Creating inclusive workplaces made easier for employers in New Zealand
A workplace manual aimed at improving employer confidence, employee productivity, job retention and the overall workplace success of autistic people is now available to New Zealand employers thanks to a collaboration between Autism CRC and Autism New Zealand. The Integrated Employment Success Tool (IEST) was developed specifically for employers in Australia and has now been adapted for the New Zealand workplace. It can be used across a variety of work environments and is free to access.
The team at Autism New Zealand have adapted the IEST to include information and weblinks about supports, services and resources available to workplaces in Aotearoa New Zealand.
“Autism New Zealand uses the IEST as an evidence-based framework in its Neurodivergent Employment Programmes to support organisations to be more inclusive,” said Megan McNeice Employment Facilitator from Autism New Zealand.
Autistic adults are often subject to unemployment, under-employment and social disadvantage. Skilled employment can be difficult to find and hard to retain, despite individuals being capable and motivated. According to ABS 2018 data more than one third of people on the autism spectrum are unemployed. This is more than three times the rate for people with disability and almost eight times the rate for people without disability.
“Autistic employees have diverse skills, strengths and interests that enable them to be successful in a variety of roles. The IEST empowers employers with the skills and confidence to make changes in the workplace to make it inclusive, bringing benefits to all employees and companies as a whole,” said Professor Sonya Girdler from Curtin University and Program Director of Autism CRC’s Adulthood Program.
The IEST was first released in Australia by Autism CRC in June 2021. It provides employers with information about:
- autism and the strengths of autistic employees
- the benefits of employing autistic individuals
- the employment process and important factors for successful employment
- strategies to implement workplace modifications
- a range of resources, including editable checklists and templates.
The manual is presented according to the phases of employment starting at advertising the job, through to the interview process, job commencement, workplace modification and how to maintain ongoing support. Each phase includes information on specific workplace requirements, tips and advice, questions to consider, and checklists.
Autism CRC research to explore the key factors for successful employment from both the viewpoints of autistic adults and employers found that there are three main factors for successful employment: workplace support; job expectations; and productivity requirements. Both groups agreed on each factor; however, each group had a different perspective. It is hoped that the IEST will assist in closing the gap between these perspectives to ensure successful employment.
Research suggests that the strategies presented in the IEST will benefit more than just the people who disclose their autism.
As one employer who trialled the IEST said, “...the IEST provided good overall information but we also realised that it cannot be designed for a specific industry, so we needed to consider which of the recommendations/guidelines in the IEST suited us. … The fact is, after doing this, we improved our recruitment and interview process for all employees.”