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Autism In the Workforce

startup-593324_1920Those living with Autism Spectrum Disorder have had, for a long time, a stigma about their capabilities and talents held against them. As we continue to learn more about the Autism Spectrum Disorder, we are also advancing the options available to those living with it. One of these options is employment.

Towers Watson, a human-resources consultancy firm, is one of the companies leading the charge in this movement. Last year, the company created a pilot program in White Plains, New York to work with autistic individuals. Towers Watson hired 18 autistic individuals to help in the review of compensation survey data submissions. Director of Eastern division sales effectiveness and rewards, Tim Weiler told the BBC Capital, these employees are, “loyal and diligent and are a lower turnover risk.” The company plans to grow the program by extending it to other locations including a service center it operates in Philadelphia, a benefits operations center in New Jersey, and a technology administration solutions location in London. More and more companies are weighing the benefits that can come from hiring autistic individuals. These potential employees would be well suited for jobs that require concentration on long repetitive tasks, the ability to remember a large quantity of information, the ability to catch patterns, and strong mathematics and coding skills.

Major technologies like Microsoft, Vodafone, SAP, and Hewlett-Packard Enterprise are the most actively recruiting autistic individuals. The interest is spreading to companies in other industries, who are beginning to open their doors. Emma Jones, a member of the employee training team at the National Autistic Society in the UK, told the BBC Capital the idea is growing. She says, “Over the last 18 to 24 months, a lot of organisations have been contacting us for assistance because they know autistic individuals have incredible strengths they’d like to tap into.” Companies like these are breaking ground and recognizing the talent within autistic individuals.

More and more companies are hiring autistic individuals, but employers are hiring these talented individuals in small numbers. Autistic individuals may struggle with interpersonal and communication skills, but they are high functioning and intelligent in other areas. Companies will need adapt and provide the appropriate training to new hires and current employees. Providing an autistic individual with employment can be mutually beneficial. The employee will grow their confidence and sense of value as they assimilate to life in a standard job, while the company will benefit from productive and focused employees. It’s an all around win-win.