By opening up their hiring programs to neurodivergent individuals, businesses are increasing their chances of securing the best skill-sets available. Given the intended aim of talent acquisition is to hire the elite, introducing a neurodiversity strategy can be vital to success. And as we’ll see below, any firm adopting a neurodiverse talent acquisition model will be following in the footsteps of some hugely successful organisations.
Why adopt a neurodiverse talent acquisition strategy?
Talent acquisition is all about finding the best employees to help you realise your business goals. It should have a long-term vision, including development and retention. Given that many neurodivergent individuals have far greater skill-sets to their neurotypical counterparts, a failure to include diversity within your talent acquisition strategy is self-defeating. You’re simply not opening up your doors to the very best talent available. Read more on the benefits of neurodiversity for employers here.
How to introduce neurodiversity to your talent acquisition strategy
Some managers or business leaders may consider the introduction of neurodiversity to their talent acquisition strategy to be too much of a challenge. However, by increasing your knowledge, making adjustments to your hiring program and learning how to interview neurodiverse candidates, you’ll be able to reap all the benefits.
Developing and retaining neurodiverse employees also means making some adjustments to your day-to-day routine in order to enable people to perform, minus any distractions caused by their personal thought processes.
Remember also that you’re not alone! Many of the world’s largest corporations have been running neurodiverse talent acquisition strategies for years. We’ll take a look at some of these later on, and their approaches make great starting points for any business looking to follow in their footsteps.
Linking neurodiverse talent acquisition to business goals
When it comes to hiring neurodivergent employees, it’s important that you don’t attempt this merely as a box-ticking exercise. Any talent acquisition process should be strategic and matched to business goals. Therefore, job roles should be created that will help to achieve these aims.
Rather than following a traditional recruitment model of simply filling a role with a candidate, create the specialised roles you need, then adapt your processes so both neurotypical and neuroatypical people can compete.
Companies with neurodiversity hiring programs
If you’ve any doubts about introducing a neurodiversity hiring program, take a look at the following case studies. Global giants Microsoft, SAP and JP Morgan are just three examples of companies that have introduced specialised hiring programs with proven success.
Microsoft neurodiversity hiring program
Microsoft introduced their neurodiversity hiring program to “attract talented neurodivergent candidates and provide the training and support needed for career growth and success.”
The global giant has introduced a specific hiring program purely for neurodivergent individuals. A specialised recruiting team reviews any applications, and any potential matches are requested to complete an online assessment or phone screening.
Following the assessment, applicants may be invited to attend one of Microsoft’s hiring events. These demonstrate what to expect from being a Microsoft employee, as well as including preparation for the interview. Attendees will also get the opportunity to meet their interviewing team in advance, plus existing members of the company’s neurodivergent community.
SAP neurodiversity initiative
German software firm SAP’s neurodiversity initiatives date back to 2013, placing them well-ahead of the game when it comes to having a diversity program. Their autism at work initiative details both the hiring and retention process when it comes to having neurodivergent employees within your company. This includes introducing a mentor to all new starters, and SAP boasts an incredible 90% retention rate, proving their scheme to be a great success.
Through their neurodiversity program, the company aimed to shift traditional thinking away from focusing on the areas of work that people struggle with towards those they excel in. This flexible approach allows a working environment where people are supported to develop in areas they are most talented in
Global banking firm JP Morgan was also ahead of the curve when it came to launching a neurodiversity initiative. Their autism at work program was launched in 2015 with the hiring of four autistic employees. This has grown to nearly 180 people on the program across eight different nations. Like SAP, JP Morgan has managed excellent retention rates (99%). They also discovered their autistic employees to be 92% more productive than their neurotypical colleagues.
Many of the roles are highly technical or analytical, highlighting the skill-sets that neurodivergent people may have. JP Morgan seeks to accommodate different thought processes by changing their traditional interview process to a series of assessment techniques. They’ve also introduced behaviour-based cognitive ‘games’ to help match the best candidates with roles available. There’s a mentor system in place, and managers have been trained regarding methods of autistic communication.
Given that a talent acquisition strategy is about finding the best employees to help you realise business goals, the issue of neurodiverse hiring can be seen from a fresh perspective. It’s a simple equation – hire and retain the best skill-sets, and you’ll stand a better chance of turning your professional dreams into reality. If the best talent happens to be a neurodivergent individual, any business leader who fails to adapt their processes is reducing their chance of future success
How do I hire a neurodiverse employee?
Hiring a neurodiverse employee means making adjustments to your existing setup. Advertisements need to be created with neurodivergent people in mind, being clear and with a focus on skill-sets. You may need to tailor an interview to individual needs, consider the environment and avoid trick questions.
The whole process should be adapted to discern the most talented candidates over those well-versed in playing the traditional interview game. The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development has prepared a useful neurodiversity at work report to help employers prepare candidates throughout the hiring process
What are the benefits of neurodiversity for employers?
As we’ve seen, hiring neurodivergent individuals can mean securing the best talent out there for your company. It’ll also make your workplace a more attractive proposition for both neurotypical and neuroatypical people. Younger members of today’s workforce have grown up in a diverse society and want their normality to be reflected in their workplaces.
Furthermore, diversity is great for finding solutions to workplace challenges. If your workers are of a similar age, background and gender, they’ll likely have similar viewpoints. A diverse range of employees will bring a greater range of viewpoints and the ability to find a wider number of creative solutions.