Anita Murphy explains what Neurodiverse employees can do for your small business


If you’re running a small business during the Great Retirement, you may be short of talent. However, there may be an option for help that you may not be aware of: hiring neurodiverse workers.

In this latest episode of Small Biz in: 15, Anita Murphy, the CEO of One Bridge Center, a company that specializes in training these individuals for the workforce of the 21st century, meets 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’re someone who wants to learn more about how to dive into this underserved talent pool, don’t miss this episode: Why you should hire Neurodiverse employees for your small business.

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

Understanding the value of neurodiverse employees in the workplace

Shawn: What pain points for small business owners does hiring neurodiverse workers solve?

Anita: People with developmental disabilities or people with disabilities generally make up 70% of the unemployed. And many entrepreneurs fail to recognize their value. I would say that 80% of the people we serve are autistic, and they usually don’t interview well.

“And so here’s an educational part and educating the employer and making them understand that just because neurodiverse applicants don’t apply well doesn’t mean they can’t do the job.

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

Technical work: Often they are overlooked for highly technical work, which they are very good at.remember: Neurodiverse employees can remember things. They can contain a lot of information. Not all, but many are.Using their unique skills: Some of them have some very unique skills and can learn to program. They can usually understand anything related to technology quite easily.

I also think employers should consider hiring people with developmental disabilities, especially given that the science shows they are more productive in some ways.”

Steps to Manage and Integrate Neurodiverse Employees

Shawn: What steps should small business owners take to integrate neurodiverse workers into their workforce?

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

“However, it’s kind of hard to answer the question as to what they need because every individual is so different. Maybe you have someone who may or may not need certain technology for whatever the job entails. With autism, for example, they hold not flashing lights and things like that, that could be a deterrent to them.

So it kind of depends, and every individual is different. But I think if you partner with organizations that work with people with disabilities every day, you’re more likely to succeed.

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

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

Anita: People and employers used to think that. But now it isn’t, because they’ve realized that it doesn’t cost you anything extra to put a person who is neurodiverse.

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

It’s easy, and most companies have it. So often times when they are placed in a workplace the individual usually comes with what they need.

Therefore, if a person needs a special keyboard, the state will pay for it. Usually, individuals go through a vocational rehabilitation program in their state, and that agency will make sure they have all the kinds of assistive technology they need so that the employer doesn’t necessarily have to bear that cost.

Shawn: What are some of the biggest misconceptions employers have about neurodiverse workers? And could you possibly debunk some of them?

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

“The second misconception is that they should spend a lot of time teaching. That’s why a person with neurodiversity usually has a job coach to help them solve job challenges.

The third misconception is that they may not go well with the team, which is also not true. Neurodiverse people are very friendly and love to be around others.

Another thing people think is that they won’t last long, which is not true. They have a higher turnout. They are usually there every day, all the time. Always.

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

How do you 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 place a neurodiverse person in their organization.

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