When we shared tips for hiring neurodiverse workers last month, we noted that companies with neurodiverse hiring programs are experiencing impressive retention rates of 90% to 100% for their neurodiverse employees.
This isn’t random luck. Companies with neurodiverse hiring programs understand that modifying their interviewing techniques to acquire these workers is only the first step in a successful neurodiversity program. Ensuring these employees feel comfortable with their colleagues and are motivated to stay with the company requires tailored onboarding and retaining policies, too.
Neurodiversityhub.org has a wealth of information about this on its website. Here are five of their tips for onboarding and retaining neurodiverse employees:
- For the autistic employee, the onboarding experience can be overwhelming because there’s a lot of information to process and absorb. Be sure to supplement verbal instructions with written instructions the employee can refer to later. Be careful not to patronize the employee or over simplify instructions. Provide a list of resources for the employee, too. Note: one CT manufacturer who has begun hiring autism-spectrum employees found it’s best to send all forms in advance so they can bring them completed on their first day on the job. Forms can be overwhelming if there seems to be a tight timeframe to get them completed.
- Ask the employee what reasonable accommodations they need. Something as small as being seated far away from the copier or closer to the restroom can dramatically reduce their anxiety.
- Always obtain consent from the autistic person before telling others in the company about their autism. While you might think you’re being helpful, this breach of trust could irrevocably damage your relationship. Ask the employee if they want to share this information. If they do, ask how they would like it to be shared.
- Allow the autistic employee to customize their environment. Allow them to bring sensory objects from home to adorn their workspace or carry with them during stressful times. This may significantly improve their focus and productivity.
- Provide a mentor or “buddy” who isn’t the employee’s direct supervisor to help the employee navigate office protocol. According to the CDC, an estimated 5.5 million adults in the United States are on the autism spectrum. Therefore, it’s likely that some of your existing employees have an autistic friend or relative. These employees typically make ideal mentors, and will usually welcome the opportunity.
It’s important to always keep in mind that neurodiverse employees need to feel supported, appreciated, and understood. And really, doesn’t every employee want that?
The Connecticut Manufacturer’s Resource Group works with manufacturers to understand how to hire, engage, and retain neurodiverse employees. Check out our previous blog, Part 1 of this series: Neurodiversity in the Workplace which discusses implementing a hiring program and the immense value neurodiverse people can bring to your organization. Contact Us to learn more.