As the economy continues to rebuild from the early effects of the global pandemic, many businesses are starting to hire back to their pre-pandemic staffing numbers and in most of those cases, they are looking for ways to expand and continue to grow. However, this isn’t as easy as it sounds. The risk of COVID in the workplace is making some potential employees stay away, while the sheer number of companies looking in the same talent pools means that highly qualified and competent workers have their choice of where to work. In these cases, the traditional talent strategies of increased salary benefits and work perks might not be enough to secure the best talent to get a competitive edge.
The Benefits of Neurodiverse Workers
All eyes should therefore be on several big multinational companies, such as JP Morgan Chase, SAP and Microsoft, who have started to tap into the unique talents and skills of neurodiverse workers. They have set up dedicated autistic talent hiring agencies and are finding great success with their new employees. Some of the many benefits on hiring autistic workers include:
- Out of the box thinking – a common trait among many autistic individuals is the ability to see the world in a very different way to their neurotypical counterparts. This means that they will see existing problems with a fresh set of eyes, and companies will find their new employees suggesting ways to streamline processes and make systems more efficient.
- Attention to detail – autistic workers often have high levels of concentration which is coupled with a great eye for detail. This makes them excellent at finding bugs in software and trawling through datasets looking for patterns and outliers. This attention to detail also helps them to be incredibly productive as they hold themselves to high levels of accountability to complete tasks.
- Improved communication – one of the biggest misconceptions of autistic people that mainstream society holds is that their struggles with social interactions holds them back from taking their place in the workforce. While it’s true that many autistic workers don’t find it easy to read body language or understand abstract linguistic tools, such as idioms and metaphors, they change communication patterns in companies by making everyone be more concrete and concise. This translates to improved communication for everyone as there’s less misunderstanding and people will say what they mean instead of relying on innuendo and nuances to make their points.
Reinventing Talent Strategies
Given the benefits that companies get from hiring neurodiverse workers, it’s surprising that only 20% of British Columbia’s autistic population are in well paid meaningful work across the province. However, the traditional application and interview process is heavily weighted towards neurotypical workers, so companies looking to hire autistic workers need to reinvent their talent strategy:
- Rework the job advert – most job adverts are written in the same fashion that requires a high level of understanding of social cues and norms. Companies looking to hire autistic individuals need to use more concrete language and be incredibly clear on what will be expected in the role and the skills and qualifications that will be needed ahead of time. They will also need to post the job adverts on autistic job boards to make sure it’s seen by the right applicants.
- Accept alternative applications – the application process requires applicants to write in abstract terms, trying to make generalizations from their previous experience to the potential job. This can be hard for autistic workers, so companies should accept applications done over the phone or made in person. This also gives them the ability to get to know the autistic individual ahead of time.
- Consider group or task based interviews – finally, the traditional face to face interview is a minefield for autistic applicants. There’s a lot of subtle body language and social cues to be read, all with unfamiliar faces, as well as research showing that it’s a poor indicator of job performance for all workers. A better strategy is to have them take part in a task based interview where they will perform work under supervision, or be part of a group tasks so that their social interactions can be examined.
These can be big changes for the average company to make, so it’s a great talent strategy to get together with a talent management agency. To find the best autism talent agency Vancouver has to offer, find one that is run by autism experts and who has years of experience successfully placing and supporting autistic workers.