Inclusive talent management with Autimatic
As many as 30,000 professionals with an autism spectrum disorder are unable to find work in Belgium. Yet on average they are highly educated and have coveted skills. Autimatic is determined to capitalise on these assets and has devised a unique secondment concept to do so. Within the KMO Starters service, four Autimatic employees take care of the administrative connection of new customers. An inclusive project that is worth doing more!
“Our cooperation has been going for a good year and a half now,” says Geert Pauwels, founder and manager of Autimatic. “When a new SME customer starts up, our employees go through the entire administrative process. They follow a fixed flow: enter data, request missing data from the payroll consultant in question, apply sector-specific procedures and so on.”
of professionals with autism are unemployed
Many talents, few employment opportunities
Autimatic saw the light of day in 2019. For years, engineer Geert Pauwels took on various c-level positions in large companies. But his own son's autism spectrum disorder forced him to face the facts: despite their undeniable strengths and often solid educational background, labour-market opportunities for these professionals are very limited.
There are various reasons for this, as Geert knows from experience: “People with autism cannot sell themselves well during a job application. When it comes to hiring, they don't like landscape offices or the hustle and bustle of public transport. On top of that there is the social stress, the need for structure and the weight of a full-time work regime. The figures do not lie: 85% of professionals with autism are unemployed. Meanwhile, 70,000 vacancies remain unfilled.
Playing to the strengths of the individual in activities
One-and-a-half years on, Autimatic employs 25 professionals with an autism spectrum disorder through a system of secondment. With a waiting list of 400 registered candidates already, the company aims to double its work force every year. Everyone works from home, on fixed tasks and usually part-time. Geert: “We specialise in accurate administrative tasks, office automation and artificial intelligence. It is no coincidence that these are three areas in which we can fully deploy the strengths of our people. For SD Worx, we started in the summer of 2020 with two employees for the Antwerp region. In the course of 2021 the scope was extended to Flanders.”
Filip Vandecasteele, Business improvement manager at SD Worx: “The integration into our organisation was very spontaneous and today there are tremendous collegial ties. With a clear briefing, the teams work well together. The workload for the payroll consultants has been lightened, and the Autimatic colleagues work with great precision and drive. We are also looking at expanding our collaboration. At our Staffing Solutions department, for example, the day and week contracts of the interims also require a lot of detailed administrative follow-up.”
Focus on talents, not on limitations
Geert: Since communication is a classic stumbling block, we work with buddies within the SD Worx teams. These buddies have an insight into the range of tasks, the work status and the planning. We train them on how best to approach a briefing, announce changes in the work organisation or spread the workload. In this way, we create a safe and comfortable environment for everyone.
“Through the cooperation with Autimatic we have discovered professionals with enormous hidden talents”, Filip concludes. “It is therefore important to focus on that and not on any limitations. Hence a warm appeal to employers: embrace every talent, inclusive talent management is a win-win for all concerned.”