One of the key elements of a successful employment program for autistic individuals is job coaching. Coaching enhances employment success by ensuring greater job satisfaction, increased productivity, and in the long term, greater employee retention.
It is widely acknowledged that increasing the diversity of workforces leads to positive outcomes. McKinsey’s Diversity Matters report has shown that increased diversity helps win and retain top talent, enhances employee satisfaction, and leads to better decision making, for example. Traditionally, the focus of diversity has been on age, gender and ethnic diversity. Increasingly, we are observing a shift to include the skills and personal characteristics of neurodiverse individuals in this mix, specifically those who are autistic.
Autistic individuals demonstrate skills including, high attention to detail, evidence-based and systemic thinking, enhanced visual perception, honesty and tenacity – skills which often result in ‘out-of-the-box’ ideas.
The key to harnessing the awesome power of the neurodivergent and creating lasting and meaningful organisational change however, is to then build a culture where individuals and teams learn about each other’s differences and strengths, and are provided with opportunities which cater to those unique identities – otherwise known as inclusion.
This requires going beyond job matching, between the requirements of the job and the skills and ability of an autistic individual.
Cultures of inclusion require a proactive and systematic management approach. Organisations which have the most success are those that empower their leaders through training; develop advocacy programs; implement communication strategies; design accommodations; and, change policy as part of their efforts.
The most successful employment programs for autistic individuals also provide:
- on-the-job job coaching
- mentoring for a period of time
- employee training
- ongoing evaluation and problem-solving
- well-being checks
Teaming with an external partner which has expertise in coaching, mentoring and ongoing support of autistic individuals can help.
At its core, coaching is ongoing support to process, internalise and apply the knowledge individuals receive in the workplace. In the case of autistic individuals, a coach builds a safe and supportive space that allows both the individual as well as their team the opportunity to think, discuss, and learn about their motivations that can impact work place behaviour.
Coaching is often combined with activities which encourage employees to engage in ways that foster inclusiveness. It is by trying new approaches and receiving feedback, employees learn more effective ways to manage themselves in new environments.
Examples of companies who’ve implemented such programs for autistic staff, include SAP, which set up two ‘support circles’ for their neurodivergent employees. One for work and one for their personal life. The work ‘circle’ includes a team manager, buddy and external coach.
In working together coaching enhances employment success by ensuring greater job satisfaction, higher employment satisfaction and confidence, increased productivity, and in the longer term, greater employee retention.
At Xceptional, we have observed and measured how coaching helps autistic individuals and organisations to reach their potential.
The data collated from Xceptional’s monthly satisfaction survey, which measures the wellbeing of all placed candidates, indicates individuals who feel supported in their jobs have better relationships with their managers, high job satisfaction (8.6/10 in 2020), feel positive about opportunities for growth and development and feel good about their work environments.
As a result of these success stories, we always recommend coaching to our clients when placing candidates.
If you are looking for your next career, or would like to talk to the Xceptional team about coaching, please email email@example.com or visit the Jobseekers page.