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Neurodiversity and the Strength of ASD in the Workplace

In: Business

The modern workplace has undergone drastic changes in the last few years. Not only has the global pandemic forced just about every field into online and remote working, but the speed and versatility of internet connected devices and other technology has given even the smallest company the ability to compete. Add into that an increasingly well qualified talent pool and the conditions are set for exponential growth across just about every sector. However, finding high quality candidates is becoming increasingly difficult as so many companies are now in the market for the same sort of workers. This is where your hiring team should be thinking about neurodiversity and ASD employment.

Strengths of Autism in the Workplace

You know a new hiring trend is on the horizon when the big players, such as Microsoft, SAP and JP Morgan Chase have all set up specific autism hiring programs to tap into this vast talent pool before anyone else gets there. While the old saying goes “once you’ve met one autistic person, you’ve met one autistic person” (meaning that each ASD individual will present with different symptoms and traits), you’ll find these to be common strengths of autistic workers in any field:

  • High levels of concentration – one of the most common character traits of autistic employees is their ability to focus on specific tasks for extended periods of time. For high support needs individuals, this means that they excel in factory or assembly line work that require repetitive actions for hours on end. For workers with low support needs, this makes them excellent at jobs with an extended checklist and the ability to work independently, such as computer programming or software development.
  • Blue sky thinking – it’s often said that autistic individuals see the world in different ways to their neurotypical counterparts. This doesn’t mean that they have different eyesight, but more that they perceive social situations differently and their understanding of how the world works isn’t the same. In the workplace, this turns out to be a major strength as they will often be able to provide novel solutions to existing problems, as well as find ways to maximize efficiency and productivity in your systems and processes.
  • Attention to detail – finally, many autistic workers make a name for themselves with their impeccable eye for detail. In some situations, this comes out as exceptional data analysis skill, making them excellent software debuggers and forensic accountants. For others, it presents with artistic skill, helping autistic workers to excel as graphic designers or architectural assistants.

Benefits of Neurodiversity and ASD employment

It’s clear to see, therefore, what strengths an autistic employee could bring to any one of your working teams. However, hiring neurodiverse workers also brings other benefits to your company:

  • Streamlined communication – it’s fair to say that many autistic people find social interactions tricky. They can find it hard to read body language, and they deal much better with concrete linguistic concepts. Your staff will find that changing their language to avoid abstract concepts like sarcasm, idioms and metaphors makes for streamlined communication. You’ll also notice a decrease in gossip and rumors as people transition to more open and honest communication.
  • Increased empathy – as part of the onboarding process, your staff will have to go through training on autism and how to include their new colleague at work. This will subtly increase the empathy among your staff as they will have to think about what their neurotypical world looks and feels like, and how some of the frustration that autistic workers feel would be for them. This increased empathy will cause your workers to treat each other better, as well as your external clients.
  • A more inclusive outlook – finally, the modern marketplace has clients and customers who are as interested in the ethics and moral standpoints of companies that they spend with as they are about the quality of products and services that they receive. You’re likely to see an uptick in business and more positive customer relations as they find that you are intentionally becoming a neurodiverse company and promoting a positive attitude towards all brain types.

With all these strengths that come from neurodiversity in the workplace, it seems obvious that your next hire should be from the ASD talent pool. However, it can be difficult to know how to change your hiring practices, which is where Focus comes in. We’re a high quality autism talent management agency, and when you sign up with us, we do the leg work of finding the best quality ASD talent to take your company forwards.

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