Approximately one in 50 Australians are on the autism spectrum. Autism is a lifelong neurodiverse condition which impacts how an individual thinks, feels and interacts with others. Work is for everyone, and everyone has strengths they can bring to the workforce. Read our blog on job tips for autistic people.
The eighth United Nations Sustainable Development Goal has the aim of achieving Decent Work and Economic Growth for all. There are several ways an employer can build a more inclusive, open, and accessible workplace for employees with a neurodiverse condition. Evaluating hiring practices and processes to be more inclusive is a good place to start. By hiring autistic job seekers and making employees feel welcomed and comfortable, employers can achieve a diverse workforce built up of teams who have unique talents and strengths who add value to the workplace.
As an employer, you can support neurodiverse employees and make their onboarding and employment journey smooth and flexible. Learn more below about how you can, as an inclusive employer, make your workplace a suitable and inclusive environment for all employees.
Before your candidate commences employment
When communicating with your candidate before the induction, send them some information on what to expect on their first day. Provide clear written guidelines and steps they can follow. This will allow them to feel confident and prepared for their first day while cultivating a welcoming and supportive workplace.
Check in regularly with your candidate during the induction process to ensure they have a chance to ask you questions. Take on any feedback on how you can improve and/or develop the induction process to make it more suitable for neurodiverse employees.
Give your candidate plenty of resources so they can learn about the company and the expectations of the role. Ensure you are flexible with the working style of your employee. For example, if they prefer a more visual style, give them some brochures to learn more about your services or show them a video where they can learn more.
During the employment journey
In the first week, check in with your employee daily to ensure they are supported and can talk to you openly on how they are going. Address any concerns or questions and inform your employee of any changes. Ask your employees about any challenges they are experiencing in their first few weeks.
Provide a quite workplace and give breaks when necessary to make your employee feel comfortable. Remember, autistic employees can bring many strengths and creativity to the workplace which can provide a fresh new perspective to your organisation. Educate yourself and staff members on the different characteristics of autism and neurodiversity.
Set some time aside each week to talk to your new employee about how they are finding their employment journey and how you can support them to thrive and achieve their goals.
Why hire autistic people?
- Autistic people have many unique strengths which they can bring to the workplace;
- Employees with neurodiverse conditions have high focus, attention to detail and reliability; and
- Employees are often able to engage in deep research tasks, requiring focus and dedication.
Benefits to employers when hiring neurodiverse people:
- Your business can create a diverse and inclusive workplace, increasing staff moral and confidence;
- Set yourself apart from competitors with a workforce who represent the community your business supports and caters for;
- Workplace realisation; there are lots of different ways to be, everyone is unique and has their strengths whether neurodiverse or neurotypical;
- Acknowledgement of unique methods to approach a problem. This will help gain an understanding of how to engage with individual team members;
- Access the wider talent pool; and
- Generous Government wage subsidies may be available to support employers and job seekers.
Hiring a diverse workforce, including people with neurodiverse conditions will facilitate different methods of communication, collaboration and leadership to balance out working styles and create a fluid and dynamic culture.