While it’s estimated that over 40,000 adults in British Columbia have autism and either out of employment or underemployed for their skills and talents, not many businesses have realized this represents a vast untapped pool of talent. For some organizations, the structural and supervisory changes that would need to be made can feel insurmountable, while others will simply suffer from the negative stereotypes that often surround individuals with autism in the workplace.

However, the key role of autism in the workforce is to change all kinds of work practices for the better. That’s not to say that you should only hire someone with autism for how they will change your business, but some of the ways that your organization will benefit by adapting to having someone with autism in the workplace include:

  • Improved communication – one of the hallmarks of autism spectrum disorder is finding abstract language challenging to understand. This is because many individuals with autism are concrete thinkers, meaning that they may take linguistic devices like metaphors, sarcasm and idioms literally which can lead to confusion. One of the biggest changes that you and your staff will need to make is to keep communication clear and concrete for everyone. This will benefit communication overall as there will be less misunderstandings and reduced instances of bickering and gossiping.
  • Out of the box solutions – another typical characteristic of someone with autism is that they view the world in very different ways compared to their neurotypical peers. This ability allows them to look at existing practices and come up with innovative solutions to streamline or even redesign the entire task. Given they will often apply this out of the box thinking to their own roles, employees on the spectrum given the freedom to reimagine things will have more buy in and will considerably more like stay in their position.
  • Increased empathy – a final side benefit to employing someone on the autism spectrum is that you’ll notice empathy levels increase across all staff members. This is because each and every employee will have to change the way they interact with the new hire to help them integrate into the workforce. This might be in going out of their way to help them complete their work, changing their communication style or coming up with ways to make the working environment more autism friendly. This increase in empathy will spread to their relationships with each other and with people outside of your organization.

No one will pretend that it’s easy to make the necessary changes to hire an individual with autism, but all of these benefits show the key role of autism in the workforce. However, not every organization is prepared and ready to recruit and retain neurodiverse talent which is where autism recruiting firms like Focus play their part. Focus provides full support to getting more of British Columbia’s adults with autism into work, from finding the talent in the first place to providing ongoing staff training and in-work support to help everyone benefit from inclusive hiring individuals with autism.