Professional Strengths of Adults with Autism

What are the professional strengths of adults with autism?

The world is rapidly evolving with new digital tools, new data, new technology and new businesses processes. These innovations give organizations new ways to reach and engage customers and partners. But for every innovation with major advantages, there are also downsides. As companies use more and more data, there is an exponential increase in operational complexity and the need for rigorous, repeatable processes to deliver on the promise of these innovations.

Fortunately, the unique professional strengths of adults with autism are aligned with many challenges corporations need to address in maximizing the advantages made possible by the innovations sweeping the economy today.

In this brief article, we will discuss these strengths and how a partnership with AutonomyWorks can solve some of these challenges. The strengths we will discuss in this article are:

  1. Sustained focus
  2. Process discipline
  3. Quality fixation
  4. Pursuit of mastery
  5. Analytical intensity

Quick Background on Autism Spectrum Disorder

Autism is the fastest growing disability in the United States. One in 59 children will be diagnosed with autism before they turn 10.  A half million Americans with autism will enter the workforce in the next decade. Most individuals and families are now touched by and/or know someone with autism. Undoubtedly, these personal connections will increase over the next decade.

As we talk about people with autism, it is important to understand that autism is a spectrum. There are a wide range of different capabilities along the spectrum. A significant portion of these individuals have talents well suited for the business world.

AutonomyWorks was founded to create jobs for people with autism. We leverage the talents of these individuals — combined with customized technology, training processes, and management systems — in supporting companies.

 

Five Areas of Strength

1. Sustained Focus

Most organizations rely on entry-level staff to execute core operational tasks – from quality assurance to reporting and data management. Often, new staff are expected to perform these tasks all day, every day. They start strong but within months, just as they are gaining experience, the typical employee becomes bored. They struggle to maintain quality and productivity. High employee turnover is often the result.

In contrast, professionals with autism prefer to work on the same tasks repeatedly. They do not get bored. They work as fast and accurately on the last tasks of the day as they did on the first tasks of the day. The alignment between work and talent comes through in AutonomyWorks’ turnover rate. Less than 10% of Associates leave each year.

 

2. Process Discipline

AutonomyWorks typically operates in the following process areas:

These processes share many characteristics. They require consistent execution. Best practices can be defined. Special situations require customized handling. They often include interactions with proprietary systems or other technologies. Every person in the organization should be able to deliver these processes the same way every time.

However, in most companies, job knowledge passes from person to person informally. An experienced team member demonstrates a task for the new person a few times and then leaves them on their own. When the new worker gets stuck or confused, they interrupt a coworker – or just guess on the next step. As this process is repeated over and over, the process mutates creating multiple versions, approaches, and tools. It becomes impossible to predict the outcome from each execution.

People with autism excel at the structure and consistency required for reliable process execution. They complete every step in every task every time. They learn to identify and address a wide range of issues and exceptions. Turnover is low, so the expertise is retained without frequent training and recruiting. At AutonomyWorks, many of our clients have seen reductions in errors of 90% or more.

 

3. Quality Fixation

People with autism are detail oriented. This ability to notice details enables them to identify errors or mistakes in anything.  For example, that could be:

  • Looking at a piece of advertising creative
  • Validating a huge data file
  • Reviewing a website

These professionals can understand the details and how the details should work together. They can see when the details are wrong in vast and repetitive streams. They identify issues that most professionals, especially young professionals, will not see.

Adults with autism have a real passion, bordering on obsession, with things being correct. Not only are they able to identify errors and issues, but it is also very important for them that the issues are corrected. When things are not accurate it causes people with autism anxiety. AutonomyWorks has developed a system and process that taps into this strength so that anxiety is removed and the team’s passion for accuracy and detail is rewarded.

One of our core services is quality assurance. On average, AutonomyWorks clients find that our BPO teams identify three times the number of errors found by internal teams when reviewing the same content and/or data. 

