Usually, the articles I write for Specialisterne are designed to explain autistic traits and behavior so businesses who want to hire neurodivergent talent can provide accessibility, and more autistic people can find meaningful employment.
In this article, instead of discussing common misunderstandings and translating intentions, let’s look at the positives that autistic people bring to the workplace. This way, you can better understand how accessibility benefits not only your autistic employees but everyone in your business–including your customers!
Here are 5 positive attributes autistic employees bring to the workplace:
Many autistic people are unemployed due to significant gaps in understanding of how autistic people think, speak, and relate to the world around them, as well as how they function in a business setting.
Furthermore, pre-employment questionnaires (which I strongly feel should be abolished) and the standard interview process are often not accessible to neurodivergent brains, which can significantly reduce their chances of being hired.
If your business is a forward-thinking company that provides accessibility and neurodivergent-friendly training and support, your autistic candidate will be more likely to remain in their position with you for the long term.
This type of company loyalty can save you time, money, and resources since it reduces frequent staff turnover and onboarding of new employees.
You often hear about how autistic people are honest, and we are. Most of us are very honest. We’re literal, straightforward, and direct, and we say what we mean, and we mean what we say.
However, sometimes the words ‘honest’ and ‘blunt’ are used interchangeably when they don’t always mean the same thing. Too much bluntness can come across as rude, and it can cause unnecessary harm to employee morale.
For example, blurting out to Shelley in accounting that the bright orange blouse her daughter got her for her birthday is an eyesore. Ouch! No need for that.
To have an honest employee is to have one that you can trust to be upfront about their intentions, feelings, and thoughts instead of shying away because you’re their boss or only telling you what you want to hear due to a fear of social or professional repercussions.
An honest and sincere employee may also be the first to inform you of a colleague illegally dipping into company funds or selling corporate secrets to a competitor–and that would certainly be helpful to your bottom line!
Another positive attribute autistic employees bring to the workplace is increased productivity. With a combination of hyperfocus, less time socializing, and increased problem-solving due to pattern recognition and high analytical skills, autistic candidates can be a productivity powerhouse!
However, it’s important to note that while autistic candidates can bring up to 140% more productivity into the office, we also have fluctuating energy and ability that will need to be accommodated.
- Out-of-the-Box Thinking
Autistic people are bottom-up thinkers, which is one of the reasons we ask so many questions when onboarding and learning new skills. Unlike our neurotypical counterparts who start with the full concept before digging into the details, we autistic folks need as many details as possible to build to the full concept.
Because of our bottom-up way of thinking, we often approach similar projects as though they are brand-new, starting with the details and building upwards from scratch. This gives us more time and opportunity to see things our neurotypical co-workers might miss as well as think of creative and inventive ways of approaching a task that can help reduce cost and increase efficiency.
We’re the innovators of the world, we just need opportunity, understanding, and accessibility to bring those strengths to light!
- Reduced “Bystander Effect”
Recently, a study published in Science Alert showed that autistic people have a higher tendency to be immune to the well-known ‘bystander effect’ that shows that people in large groups will avoid taking action in a risky situation as they feel the responsibility will fall to someone else in said group.
It is believed that neurotypical (non-autistic) people primarily base their actions (or inactions) on the behavior of others whereas autistic people are less likely to feel the social pressure to remain silent if they see practices that are inefficient or dysfunctional in the workplace.
Again, your neurotypical employees will probably tell you what you want to hear to avoid “rocking the boat”, so to speak, which may make you feel better in the short term, but it won’t help you or your business grow and change with the times.
Your autistic employees, however, are more apt to simply tell it like it is.
Autistic people are assets in the workplace, but that can be difficult to see if your primary focus is on how we don’t “fit in” with your current culture. We weren’t meant to fit in, mask, go with the flow, or toe the line. We aren’t there to tell you what you want to hear or be just another cog in the wheel. We are meant to be innovative, avant-garde, and just different enough to help guide your business into the future.