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The Element You Are Missing When it comes to Employee Attraction & Retention- Employment Branding To Attract Neurodistinct Talent

 


The Element You Are Missing When it comes to Employee Attraction & Retention-

Employment Branding To Attract Neurodistinct Talent

By Carole Jean Whittington

 

We were at dinner recently and a friend asked the group, “What do you think it’s like to work at Google?”  The replies ranged from “fun, creative, casual, cutting edge, innovative, outside the box thinking, you matter as an employee, excellent pay and inclusive.”  I think we all agreed it would be amazing to work at Google.  And since none of us at dinner that night have ever worked for Google, I think it is a great example of how powerful employment branding can be.

Most of us are very familiar with product or company branding, think Nike and the swish logo and tag line “Just….” You filled in the blank with “do it” didn’t you?  The most globally recognizable company brand right now after two years of lock down is the happy image on the side of a brown box waiting on your front porch- the Smile on an Amazon box.  Just as the branding of a company or a product becomes easily recognizable even to those who have never purchased anything, employment branding is equally as impactful.

What is an employment brand?

An employment brand is the market perception of what it’s like to work for an organization.  This brand perception can include: company culture, work environment, and even benefits.  It is what someone feels, thinks and believes it is like to work for your company.  The employment brand identity influences prospective, current and prior employees. 

Why should your company create an employment brand that will attract neurodistinct talent?

My presentation in the upcoming International Institute for Learning’s Leadership and Innovation Conference on March 3rd is titled: Accessing Untapped Talent After The Great Resignation to Improve Engagement & Retention.  The current workforce shifts have left a sizeable gap between positions to be filled and the shrinking pool of applicants.  There is an untapped talent pool, which up to now have not had access or the ability to enter the workforce due to the structure of work as we used to know it.  In today’s world, we are seeing a permanent adoption of both flexible and remote work in a variety of sectors and positions.  Working remotely from home is no longer the elite “bonus” for a select group of employees. 

Most companies today have an online presence and that includes social media from Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to YouTube and TikTok.  Those social media posts require graphic images, well written copy that converts scrollers to customers and some of the most incredibly talented Neurodistinct media managers I know have workflows and processes that make all those parts come together like choreography in a Broadway show.  Each one of those positions could be a contract or freelance employee who works remotely and is Autistic, ADHD or one of the many neurodivergent neurotypes who excel in these areas.  The neurodistinct brain is built for so much more than just tech or IT. 

I recently asked the Mind Your Autistic Brain community what areas they studied and what talents and skills they have that would align with the workforce.  The results were from every field of study from a master’s in public health with a specialty in geographical contagion, advertising and photography with a specialty in stop motion videos, public relations with a focus on disability services, to an attorney who specializes in legal contracts for small business.  These are all autistic or autistic ADHD adults who are skilled in areas that may surprise you.  There were several who responded who have worked in customer service, sales and as personal shoppers. 

The reality is that the majority of those I spoke with who were highly skilled and often have Master’s degrees and PhDs were either unemployed or under-employed.  The most heartbreaking was to learn that one woman who has her Master’s in Public Health and a focus in geographical contagion had been applying to the CDC for the last 7 years for a position.  She could be the person who solves our current global health crisis.

When I probed a bit deeper within the community and began asking what challenges most faced when looking for a job the list was topped by the interview process followed by the silent social demands and sensory challenges.  Many self-select out of the process after reading the job description or viewing the company’s website and finding that everything they encountered excluded them from being a part of that company. Not once was it a lack of skills or abilities but the perception and ease of access to the job and company.

How does an effective neurodiverse employment brand help you attract the talent you need, flip the script from a compensation only approach and to engage and retain the talent you have and the talent you recruit?