 

4. Pursuit of Mastery

Today, most entry level staff seek a variety of experiences where they can build their skills and resume. They prefer superficial exposure to many different tasks over gaining extensive experience and knowledge in any one task. If they feel they can gain new experiences in a different role or with a different company, they will not hesitate to switch. Only about 30% of new college graduates spend more than a year in their first job.

Professionals with autism prefer to build deep expertise and knowledge of limited set of tasks. They would rather master a small set of tasks than experiment with many different tasks. Knowledge and experience are retained on tasks for years improving both quality and productivity. At AutonomyWorks, one of our Associates has been performing the same set of tasks for more than eight years. It is still his favorite client and his preferred work.

 

5. Analytical Intensity

Today’s businesses create an immense amount of data. More and more decisions rely on data and analysis – often from multiple parts of the organization. Staff must be comfortable with numbers, spreadsheets, and related tools. Too often, entry level hires lack the basics of analytical problem solving.

AutonomyWorks employees enjoy math and have excellent analytical skills. Because of their attention to detail and drive for accuracy, they can recognize patterns and outliers a typical employee would not see. Most of our employees also love technology. And the same attention to detail and dedication to mastery gives them the aptitude to learn new software platforms quickly. Because they have an intuitive sense for rules and processes, they understand the nuances of new software products and easily adapt to platforms and platform upgrades.

 

Recruiting Talent on Autism Spectrum 

 

In this 60 Minutes segment Andersen Cooper explores how and why more companies are discovering the unique skills and potential people with autism offer. The segment includes interviews with several AutonomyWorks employees and Founder David Friedman

 

What are the Business Benefits of Working with Adults with Autism

Four Immediate Benefits of Working with AutonomyWorks?

 AutonomyWorks was founded to create jobs for people with autism. We leverage the unique talents of individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), and combine these professionals with technology and systems design, to provide both exceptional quality and cost competitive solutions. 

Our team and our processes create tangible benefits to any corporation looking to lower costs and increase quality.  In this short article we will discuss four benefits of partnering with AutonomyWorks.  The benefits we will discuss are:

  1. The cause – Why it is such an important issue
  2. Higher quality – How and why we improve quality
  3. Lower costs – How we lower costs
  4. Employee engagement – How we reduce turnover and employee churn

One – The Cause: How many opportunities do you have to change a life?

We often ask our clients and potential partners a simple question: how many opportunities do you have to change a life? In your whole life, you will be lucky if you have even a few chances to permanently change the trajectory of an individual’s life. 

Partnering with AutonomyWorks gives you the chance to impact lives sustainably – not through charity but through a mutually beneficial business relationship based on two simple truths:

  1. As you create jobs and employ these talented professionals, their lives and the lives of their families are immediately transformed.
  2. When you tap the unique professional strengths of adults with autism, you gain a competitive advantage and realize quantifiable business benefits.

Autism is the fastest growing disability in the United States.  One in 59 children will be diagnosed with autism.  Half a million Americans with autism will enter the workforce in the next decade.

Autism has the highest level of unemployment of any disability. 80% of adults with autism are unemployed. Many of the employed are working in low-skill jobs that do not leverage their natural talents. Not tapping this resource comes with an overall cost of to the U.S economy of more than $250 billion annually.

A job is a core part of how all people identify themselves. People with autism are no different. For most of our team, AutonomyWorks is their first paying job. Time and time again, we see new Associates move from struggling with a limited future to flourishing individuals with higher self-esteem and greater independence.  

The Impact of Employing Adults with Autism

Karrie Pece, Director of Talent and Operations explains the immediate and long-term impact you can have on people’s lives.

Two – Higher Quality: How much is poor quality costing your business?

Poor quality impacts your top-line and bottom-line. It upsets your customers and creates openings for competitors. Quality issues create rework and crush the efficiency of your team. They undermine your brand and reputation.

