Adult ADHD at work
Work is where many people spend most of their time away from home. Often, a persons work life is vital for not only their incomes, careers and progress but also many of their social activities. Work can be complex and demanding for many people, however, workers with ADHD can face a number of additional challenges, and ADHD at work can be difficult to live with.
Research shows that transport accidents in men with ADHD reduce by 58% during periods of ADHD treatment.
Attention deficit symptoms
At work, the attention deficit symptoms of ADHD mean that people can find it difficult to perform their required tasks and duties. They may struggle to get their work done efficiently or have problems getting on with their managers and colleagues. Attendance is sometimes poor and lateness can be an ADHD trait. Learning new material can be a challenge and appraisals or evaluations can be poor.
It is often hard to keep on top of office organization. People may avoid or delay getting started on a task or feel overwhelmed easily.
Filing and administration can seem tedious or boring. It may be that a task is started but then distractions get in the way and a person rapidly moves on to something more interesting.
There may be many unfinished tasks on the go at the same time without any sense of priorites, deadlines or time required.
A worker may struggle to remember meeting times, commitments or instructions, especially if given more than one at a time and if they are not written down. A person may have a reputation for being unreliable, not doing tasks they were given or making careless mistakes.
About 75% of adults with ADHD will have at least one other mental health disorder, often anxiety, mood disorders, personality disorder, substance misuse, an autism spectrum disorder, dyslexia and dyspraxia.
This may be particularly true if a task is boring, repetitive or doesn’t hold a persons interest as it is then very difficult to keep up levels of motivation.
It can be difficult to concentrate on what people say and this can appear rude or lazy. In combination with other difficulties, this can lead to poor performance measures being put in place.
There may be the habit of perpetually being late for work by not being able to get out of the house on time. This may be because a person gets distracted and does't stick to tasks and get the essentials done in the morning.
People with ADHD can be particularly bad at estimating how long it takes to get a task completed. This often leads to underestimations of time required and therefore a knock on effect on other tasks, lateness and feelings of being overwhelmed.
Often, a person with ADHD will daydream, be unaware of the passage of time and unintentionally end up being late. They sometimes leave the house on time but then have to go back for items they have forgotten.
Many people with ADHD are night owls and struggle to get to bed at a sensible hour and then feel tired in the morning and struggle to get out of bed in time for work or focus on tasks in work.
The difficulties caused by ADHD can lead to a lack of confidence in a work environment. Some people feel bad about themselves, often frustrated with themselves and they then get discouraged and, potentially, leave their jobs.
At work, the hyperactivity symptoms of ADHD can make a person appear to be erratic, unpredictable, impulsive and even unreliable. This can profoundly affect their progress in work and with their colleagues.
For people with ADHD, working in a team and maintaining good relationships with managers and colleagues can sometimes be a challenge, particularly if people see erratic or unpredictable behaviour.
Keeping a job at all can be difficult as a person may be prone to walking out, resigning impulsively or being fired for unreliability or inability to focus.
Some people with ADHD may be very focused, driven, single-minded and successful, however, this may come at a significant personal cost as they may need to put more effort and longer hours into their work than others.
Research shows that obesity can be increased (by 70% in adults & 40% in children) in ADHD.
When in a conversation or meeting, some people may find it hard to wait their turn and could be prone to interrupting others. They may dominate, interrupt and talk too much or take a long time to get a point across, perhaps going off at tangents and being unfocused.
Some may be fidgety, tap a leg or desk, play with office tools like pens, pick fingers or nails or fiddle with hair. It may be hard to remain still in a chair and this can annoy colleagues. It can be hard to sit through a meeting and making excuses to get up is common.
It may be hard to relax and ADHD patients often describe feeling always on the go and driven. They may struggle to unwind and may be a workaholic. Other people with ADHD however, have low levels of motivation.
Driving to work, customer meetings and suppliers premises may be a problem if a person finds it hard to focus. There are higher accident and offence rates in work related driving for people with ADHD and there can be real risk to jobs if this happens.
Mood instability symptoms
At work, consistency, productivity, motivation, enthusiasm and good relations with colleagues are all vital. When a person’s mood changes rapidly, repeatedly and sometimes negatively, it can be damaging to career advance, pay rises and even job security.
Anger and irritability may mean that getting into arguments or being verbally or physically aggressive can be common in ADHD.
In adults with ADHD, 80% go to bed late/get up late. 60% get daytime sleepiness.
Mood swings tend to suggest unpredictability and this can lead to a person being bypassed for interesting or important projects. In turn this can make it difficult to demonstrate value and prove that it is worthwhile for an employer to be supportive.
There can be problems working in teams and with close colleagues and managers. It can be hard to co-operate with others and this can lead to difficulty getting along with people and can lead to failing in a job or losing it altogether.
Driving may be a problem - mood instability may mean that you are prone to getting annoyed by other drivers and road rage can be a problem. There is a higher accident rate in drivers with ADHD.
The Impact of ADHD
ADHD can severely affect an individual’s education, working life, home life, relationships and social life.
Who can be affected by ADHD?
ADHD occurs in both males and females and across all ages and all levels of social status, intelligence and capability.