The Case for Hiring “Outlier” Employees

Jan 17, 2014 2:05 PM ET

Original blog by by Robert D. Austin and Thorkil Sonne on Harvard Business Revi…

A few months ago, software giant SAP announced plans to hire 650 new employees with autism.

Yes, autism—even though people on what’s known as the “autism spectrum” are often seen as unemployable. They typically have trouble interacting with others and tend to engage in repetitive behaviors. Only 15% have full-time jobs.

But this is no charitable gesture on SAP’s part. The company knows that some people with autism have an exceptional ability to focus on the repetitive, detailed work of software testing. The company’s initiative was inspired by the Danish IT firm Specialisterne (“The Specialists”), most of whose staff consultants have some form of diagnosed autism-spectrum disorder. As Torben Sorensen, a former Specialisterne consultant, puts it: “I have an ability to see when something deviates. It kind of leaps to the eye.”

Most companies don’t perceive the value of people with autism—or, for that matter, the value of other people who think or behave differently. Managers are unaware that outliers can create enormous value if they’re placed into environments that maximize their ability to contribute.

Continue reading the original article about SAP hiring employees with Autism on Harvard Business Review >>

Original source Harvard Business Review.