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Diversity, stereotypes and talent: why businesses should employ ‘neurodiverse’ employees

Autism is a very broad spectrum with a variety of traits that can, in different ways, make work life challenging

In an age when jobs are scarce and competition for each vacancy is fierce, those on the autistic spectrum may feel that they are at a disadvantage before they even begin.

Perhaps this is why reports show that just 16% of autistic adults are currently in full-time employment in the UK.

Autism is a very broad spectrum with a variety of traits that can, in different ways, make work life challenging. Sensory issues, communication problems and other workplace pressures can take their toll on autistic employees much more than the average worker.

However, studies have shown that those on the autistic spectrum may out-perform others in areas such as creativity and problem solving, providing their working conditions are designed to nurture their strengths.

Auticon is one of the companies that hires autistic workers on a full-time basis and helps them to achieve their potential through a range of supportive working practices.

Things as simple as avoiding last-minute or chaotic team meetings can greatly reduce anxiety in autistic staff. Help with prioritising tasks and offering back office support in the event of any tough situations can also help.

According to a report in the Guardian, these workers improved Auticon’s efficiency by 50% in their first week; therefore, these small allowances clearly make for a mutually beneficial working arrangement.

Other companies are latching on to this and following suit, with some employing a fairly equal split of neurodiverse and neurotypical employees within their workforce.

Other schools of thought believe that the recruitment process should be more streamlined when it comes to assessing those on the autistic spectrum.

On paper, some of them might not look particularly employable; however, experts recommend giving them the opportunity to take part in work trials to see their capabilities in action rather than relying on their CV.

It is important to note that poor interviewing techniques can also be down to the condition and does not mean that the candidate is unenthusiastic.

Hiring neurodiverse staff comes with a number of benefits. It is important to find the right balance between avoiding assumptions associated with this non-specific condition while simultaneously making the allowances that will give someone with autism a chance in your workplace.

If you can find this balance, you might be at the start of a beautiful and rewarding working relationship that benefits everyone.

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