This summary is provided by the IPR Organizational Communication Research Center and the IPR Center for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion based on the original study

Dr. Maira Ezerins and colleagues examined the state of the neurodivergent workforce. They aimed to bridge the gap between the realms of autism theory and management theory, ultimately offering actionable insights for the inclusion of neurodivergent individuals in the workplace, including people with autism. The study offers strategies for successful integration and retention of employees with autism.

The research team conducted a systematic review of existing literature on this subject. They conducted an extensive search in November 2021 to identify peer-reviewed journal articles related to management and neurodiversity. The final sample comprised a total of 287 articles.

Key findings include:
1.) The authors identified various challenges that autistic individuals face both before gaining employment and after securing a job. These challenges include difficulties navigating the interview process, greater perceptions of ambiguity in recruitment materials, and communication challenges that inhibit autistic individuals from asking for instruction and help on the job.
2.) Researchers also highlighted significant gaps in the existing research and suggested that future studies should delve into the influence of leadership on autistic employees.
— They emphasized the need to address the “double empathy problem,” which denotes issues in mutual understanding among individuals with distinct cognitive, interpretative, and interactive patterns.
3.) The authors stressed the importance of establishing psychological safety to encourage employees to disclose their autism. This psychological safety entails employees feeling secure in taking interpersonal risks.

Implications for Practice:
Organizations should take the following steps to create a more inclusive and supportive workplace: 1) Provide training to managers on effectively supporting employees on the autism spectrum, including enhancing communication with autistic team members; 2) Implement universal approaches that advocate for the accommodation of all employees’ needs to reduce managerial stress and promote an inclusive environment; and 3) Offer training to neurotypical coworkers to minimize negative reactions to accommodation measures.

Click here to learn more about how organizations can enhance the employment experiences of autistic individuals.

Ezerins, M. E., Simon, L. S., Vogus, T. J., Gabriel, A. S., Calderwood, C., & Rosen, C. C. (2023). Autism and Employment: A Review of the “New Frontier” of Diversity Research. Journal of Management, 0(0).

Heidy Modarelli handles Growth & Marketing for IPR. She has previously written for Entrepreneur, TechCrunch, The Next Web, and VentureBeat.
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