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Blog: Autism spectrum at work – let everyone succeed

Blog post

Are all professionals desirable employees? We at TEK work on behalf of more equal work life so that everyone has a chance to showcase their skills and find a job.

Statistics indicate that people on the autism spectrum are not treated equally in work life in Finland. According to an estimate by Autism Finland, only 10–25 per cent of adults on the autism spectrum are in some kind of employment. At the same time, the technology sector is one of the industries that is suffering from a shortage of talent. These industries will need approximately 130,000 new workers over the next ten years, according to the Technology Industries of Finland.

In light of these figures, one would assume that all professionals are desirable employees. People on the autism spectrum often possess qualities that make them good employees, such as a keen attention to detail, extensive knowledge in a particular area and a good visual memory. If a workplace has a recruitment process that treats all applicants fairly, candidates on the spectrum have a chance to get a job and showcase their skills.

Workplaces that embrace diversity pay attention to the clarity of instructions and practices, versatile and adaptable work environments and building awareness and understanding of neurodiversity. That is, understanding how the organization can accommodate, say, the autism spectrum or ADHD. These workplaces respect the diversity of people at work and are willing to adapt the environment to suit each employee. By giving more people opportunities to find a job and succeed in it, we will also be able to address the talent shortage more effectively.

Employer, take note of the amended Occupational Safety and Health Act

Occupational safety and health is also worth mentioning here. The Occupational Safety and Health Act provides a framework for how employers should take care of the health and safety of their employees. Amendments to the Occupational Safety and Health Act entered into force in the beginning of June 2023. Among other things, an amendment was made to Section 8 of the Act, which concerns the employers’ general duty to exercise care. The new amendment means that employees’ personal abilities may also require individual occupational safety and health measures.

Work culture and its measurement and development should be regularly addressed in management meetings and employee events.

When it comes to the autism spectrum and occupational safety and health, Section 8 of the Act and especially its amendment should be taken into account in workplaces both in terms of day-to-day work and occupational safety and health policies. The measures in question could include adjustments to an employee's duties or amount of work and individual arrangements in the working environment and working hours.

Better work culture benefits everyone

TEK wants to make not only its own organization but all the workplaces in the tech sector diverse and inclusive so that every employee has the opportunity to show their strengths, embrace their differences and be themselves. This year, we will be working on this theme especially by educating ourselves and sharing knowledge and understanding of neurodiversity at work with our members and employee representatives.

Work culture is extremely important for each member of the work community. It affects a variety of things, such as performance and the quality of work, job satisfaction, sense of safety, willingness to cooperate and the quality of interactions. Work culture and its measurement and development should be regularly addressed in management meetings and employee events. Workplaces should aim for a type of work culture that inspires confidence and safety, so that everyone feels like they can be open about their health conditions and various individual characteristics at work, including ones that the employer is not allowed to ask about. Who wouldn’t want to work in a place like this?