Employment trends expert explains how companies can make the workplace a more inclusive place for all employees
In an effort to establish more inclusive hiring practices, many companies have committed to seeking out adult employees with disabilities, including autism. As outlined in a recent Wall Street Journal article, many artificial intelligence companies are particularly seeking adults with autism to join their staff.
“Companies like SAP and Microsoft have recently made a committed effort to start hiring employees who fall on the autism spectrum. This is timely, as more people than ever are being diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD),” says Rob Wilson, President of Employco USA and employment trends expert. “Although varying in degree, individuals with ASD can require several modifications to the workplace. However, 80 percent of people with autism struggle to find employment, likely because employers are not well-versed in this condition and how to manage it in the workplace.”
Here, Wilson offers his top tips for making the workplace more inclusive for employees with autism and other developmental differences:
- Make small changes to the office environment. “Switching out bright fluorescent lights and opting for energy-friendly, warm LED lights can go a long way in helping individuals with ASD or SPD. Similarly, loud or disruptive music played over the speakers can be silenced, or replaced by instrumental music.”
- Have a ‘quiet’ space. “A designated quiet place where employees can retreat during the day can do wonders for mental health, especially those with developmental disorders. Make the room dark and quiet, and have a sign-in sheet that will allow employees to use the room for short breaks. This safe place will be an invaluable refuge for those with ASD and other conditions.”
- Be careful when changing company routine. “If you know that one of your employees has ASD, be aware that changes in their daily life can be very upsetting to them. Something as simple as moving their desk an inch to the right, or asking them to change their lunch break can be overwhelming. To that end, give your employee plenty of warning time before making any big changes. This will help to ensure workflow continues without disruption or undue upset.”
- Troubleshoot solutions with your employee. “Every individual with ASD has differing needs and concerns. Talk to your employee about how you can make their work life more comfortable and productive. Perhaps they would work better if they could wear ear plugs, or if the bright overhead light was turned down.”
- Educate your employees. “It is important that people understand that jokes or rude comments will not be tolerated, and that such behavior will be viewed as discrimination. Instead, encourage inclusivity—while honoring your employee’s privacy, of course, as they may not want their diagnosis made public.”
For more on this topic, please contact Rob Wilson at firstname.lastname@example.org.