Why employing people on the autism spectrum benefits everyone
It’s a well-documented fact that what is good for one is good for all when it comes to staff training. Whether it’s a broad policy on interoffice communication or specific work on a particular product, everyone will get something out of the training to bring back to their professional lives.
This approach to training applies when a company decides to hire someone on the autism spectrum. The benefits to the individual with ASD are clear: financial independence, social and emotional skill-building, and reducing their reliance on the state and other people are some of the many positives for people on the spectrum when they gain meaningful employment. However, the benefits to the entire work should be considered when the hiring decision is made. These include:
- Increased empathy – one of the key traits of autism is difficulty in reading other people’s feelings from their body language. The presence of a person with ASD in the workplace will mean that a lot of hidden nuances will need to be explained and discussed explicitly, and it’s amazing how many neurotypical people often miss these vital clues as well. Employers of people with autism often report a higher level of empathy and understanding as their workers are forced to explain and discuss their feelings and relationships out loud.
- Re-examining office culture – a toxic office atmosphere is problematic for many reasons. For example, it cuts efficiency as people spend more time worrying about office politics than work, and it also stops collaboration as people are wary of working with each other. While many people with autism find it hard to read social situations, especially nuances like sarcasm and humor, having to make sure that everything is clear and concrete makes it harder for people to misunderstand each other or deliberately annoy their co-workers. It also makes for a much more honest workplace in general as people with autism tend to take everything at face value, so lying and misleading people on purpose has to be cut out for them to succeed.
- Re-imagining tasks and roles – the inclusion of an individual on the spectrum into any workforce is going to require a rethink about how their role, and by default, the roles around them, is put together. This is due to how many people with autism require multiple training attempts to master a skill, and often need scaffolding and step by step guides to complete their routine tasks. Many employers of people with ASD find that having to really zoom in on the specifics of the job makes it clear as to what is necessary, what can be ditched, and what could be improved. This then encourages employers to examine other roles throughout their organization to look for efficiencies and improvements.
- Building a support network – around one in every 60 Canadians is born with autism, which means that a few people in any organization will have a personal connection. Just the beginning process of discussing hiring someone on the spectrum can make these employees feel understood and listened to, and it can help to change the way in which employers provide support, both financially and time, to people who are caring for an individual with autism.
Employing people with ASD has benefits that go beyond the walls of the hiring organization. Most adults with autism claim some form of disability benefits from the state, so they take themselves out of the welfare system when they get a job. This allows for either a localized tax break or for that money to be put to another public project elsewhere. The money in the individual’s pocket also helps to build the local economy, as they’ll have disposable income for luxury goods as well as becoming more self-sustaining for the essentials such as rent and groceries. Finally, the state gets another boost by adding another person into the tax base, which in turn helps to reduce the tax burden for everyone.
It’s clear to see that hiring people on the spectrum is a win-win situation for the individual, the hiring company, and for the wider economy and state government. It’s also a way of spreading more love and acceptance throughout the world, which can only be a good thing.