10 Ways for HR to Support Autism Accommodations at Work

November 2023

Everyone can agree that it’s a positive step to embrace neurodiversity in the workplace. Neurodiverse employees contribute to businesses in numerous ways, from increased creativity to increased productivity overall. However, to unlock these benefits, businesses need to fully support their neurodiverse employees, particularly those with autism.

Studies reveal a staggering statistic: 50-75% of autistic adults in the US are underemployed or unemployed. A UK survey further underscores this issue, indicating that 51% of surveyed autistic workers believe their skills exceed the requirements of their jobs.


HR departments are responsible for accounting for neurodiverse needs and challenges in the workplace, including those for employees with autism. In this list, we’ve explored 10 ways that HR teams can create more autism-friendly workplaces.  

The foundation of HR support for autism lies in cultivating awareness and providing training. HR professionals should educate themselves about autism before conducting company-wide sessions on its characteristics and the challenges faced by employees on the spectrum.
Effective communication is key, but this may mean something different for employees with autism. HR should ensure that employees with autism receive clear, written communication about HR policies, procedures, and expectations. Visual aids and clear, step-by-step instructions can be particularly helpful.
Work with employees to identify any accommodations that can make their work environment more comfortable and conducive to productivity. Flexibility in work hours or locations can be a great help, as well as being mindful of meeting scheduling and quiet areas to decompress.
Individuals with autism often have sensory sensitivities that vary. Provide options for a sensory-friendly workspace, including adjustable lighting, noise-canceling headphones, access to sensory toys, and limited use of fragrances in workspaces and bathrooms.
For international assignments, offer comprehensive pre-assignment training that includes information about the destination's culture, work environment, and social norms. Address any potential challenges and provide coping strategies to those who might struggle.
Feeling connected to and supported by other employees with autism can be an essential step towards success in the workplace. Establish mentoring programs and support networks for employees with autism, especially those on international assignments to provide a resource for questions or concerns.

Encourage open and constructive feedback from employees with autism on how they feel HR policies and workplace conditions are working for them. According to a 2017 study, some of the most common barriers for autistic people when it comes to employment include:

  • Negative attitudes or low expectations
  • A lack of flexible employment support programmes
  • Unfair treatment in the workplace, such as bullying and discrimination
  • Issues around access to the working environment (transport etc.)

These are all issues that can be mitigated with the help of a proactive HR department. 

Helping autistic employees to feel more comfortable begins right at their first interview. HR can influence the recruitment process by adopting more inclusive practices, such as focusing on skills assessments, maintaining clear communication channels, and being mindful of sensory issues during interviews.
Open dialogue is essential to making sure autistic employees feel heard and respected. Schedule regular 1:1s with those with autism to gauge how they might be feeling and if they need any extra support.

Just like any other employee, it’s important to mark the achievements of employees with autism and to praise their unique skillsets. According to the National Disability Authority of Ireland, workers with autism can display the following strengths:

  • High attention to detail, accuracy and quality of work
  • Long-term memory capacity, with ability to recall detailed facts and figures
  • Strong adherence to routines, rules and regulations and appreciation of repetitious tasks
  • Expert, in-depth knowledge of one or more chosen subject areas
  • Enhanced ability for pattern recognition
  • Being hard working and intensely focused


HR plays an essential role in creating inclusive environments. By implementing the strategies and supports mentioned above, businesses can harness the unique talents and perspectives that neurodivergent employees, including those with autism, bring to the global workforce. 

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