It seems that every week, we are seeing another large firm commit to hiring adults with autistic spectrum disorders. This week we have seen the announcement from UK Nicolas Aubert who says that it will implement a programme to hire adults with autism in the UK. This particular programme was first piloted in the USA and has led to some permanent employment contracts for adults with ASD.
Willis Towers Watson, head of The UK Division of Nicolas Aubert, noted that adults with ASD have skills and characteristics which makes them suitable to work with data analytics. His company has come to understand that the data analytics work that they do is in line with the skills and characteristics of many people with ASD. He is quoted as having said: “We wanted to access this largely untapped talent pool of individuals with unique strengths and capabilities and find opportunities to leverage these capabilities to our mutual advantage.”
Wisely, as part of the scheme, the employees will also receive autism education and training to help them to understand more about autism and to challenge prejudices against adults with ASD. Willis goes on to say that the aim is to promote an inclusive and diverse working environment. Aubert has joined the ranks of PayPal in recognising that ‘neurodiversity’ strengthens a company. In addition to this, the employees are really embracing this ethos because they get to feel good about what they are doing and where they work.
We offer autism trainings for human resources departments who wish to follow the lead of PayPal and Aubert to help companies see the positive impact that it could have for them to consciously choose to include people with autism in the workplace. There are a number of things that HR Departments can do to prepare organisations to make the working environment conducive to this inclusion.
First of all, as with any employment appointment… it is crucial to get the right person doing the right job!
People with ASD can do all types of jobs ranging from sales to programming to designing to statistics. Employees would do well to focus on the positive qualities that people with autism have and match them with the demands of a job… so for instance, people on the spectrum often demonstrate high levels of concentration, accuracy and close attention to detail along with being extremely reliable, conscientious and loyal. Some statistics show that people with autism are much less likely to take sick time, partly because of their inability to lie!
Put the right support in place and offer training to the other employees
Having said this, many adults with ASD feel socially isolated with a large number saying that they have experienced bullying that has led to depression or anxiety. This highlights the need for support and encouragement in the workplace in order for employees with ASD to feel secure and have a sense of belonging.
Change the job description if it states ‘good interpersonal skills’ if this is not actually a requirement.
This would put lots of people with ASD right off and they probably won’t even apply for a job with this requirement because most are completely aware of their struggles with interpersonal skills.
Change the interview process to include a written form of dialogue, you will get a much better feel for someone’s abilities than an interview that could go horribly wrong.
Interviews rely heavily on social interaction, good communication skills and the ability to ‘sell yourself’. Individuals with ASD may struggle with this even if they
have all the right skills for the job. If you do need to interview, stick to closed questions and avoid the abstract or hypothetical ones. Encourage the person being interviewed to bring a supporter to help with comprehension and context.
How To Make Your Organisation Autism Ready
There are so many things that we could include on a training day that would help a HR Department get a company ready to employ people with autism. We can help with writing of job descriptions, the interview process and how to prepare colleagues and the general working environment.
Because each organisation is totally different, we offer bespoke sessions with the HR Department or with the whole workforce. These can be held at a training centre near to your place of work or in your workplace itself.Contact us to find out more!