An interview with Brad Taylor, Director of People, CIPD
All too often, employers don’t see the talent and ability many autistic people have to offer – what would you say to them?
I'd ask them to pause and reflect. Being able to identify and enable all people to bring their personal strengths and talent into the workplace is something that I think is a worthy aspiration of employers. People with autism are no different in that they have their own skills and talents, which will vary based upon their own experience of where they are on the spectrum. Taking the time to explore and being open to possibilities is a good starting point for employers.
What kind of small adjustments can open up your workplace to autistic people?
First of all, providing information for line managers, including the opportunity to ask questions and increase their own awareness about what autism is and how it affects those who have it. With increased understanding comes a mind more open to exploring possibilities and resolving issues that previously seemed to get in the way. Second, thinking about the environment itself; what are the noise levels like? Are you able to provide a work area that can avoid too much change? These are just examples which, again, will depend on the individual.
We know the line manager is key to engaging and retaining staff – how can HR best support line managers to effectively manage an autistic employee?
A useful ace to start is looking at the existing line manager development programmes you run and thinking about how it could be adapted to have inclusion as one of the learning themes. Then start to build peer groups where managers can help each other through sharing good practice and ideas. Signalling to line managers that it's okay to ask questions and to come forward when they are experiencing difficulties will prevent problems arising further down the line.
What advice can you offer organisations who want to expand their talent pool?
Get in touch with local groups. There are plenty of support networks out there who are very happy to share ideas and help local employers to take steps forward with this. At the CIPD we regularly run workshops for managers and supervisors around topics such as mental health awareness
We're proud to be supporting The National Autistic Society's World Autism Awareness Week 2017, to find out more about the work they're doing, how you can get involved and practical advice that you can apply in your workplace click here.
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