When you have done the work to create an effect neurodiverse employment brand by:

·         Researching and fully knowing your neurodistinct candidates from unique language and communication to sensory and accommodation needs,

·         Reviewing and Identifying companies in your industry who are successfully building neurodiverse employment brands and ones who are not doing it well,

·         Successfully executing the right images, language and company culture and positioning your company to attract and motivate action by the aligned ideal candidates

You will reap the rewards of creating a neurodiverse employment brand that creates urgency and a desire to work for your company by the highly skilled talent you are seeking, messaging that speaks to the heart of all potential and current employees, and a deeper connection with your workforce because everyone feels they have a place to thrive.

What are the hidden elements in a neurodiverse employment brand?

There are hidden elements in creating a neurodiverse employment brand that when not properly executed will repel potential employees and you will never get the opportunity to hire them.  They will take their innovative thinking, loyalty, glorious work ethic and in demand skills elsewhere.  And to the other side of this, there are employees you currently have who are neurodistinct and may be struggling in silence even though they hit all their targets.  These current employees will thrive and reach goals you couldn’t even fathom when they feel valued and that their neurotype is welcomed.

One of the biggest hidden elements in an effective neurodiverse employment brand is language and symbols.

The following are hidden elements that will REPEL most potential neurodistinct talent:

-Person first language (person with autism)  

-Puzzle Piece symbols

-Blue

-Incorrect usage of terminology such as Neurodiverse vs. Neurodivergent

-Using medical terminology such as symptoms or diagnosis

On the whole, the autistic community prefers identity first language which would be, “I am autistic.”  The preference goes back to autism not being separate of the person like a disease but that being autistic is who someone is at their core.  The puzzle piece has been a hot bed of contention for many years with autistics who feel the symbol conveys we are missing parts of ourselves and are not whole humans.  Color is a big deal not just the color blue but the colors you use on your website being eye friendly along with accessible fonts for dyslexics.  Blue is associated with a large autism organization that is strongly avoided by autistics.  There are several organizations that speak over autistic voices and are not supported by the autistic community at large. Having any logos or promotions in your branding associated with these organizations can be a quick turn off.  Let’s talk terms for a moment.

Neurotypical: This refers to the typical neurotype that is most common in humans.

Neurodivergent: This is the term made popular by the book NeuroTribes written by Steve Silberman describing people whose neurotype varied from typical thought patterns and behaviors.  Neurodivergent includes Autistics, ADHDers, Dyslexics, Dyspraxics and more.

Neurodiversity: Was coined by sociologist and fellow autist Judy Singer in the early 90’s as a way to describe a new movement towards neurological diversity being recognized, accepted, and respected.

I use the term NeuroDistinct in place of the term neurodivergent.  The term neurodistinct was coined by my good friend, fellow autistic and Googler Tim Goldstein.  He and I agree that from a marketing standpoint and a human behavioral perspective no one wants to be “divergent” but everyone wants to be thought of a “distinct.”

IF the language and communication element seem too foreign to wrap your head around at the moment that is totally OK.  There is an easy solution just like having a pocket translator when you travel to convert one language to your own, The Neurodiverse Communication EcoSystem. 

Autism is a variation in neural function and processing it is not a disease to be caught.  Autism has previously been heavily reliant on a broken medical model that poorly represented the actual autistic experience and abilities.  Autism has traits not symptoms.  Hopefully, these top insights are bringing some light to areas you may not have noticed until now.  That’s amazing and puts you ahead of the competition. 

Improving your Neurodiverse Employment Brand

To determine if you have a powerful and attractive neurodiverse employment brand that is working FOR you start by asking yourself this question:  Why did I choose to work for my company?  To get a copy of The Neurodiverse Employment Assessment worksheet Click the following link: https://socialautie.ck.page/1f72722358


Carole Jean Whittington is the Founder and Principal of Mind Your Autistic Brain.  She is the host of the Mind Your Autistic Brain Talk Show on podcast and YouTube and the creator of The Neurodiverse Employment Brand, The Neurodiverse Communication EcoSystem and The UnVeiling Method  and leader of the #NeurodistinctEmploymentMovement.  You can find Carole Jean most Saturdays trail running with her retriever Easter or hiking with her partner Josh in their home state of Kentucky in the Daniel Boone National Forest.  

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