The Advantage of Neurodiversity in the Workplace
With over seven million unfilled job openings in the United States, employers can’t solve the talent crisis by looking in the same places and using the same strategies.
One interesting place for broadening your talent search is found within the less familiar universe of neurodiverse candidates.
In a recent webinar sponsored by MATRIX entitled “Alternative Hiring Pools – Finding Talent in New Places,” Anthony Pacilio, Vice President and Global Head of Autism at Work, JPMorgan Chase, explained why:
“We are looking for that alternative pipeline of talent with individuals who may be on the spectrum and may have a cognitive difference from you and me.”
“Interestingly, individuals on the autism spectrum are more likely to have strengths around pattern recognition, logical reasoning ability, enhanced focus, and so on. It’s not to say that everyone on the spectrum has those abilities, but those who do are exactly what you would look for in quite a few roles.”
Pacilio said his company was very surprised with some “monumental productivity increases” witnessed in a trial it conducted with some autism spectrum workers.
“We did a contingent worker QA trial for about six months and found that these workers were able to pick out anomalies quicker with more accuracy and less errors. In fact, they were 48% more productive than some testers who had been at JPMorgan Chase for 10 or 15 years.”
Pacilio said that those on the autism spectrum also displayed other desirable work characteristics.
“Loyalty and dedication, to name a few. You can tell somebody who's on the spectrum ‘your shift starts at 8 and ends at 5’. Well, every single day that person will be there at 7:45 ready to go. Now they might leave exactly at 5:00 and one second, but we were totally okay with that,” he said.
Barry Reimer, Director of Enterprise Recruiting Solutions at MATRIX, said the “rinse and repeat” skillsets possessed by many on the autism spectrum lend themselves to a variety of other roles and responsibilities.
“They can hyper-focus on repeatable tasks even when those tasks are very complex,” he said. “There are many jobs within the technology industry that lend themselves well to those traits. Everything from lab technician or coordinator, to training coordinator, project coordinator, even project analysts.”
“On the tech side of IT, you have network technicians and systems administrators, for example. Those roles require individuals to coordinate, track and troubleshoot with meticulous attention to ensure nothing will be missed.”
Pacilio noted that as human beings, we're often taught to always look for the gregarious outgoing person who shakes your hand and looks you in the eye. However, you might not get that with this population. “That's why 80 to 85% of the autistic population is either underemployed or unemployed, because they may not know exactly how to get through the interview process smoothly. They may not know how to ask a question or to answer a question in a typical way.”
He added that it’s more about taking a deeper look at the individual. And when you look at attributes of somebody, don’t just look for teammates who are just like yourself.
“People always think that folks on the spectrum have a social challenge,” he said. “Yet, that is not true all the time. We have hundreds of thousands of people out there that have these wonderful skillsets. Consider this: Most likely 1% of your population and your workforce tends to be on the spectrum. At JPMorgan Chase, that's 270,000 people, so we should at least have 2,700 folks at our firm that are on the spectrum.”
“We've said from the beginning that this is not charity. It's all about the talent. And we are excited and lucky and grateful that we found this talent.”
Watch the recording of the full webinar here.