Senior Management Key to Autism Hiring Program Success

Carly Godden  |  04/07/2020

The researchers suggest the ‘Neurodiversity-Smart’ Human Resources framework can be applied in most businesses.

A successful neurodivergent hiring strategy is based on the willingness of senior management to commit to neurodiversity, according to a case study of an Indian hotel chain that successfully hired neurodivergent employees. 

A study from the University of Hyderabad in India found that Lemon Tree Hotels Ltd had successfully integrated neurodivergent employees into the work teams by using a whole-of-company approach. 

Through a series of interviews with the company’s leaders, they found the success of the strategy was rooted in the company leadership’s commitment to neurodivergent recruitment, backed by resources.   Middle and lower management can use their intimate understanding of their company’s operations to align potential roles with wider business needs. 

Based on this case study, the researchers suggest a  ‘Neurodiversity-Smart’ Human Resources framework which they say can be applied across the commercial world.

Partnering with disability experts, educational facilities and non-governmental organisations can help provide access to a suitable talent pool, the researchers say. Businesses can receive training from these organisations on how best to adapt to working with neurodivergent employees. 

Human resources teams should collaborate with experts to consider the potential strengths and weaknesses of prospective candidates to ensure best individual ‘job fit’.

The researchers note that some environmental adjustments may need to be made in the workplace to reduce the risk of overstimulation for autistic employees. They advise measures such as:

  • Frequent movement breaks;
  • Noise-cancelling headphones;
  • Minimalistic distraction-free workstation; and
  • Adaptive accessories, such as computer keyboards.

The model highly rated the value of on-the-job training and ongoing feedback from colleagues, managers and trainers. Managers are also encouraged to celebrate and reward the achievements of their neurodivergent staff.

The study also recognised the commercial benefits of hiring neurodivergent employees. For example, the study stated that SAP’s neurodivergent teams contribute approximately US$40 million to the company’s savings.

Similarly, Hewlett-Packard’s neurodivergent employees working in software testing were 30% more productive than their neurotypical counterparts. 

The companies found that these employees had, “provided several benefits to the organizations in the form of greater success in finding the right talent, higher productivity, better-designed products, lower defect rates and improved bottom lines.”

Above all, the researchers emphasise that the capacity of neurodivergent employees to think innovatively and work differently remains a largely untapped resource.

With careful planning, more businesses can start to unlock that potential. “The neurodiverse population holds tremendous potential and can be a good investment for organizations,” they conclude.