Productivity is an essential quality in any workplace.
This blog is part six of Transitions’ series on Qualities Employers Look for in Job Candidates. Every person has something great to offer a workplace, including young people with autism and learning disabilities. There are certain universal qualities that all top employees possess, regardless of their industry or job level. This series will present a few of those qualities and the ways in which you as a parent, teacher or service provider can help teach them to the young adult in your life with autism or other learning disabilities.
This week’s installment discusses a quality that applicable to every kind of work, but can be a challenge to even the most competent of employees: productivity.
In any job, the ability to get work done well and in a timely fashion is highly prized. This goes beyond simple work ethic, though. There are many skills and traits necessary to good productivity that some young people with learning differences may need extra support to cultivate, including:
- Organization of both digital and physical materials
- Time management
- Executive functioning skills
- Focus and follow-through on all tasks
- Punctuality, both in terms of arriving to work and meetings on time and of meeting deadlines and work obligations
How You Can Help:
- Work with the young adult to identify their deficits in executive functioning, time management and organizational skills. Then, brainstorm and implement techniques to help them overcome these deficits, such as pre-printed shopping and to-do lists, alarm reminders, and color-coded folder and binder systems.
- Give your young adult supplies that encourage organization and productivity and work well for the individual and their work setting. Examples include planners, calendars, white boards, corkboards, sticky notes and visual aids. Teach the young adults how to use these tools to work more efficiently by writing out and planning each task they are responsible for. Calendars are especially useful for productivity because they can be used to break tasks into steps and plan deadlines for each component step. This keeps the person focused, on track and in control of their progress.
- Encourage young adults to schedule moments in their day to clean their workspaces, organize their belongings and make sure they are on track to finish all their obligations for the day.
- Teach young adults to advocate for reasonable accommodations that may support them with productivity in the workplace, such as recording meetings with an audio device. Even something as simple as collaborating with a supervisor to write checklists of tasks that need to be accomplished can foster not only productivity but also a professional understanding between boss and employee.
It is not always easy to put aside distractions, self-doubt and deficits in executive functioning skills to become a productive worker, but it is far from impossible. By working hard and building a framework of tools and habits, anyone can become the type of worker any job site would be lucky to have. For more information about Transitions and how its programs help young adults with autism and learning disabilities learn to harness their skills and become productive adults through courses that focus on time management, organization and more, contact us at (518) 775-5384.
About the Author:
Gina Warsaw teaches Career Success courses at Transitions, which cover professional presentation, preparing resumes and cover letters, job searching, basic job skills, interacting professionally in the workplace and more. She has almost 30 years of experience supporting people with disabilities to reach their life goals, including more than 10 years focused on helping people transition into integrated community employment opportunities. Gina is currently the Director of Day Supports at The Arc Lexington.