What is Autism
Autism affects how people view the world and interact with others, it is a lifelong developmental disability. It is not an illness or disease, it cannot be ‘cured’, if someone has autism then they have that condition for life. It is a spectrum condition that affects people in different ways.
Employing autistic employees shows that a company is committed to equality and diversity and shows positive attitudes to disabled people.
How can employers help their autistic employees?
Many employers do not understand just how valuable autistic employees can be to their business. Autistic employees often are disadvantaged in the workplace because employers do not understand their condition and do not provide the support they need.
Autistic employees can be highly skilled, with good concentration levels, good attention to detail, good at sticking to structure, times and routines and can have great memories, which can make them a very reliable part of the workforce.
The Recruitment Process
There are several ways in which employers can adapt their recruitment processes to assist and help make applications easier and less stressful for employees with autism, and for other applicants too.
- Job Descriptions
Ensure that Job Descriptions contain the necessary skills for the job, many job descriptions contain skills that are not essential for the role. Many autistic candidates can be put off from applying for jobs they are capable of doing, due to wording of job descriptions.
- Application Forms
Application forms should include a section where employees are able to provide details of any assistance they will require during an interview.
- Job Adverts
Job adverts should be kept as simple and concise as possible, many job adverts are not always clear and to the point, which again can put candidates off applying. Ensure that a job advert contains information on what skills are actually needed for the role and leave out ones that are not relevant.
Some autistic candidates may be put off during an interview, as they are not always able to talk about themselves and promote themselves. They can struggle to maintain eye contact, and read the interviewers body language.
Employers adjusting the interview process can be vital for candidates as it can make them more at ease during the process.
Adjustments can include:
- Asking specific questions about their experiences rather than general questions.
- Avoid hypothetical questions
- Inform them when they have provided enough information and move on to the next question
- Provide breaks if the interview is to be for a long time
Managing an Autistic Employee
If support is given in the workplace to avoid and overcome challenges, this can assist with effective working relationships.
To help do this an employer can look at providing support to the employee and their colleagues, to ensure everyone understands the needs of the employee, as a lot of the time it is the lack of understanding and support that causes more issues.
Employers can assist autistic employees by:
- Clarifying the needs and requirements of the job
- Provide training and monitoring for the employee and also their manager and colleagues
- Give clear and concise instructions for a task required
- Provide constructive but sensitive feedback
Workplace adjustments that can be made
By making some easy changes the employee can be made to feel more comfortable in the workplace; these changes include:
- The employee reporting to just one manager
- Clearly defined job responsibilities
- Daily reminders of tasks needed to be done.
- Frequent feedback and guidance
- Provide reassurance in stressful situations
Assistance Available for employees and employers
The National Autistic Society supports candidates to prepare for employment; and they provide a programme to support employers to create accessible job opportunities and to support candidates with those opportunities. This can be through paid internships, apprenticeships and paid roles.
If you would like further guidance or support on this matter or require advice on other people management matters please contact Clover HR on 0121 516 0299 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org