Anita Murphy Explains What Neurodiverse Employees Can Bring to Your Small Business

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If you are operating a small business during the Great Resignation, you may be left with a shortage of talent. However, there may be an option for help that you aren’t aware of: hiring neurodiverse workers.

In this latest episode of Small Biz in: 15, Anita Murphy, the CEO of One Bridge Center, a company specializing in training these individuals for the workforce of the 21st century, sits down with Shawn Hessinger, the Executive Editor for Small Business Trends, to discuss the many reasons why it’s a good idea to Hire neurodiverse employees for your organization.

If you are someone interested in finding out more about how to dip into this underserved talent pool, you won’t want to miss this episode: Why You Should Hire Neurodiverse Employees for Your Small Business.

You can catch up to Anita Murphy at One Bridge Center if you need more information after watching this episode.

Understanding the Value of Neurodiverse Workers in the WorkPlace

Shawn: What pain points for small business owners does the hiring of neurodiverse employees address?

Anita: People with developmental disabilities or people with disabilities, in general, make up 70% of the unemployed. And a lot of business owners do not recognize their value. I would say 80% of the people that we serve are autistic, and they usually don’t interview well.

“And so there is an education piece that comes into this and educating the employer and making them understand that just because neurodiverse job candidates don’t interview well doesn’t mean they can’t do the work.

A few examples of things the neurodiverse are good at include:

    • Technical work: A lot of times they get overlooked for very technical work, which they’re really good at.
    • Memory: Neurodiverse employees can memorize things. They can hold a lot of information. Not all, but a lot of them can.
    • Using their unique skill sets: Some of them have some very unique skills, and they can learn computer programming. Anything to do with tech, they can usually grasp pretty easily.

Also, I think that employers should consider hiring people with developmental disabilities, especially considering that science is proving that they are more productive in some.”

Steps for Managing and Integrating Neurodiverse Employees

Shawn: What steps do small business owners need to take to integrate neurodiverse employees into their workforce?

Anita: When you are talking about how to prepare to have a neurodiverse individual in their workplace, a lot of it comes down to partnering with companies or agencies to, first of all, provide the education on how to work with individuals who are neurodiverse. And then, second, understanding what you would need.

“However, it’s kind of hard to answer the question in regards to what they would need because every individual is so different. You may have someone who needs or doesn’t need certain technology for whatever the job entails. For instance, in cases of autism, they don’t like flashing lights and things like that. That could be a deterrent for them.

So it just kind of depends, and every individual is different. But I think that if you work with organizations that work with people who are disabled every single day, you have a better chance of success.

And so..even agencies like mine or companies like mine will work with an employer to place an individual who is developmentally delayed and provide that job coaching for them. Furthermore, we don’t just place a person and then just leave them there. Instead, organizations like One Bridge Center provide job coaching to help both the individual and the employer ensure their success.”

Shawn: What do you say to small business owners who worry that hiring neurodiverse employees might negatively impact their operations?

Anita: In the past, people and employers would think that. But now that’s not the case because they’ve realized that it doesn’t cost you anything extra to place an individual who is neurodiverse.

“And it doesn’t necessarily require anything outside of the box, you know, just something as simple as having a bathroom—and you have someone with a physical disability and they’re able to get in and out.

That’s simple, and most businesses have that. So a lot of times the individual, when they’re being placed into a workplace, they usually come with what they need.

Therefore, if a person needs a special keyboard, then the state will pay for that for them. Usually, individuals are coming through a vocational rehabilitation program in their state, and that agency will ensure that they have any type of assistive technology that they may need so that the employer is not having to necessarily bear that cost.”

Shawn: What are some of the major misconceptions that employers have about neurodiverse employees? And then could you maybe debunk some of those?

Anita: The first misconception is that they cannot work. That is so far from the truth, and they can be taught to do the work just like anyone else.

“The second misconception is that they would have to spend a lot of time teaching them. That is why a neurodiverse individual usually has a job coach who helps them resolve challenges with the job.

The third misconception is that they may not mix well with the team, which is not true, either. Neurodiverse people are very friendly, and they like being around others.

Another thing that people think is that they’re not going to last long, which is not true. They have higher attendance. They’re usually there every day, all the time. All the time.

Moreover, in terms of production, they are usually very high producers. And that’s because they’re excited about their work. They’re excited every morning. Now, most Americans are not excited about going to work all the time. But most individuals who are neurodivers are.”

How to Become a Neurodiverse Employer

Be sure to tune in to watch the rest of the video where Anita Murphy gives examples of successful case studies and explains how small businesses can go about placing a neurodiverse individual within their organization.

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