays, creativity is regarded as one of the major competencies of the future - and it is precisely what distinguishes people with ADHD. Consequently, ADHDers, during the implementation of any professional projects, are capable of initiating new measures and finding unconventional solutions. It is very important to create the right work environment for people with ADHD, as organizations can greatly benefit from it. There is a great deal that can be done for ADHDers, for example, provision of programs that organize work, make it easier to divide tasks or provide constant contact and monitoring of progress," points out Dr. Jóźwiak.

Failure to adequately take care of an employee with ADHD is a waste for the entire organization.

“To make it clear what the company stands to gain, let me remind you that although I don't have direct evidence of it in the form of diagnoses, Albert Einstein and Leonardo Da Vinci most likely had ADHD. Both were able to invent, create, and achieve great things thanks to the right conditions that gave them opportunities for development." concludes Dr. Jóźwiak.


ADHD and feedback at work

ADHDers are dopamine-oriented. This means that nearly every action they take must have a definite direction. Pursuing a set goal, often in an extremely precise and reliable manner, activates the reward system, which is responsible for motivation and behavioral control. Completing a task involves the release of dopamine, hence achieving set goals is very important for people with ADHD. Why is feedback equally important for them?

“For ADHDers, feedback during the completion of complex tasks acts like the ultimate booster. When a person knows that feedback is not far away, he will complete the task with more motivation. At the same time, the given feedback must be appropriate," stresses Dr. Jóźwiak.

How to give feedback to people with ADHD?

“It seems that without proper training for supervisors, which would involve raising awareness of ADHD, it is difficult to give good feedback to ADHDers. However, if any form of feedback is based on an understanding of the disorder, it becomes endless motivation for an employee with ADHD to take more action, long-range plans, broken down into lots of small steps with periodic feedback", adds Dr. Jaroslaw Jóźwiak.

When giving input to ADHDers it is worth realizing that they are very sensitive about other people commenting on them. Hence, knowing how to effectively interact with people with ADHD is extremely important.


Financial organizations and people with ADHD

Rarely is an ADHD person motivated by workplace benefits. The main factor that determines which organization they select as their workplace is determined by their personal fascinations, and therefore their ability to hyperfocus on that particular area.

“There are many people with ADHD working in finance. Whether in the accounting area, cyber security or in the departments of banking institutions. There are those people for whom numbers and data are fascinating - they propel them forward. In that case, there are hardly any contraindications or difficulties with the previously mentioned responsibility and attentiveness, e.g. when analyzing or reporting," notes Dr. Jóźwiak.

The financial industry also includes companies with transparent structures relating to development, promotions and employment. This is a big plus for ADHDers, as they find it easier to function in such an environment - people with ADHD need clear and specific messages. Moreover, a great number of them have a very strong sense of fairness, so it is a big advantage for them to know what their promotion depends on and what their responsibilities are.

“I believe that awareness of ADHD in Poland needs to grow. For this reason, I founded the association Bliżej ADHD (“Closer to ADHD”), which aims to educate large corporations on the issue. The last meeting took place at NatWest, so I also encourage other financial companies to take advantage of the opportunity to invite me for training, also in English. For more information, visit our site: https://blizejadhd.org/ or send a message to: info@blizejadhd.org “ says Dr. Jaroslaw Jóźwiak.

in collaboration with

Jarosław  Jóźwiak
Jarosław Jóźwiak
M.D., PhD, a psychiatrist specializing in ADHD

Dr. Jóźwiak is a psychiatrist specializing in ADHD. He is the recipient of many scientific awards from the Prime Minister of Poland, the Polish Academy of Sciences, and the Minister of Health, among others.

Dr. Jarosław Jóźwiak is also the editor-in-chief of the PsychiatraPlus.pl portal and the PsychiatraPlus YouTube channel dedicated to neurodiversity, among other topics.

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