Autism & Advanced ManufacturingEmployer Toolkit - Business Case, Hiring, & Onboarding
For 2021 – 2022, we’ve been working on a project to connect autistic Canadians to trades and career options in advanced manufacturing. We’ve also been connecting with employers who generously provided their time and feedback on the current state of hiring in advanced manufacturing.
The project’s main goal is to assess the opportunities for improving and enlarging the existing talent pool in Halton Region. More specifically, we are focusing on a very underutilized source of job seekers – the autistic community.
After speaking with over 25 advanced manufacturing employers across Halton Region, we heard many confirmations of existing employees, family members and candidates already successfully on the job!
What Can Make An Autistic Person A Good Employee?
Likely You Already Have Autistic Employees On Your Team
As 1 in 66 Canadians have an autism diagnosis, statistically if you have 100 employees, you’re likely to have 1 or more autistic individuals already on your team.
- Dependable, honest, trustworthy, literal humor
- Highly original thinkers
- Retains knowledge with an impressive long term memory of facts
- Attention to details – sometimes a perfectionist in certain areas
- Problem solvers: seek solutions
- Strong skills in areas such as: art, music, math, literary, etc.
- Once trust is earned, very honorable and trustworthy employee
What is Autism?
Autism is a “spectrum”, which means that it affects each individual differently. No one descriptor is accurate for all people with autism. Similarly, effective strategies for working with autistic individuals can vary greatly. If you are working with (or think you are working with) someone on the autism spectrum, you may notice the following:
- Awkward eye contact, postures, or gestures
- Delayed verbal responses
- Difficulty understanding tone, facial expressions, or other body language
- Unusual vocal pitch, intonation, or volume
- Highly developed areas of interest
- Difficulty initiating conversation
- Blunt, pointed remarks (“brutal honesty”)
- Use of calming strategies such as pacing or tapping
Myths / Facts About Hiring People With Autism
Employees with Autism have high absenteeism.
86% of employees with an intellectual disability or ASD rated average or better on attendance than their colleagues.
High performance employers are too competitive to hire people with ASD.
High performance employers are 37% more likely to hire people with an intellectual disability, because they are good talent matches for open positions.
Employees with ASD are at higher risk of injury or workplace accidents.
98% of people with a disability rate average or better in work safety than their non-disabled co-workers.
It costs too much to accommodate an employee with a disability.
The Job Accommodation Network studied 2000 employees and determined that 57% of employers reported no additional costs from hiring a person with an intellectual disability or ASD. 37% report a one-time minimal cost of less than $500.
Employees with ASD will not be able to contribute as much as their co-workers.
73% of employees report that they strongly agree that their new co-workers contribute as much as other to their organization.
Employees with ASD do not last in high performance workplaces.
Compared with the average turnover rate of 49% across all industries, employees with an intellectual disability, or ASD is considerably lower at just 7%.
RATES OF EMPLOYEE TURNOVER IN ADVANCED MANUFACTURING VARY FROM 21% UP TO 47%. WE CHOSE THE MIDDLE: 37%
Average cost to recruit, hire and train an employee? $4,200
When we looked at the average cost to attract, hire, train and retain an employee, the numbers were quite staggering. Whether a small company of 40 or a global company of 3,000, the impact of employee turnover can be significant.
The perception is that the disability community would be an additional expense vs savings. This simply isn’t true. If an employee needs accomodation, that is usually less than $500 at the start and will usually result in a loyal, hard working employee who will repay your investment faster than you think.
Cost per Year
The turnover rate for the autism community is only 7%
Potential savings of: $50, 400
Most autistic candidates DO NOT disclose that they are autistic nor are they required to do so. Why? Because most autistic job seekers meet with resistance in being hired. And legally, they are not required to share their diagnosis.
This is NO different than if a candidate has an addiction, mental health diagnosis, allergies or learning disability. It doesn’t mean they can’t do the job! It just means they might need some support to succeed.
Typically, you’ll never know you’ve hired an autistic employee. Although in conversations with over 25 advanced manufacturing employers across Halton Region, we heard a lot of “That sounds like Name” after we described common characteristics of an autistic employee.
Of course, if a candidate comes to you through a disability employment support agency, disclosure is a given.
Discuss with the potential employee about whether they are comfortable discussing their diagnosis with their supervisor, and or all coworkers. It is up to the individual who they disclose to, how and when they talk about their autism diagnosis. This is a personal choice made by each individual as to who needs to know about their autism diagnosis.
If you’ve found yourself a valuable employee but need some support for questions or communication, then an autism employment specialist or employment support agency might be a good fit.