Hiring neurodiverse employees can help improve a company’s productivity and assist in its growth. Today, more and more firms are employing a diverse pool of talents including those with neurological limitations such as Autism, Asperger’s, ADHD, Tourette’s Syndrome, Dyspraxia and Dyslexia, among others. The growing interest by companies and employers for neurodiversity is driven by the need to look for a pool of highly talented individuals that can fill skilled positions.
There is an immense capacity for individuals with neuro disabilities to perform a variety of functions. Studies suggest that these people think, perceive and process their thoughts differently. Each person is exceptionally gifted paying attention to detail and can concentrate intensely on the job at hand. A highly functioning individual with ASD, the broad term used to describe those with neuro disabilities excel or outperform those who are neuro able individuals. Research by the University of Montreal indicates that people with autism are 40% better at problem-solving compared to those who do not fall in the neurodiversity category. And prospective employers know this and are eager to use the talents of neurodiverse individuals.
Although the trend is growing in the US and to some extent the UK to employ neurodiverse individuals, there is a largely untapped labour market that could fill gaps in skilled jobs. According to the UK National Autistic Society, a mere 16% of individuals with autism are in a full-time job compared to 57% of non-disabled people. In the US, individuals on the autism spectrum have above average IQs yet there are many who are unemployed.
Big names such as Microsoft, Google, SAP, Ford and Hewlett Packard Enterprises have modified their hiring processes to accommodate neurodiversity. To attract neurodiversity, they must change the way they hire people including the creation of job descriptions, providing soft skills training and trial jobs.
Although most available data is anecdotal, it suggests that neurodiverse employees increase the productivity of a company by nearly as much as 50%. This was said by Siemens who hired Auticon IT specialists for product testing efficiency.
Employers say that people with ASD are highly skilled in special competencies. And when put in a specific job category where they perform the best, it contributes to company output and productivity. They do their jobs well and are likely to develop loyalty to the company contributing to high retention.
Parents of neurodiverse children often adjust their situation such as designing a home for a child with ADHD. The principle works the same with employers. Some minor adjustments might be required such as modification of work hours, provision of headphones or quiet office spaces.
Remember, people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) function differently, process thoughts and reactions in a different manner and so on. Adjustments to accommodate their diversity is a small sacrifice, if you can call it that way, in exchange for the benefits they bring to the company. And it works both ways, companies get their talents while neurodiverse individuals are employed and feel a sense of belonging to society.
The practice of ‘neurodiversity is a competitive advantage’ for a business or company (Austin and Pisano, 2017). It would be a disservice to overlook this group of people who can contribute to a company’s growth and output. And if a business or organisation can help these talents get recognised, then it is a win-win situation for both sides.
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