Quality outputs require focus, process discipline, and attention to detail. You must do the right things, the right way, every single time. People with autism can maintain focus for extended periods. They follow every process step every time – with no shortcuts. They pay attention to the details. A team of people with autism can virtually eliminate the errors that are damaging your business. 

Companies have tried many different solutions to address chronic quality issues, including entry-level staff, contractors, and offshore teams. Regardless of the approach, most teams struggle to maintain the attention to detail and high level of focus required to deliver quality outputs.

Even if they can maintain focus for a short time, most staff look for new challenges after only a few months on the work.

People with autism bring a unique set of talents to this work. As discussed earlier, they maintain focus and process-discipline over time. They are highly attentive to accuracy and details. Furthermore, people with autism prefer to work on similar tasks consistently day to day enabling them to build deep expertise in their tasks and roles.

 

Three – Lower Costs: How much of your enterprise value is lost to inefficiency?

 Waste and inefficiency can cripple your business. They cut into your margins and consume money that could be invested in growth and profitability. They reduce your ability to beat more productive competitors. And, they reduce profits, bonuses, and share price.

AutonomyWorks lowers your costs in two ways. First, as discussed above, AutonomyWorks improves the quality of critical outputs and services eliminating rework and improving customer relationships.

Second, people with autism are simply more productive. They spend more of their time attending to tasks than typical employees. They are not easily distracted therefore they are able to produce more output in each time period. 

 AutonomyWorks has created a business system and training process that unlocks the talents of people with autism and allows them to flourish and excel in a business environment. Based on the groundbreaking work of Karrie Pece, AutonomyWorks’ Director of Talent and Operations, AutonomyWorks has built custom hiring, training, and management tools and processes that empower the team.

 

Four – Employee Engagement: Do your employees love you?

Companies with highly engaged employees are more productive and more profitable. Yet, even before the pandemic, only 34% of US employees were fully engaged at work (Gallup, 2018). Perhaps more concerning, close to 15% were actively disengaged – looking to minimize effort and, eventually, leave. Remote work and COVID-19 have stressed the relationship further. Many organizations have seen productivity and collaboration fall while burn-out and disengagement have skyrocketed.

Partnering with AutonomyWorks impacts two core building blocks of engagement. First, the partnership allows you to improve job content for your employees. Repetitive, detail-oriented tasks are the worst part of many jobs. Shifting this work to AutonomyWorks frees your employees to work on more engaging and creative tasks.

Second, partnering with AutonomyWorks demonstrates your commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. In most companies, more than 20% of employees have a disability. Many more are caring for family members with disabilities. Autism is the fastest growing disability in America. Undoubtedly, many of your employees are close to someone with autism.

Partnering with AutonomyWorks immediately creates jobs for people with autism in the community. It demonstrates the type of concrete action and impact that builds loyalty and engagement among your staff.

 

Summary

The world is evolving at breakneck speed with new tools, new data, and new metrics appearing nearly every week. These innovations give organizations countless new ways to improve operations and better reach and engage customers and partners. Unfortunately, there is a downside – an exponential increase in operational complexity.

Successful execution demands trained teams able to implement and optimize at exceptional levels of quality. The challenges of recruiting, retaining, and motivating teams adds further complexity. For many tasks requiring high-quality execution, most people are unable or unwilling to maintain the required level of focus. Turnover is high. Job satisfaction and engagement are low. This is where AutonomyWorks steps in.

We have made supporting a worthy cause and increasing organizational diversity, seamless.  And at the same time, AutonomyWorks frees our clients from this complexity and management burden. Your team can focus on strategy, while AutonomyWorks ensures that your vision comes to life.

A partnership between your organization and AutonomyWorks can generate a sustainable ROI quickly.   When the scale exceeds five FTEs, most clients experience increased quality and lower cost with a positive Return on Investment within 10 weeks.  In the short video below David Friedman discusses best practices to drive this quick ROI in one of four areas:

The ideal projects for AutonomyWorks are in areas and processes with three to five FTEs, high employee turnover and where quality is essential.