A recent Gallup survey found that only 15% of employees worldwide are fully engaged in their jobs. (https://blog.accessperks.com/2018-employee-engagement-loyalty-statistics) This abysmal statistic is nothing new. The only thing more consistent than employers lamenting their teams’ lack of commitment seems to be their inability to move this critical needle.
Higher turnover rates are the most obvious symptom and can cost your business millions when you consider not only the hard expenditures of job posts, recruiter fees and outside training but also factors like knowledge drain and time spent interviewing for replacements. (https://www.inc.com/suzanne-lucas/why-employee-turnover-is-so-costly.html) Add increased customer churn and absenteeism and it’s no wonder Fast Company pegs the overall cost of low employee engagement in the US at a staggering $370 billion per year. (https://www.fastcompany.com/3009012/the-costs-of-ignoring-employee-engagement)
To address this persistent challenge, employers need to focus on four key principles. (https://www.tlnt.com/meet-these-4-employee-needs-and-engagement-will-improve/)
- Employees must feel valued and accepted.
- Employees must be in roles that best leverage their gifts and talents.
- Employers must foster an environment of meaning and purpose.
- Employers must ensure their employees feel they are progressing in their careers.
A relatively new tool in employer’s arsenal to address this problem is Neurodiversity hiring programs – including those focused on high-functioning individuals on the autism spectrum. These programs involve developing the capacity to effectively leverage the more than 3.5M potential employees with autism in the US today.
Why is Neurodiversity hiring such a good fit for improving employee engagement? Several reasons:
First, neurodiversity programs begin with the concept that companies run better when they don’t just say, but rather show what their values are. Employees, especially millennial employees, value employers that focus on maximizing the strengths of the individual. Second, they focus on making sure they put their people in roles that best utilize their skills. This cultural shift is facilitated by gaining access to an additional talent pool. Third, they engage the entire organization in a values-based approach to support the effort. Even small pilot programs work best when supported broadly. Finally, these programs leverage the role of mentors so that new employees can quickly get up to speed and existing employees can develop their skills and be of service to others.
Amazon, led by the richest man in the world, Jeff Bezos, has joined the list of companies mining this talent pool.
Is Neurodiversity worth digging into at your firm?
Jeff Miller is the CEO of Potentia (potentiaworkforce.org), a social enterprise dedicated to matching top employers with talented applicants on the autism spectrum.