The speed at which the modern workplace is changing is even quicker than Moore’s Law (the idea that the speed of technology doubles every two years). The global pandemic thrust everything online, from shopping to remote working, and that put just about every industry into hyperdrive in terms of research and development about how to adapt to this brave new world. One consistent trend is new approaches to hiring high-quality talent, and big corporations like Microsoft and JP Morgan Chase have realized the massive untapped potential in autistic workers.
The Benefits Of Autism In The Workplace
For years, autism has been misunderstood and negatively stereotyped by mainstream society. It’s still common to hear people say “I’m being a little bit autistic” when what they mean is they’re focusing hard on something when the truth of the condition is that’s a permanent state, not something that can be switched on or off. While it’s true that each autistic person presents with a unique set of traits (hence why it’s called the autism spectrum), some common strengths of autistic workers include:
- Out-of-the-box thinking – one of the hallmark traits of autism is that people on the spectrum perceive and understand the world in very different ways than their neurotypical peers. In the workplace, this means that they are often able to see novel solutions to existing problems or find ways to make systems and processes more efficient.
- Strong data analysis – another common strength of autistic workers is their ability to see patterns in data sets. This makes them proficient at anything involving numbers and finances, where there are strict laws and rules to follow and also debugging computer software, where the syntax of computer language plays into their highly logical thinking process.
- High levels of concentration – finally, many autistic workers find it easy to maintain high levels of focus on specific tasks for extended periods of time. For high support needs individuals, this makes them excel in factory work or assembly lines, while for low support needs, computer programming or other fields where they can work independently on a checklist of tasks gets the best out of them.
Getting Ready To Work
Big multinational companies are starting to reap these benefits of hiring autistic workers, and have the internal resources to make the hiring process a success from start to finish. It is possible for smaller Vancouver-based businesses to recruit and hire autistic workers without external help, but to make the placement stick, you’ll need access to an autism hiring program such as Focus. By signing up with an autism hiring program, you’ll get the following benefits:
- Access to high-quality talent – while it’s estimated that 80% of British Columbia’s autistic adults are unemployed or underemployed, not all of them will be ready for your field or will know where to find your neurotypical job postings. An autism hiring program will find and recruit high-quality autistic talent and put them through a job readiness program so that they’re ready for your workplace from day one. This often includes training in your specific field as well as how to interact within the social norms of the modern office.
- Onboarding support – when you hire an autistic worker, you’ll need to be ready to make some accommodations to your current working practices. An autism hiring program will do the legwork of talking with your new autistic worker ahead of time, getting to know their strengths and areas where they’ll need support. This then becomes part of your onboarding process and you’ll be able to hit the ground running safely in the knowledge that you’ve created an inclusive environment for your new worker.
- Staff training – as noted earlier, there still exists a large number of negative stereotypes about autism in mainstream society, and your neurotypical staff will be no exception. Even if they consider themselves to be open and inclusive, they will still benefit from the expert training that an autism hiring program can provide. Whether it’s an overview of what autism is (and what it is isn’t!), or a more in-depth look at how to best support and include their new colleague, whole staff training is essential as part of your autism hiring process.
It’s clear to see that linking up with a proven autism hiring program such as Focus gives you all the benefits that autistic workers bring to the table without having to reinvent the wheel with your own hiring processes. Make this the year that you tap into the myriad benefits of an autistic worker and talk to Focus today.