It rapidly prepared the company to support all of its employees.
The world has changed in the last two months. While organizations implement measures to absorb changes, few of us were prepared for the seismic shifts that have occurred personally and professionally since COVID-19 impacted every aspect of our lives. In almost an instant, companies required employees to work from home, cancel travel, and halt normal operations because of the pandemic.
Senior leaders have been strategic to ensure ways their employees can remain connected, engaged, and productive during this worldwide crisis.
According to SAP’s Sarah Loucks, Global Lead for the AAW program, “Many people who have autism, or are neuro-diverse, rely on the structure, routine and continuity provided within our company – which has helped them be successful. Our company wants them to be unencumbered to bring their talents and skills to make a valuable contribution to SAP. As we prepared for our workforce to work remotely, we had to ensure the needs of our neuro-diverse employees were supported and integrated seamlessly. A few questions, which guide what we do are, ‘What should we do? What information is helpful for our employees? What can we do to ensure people have what they need?” The answers to these questions created best practices that support all employees, including those in the AAW program.”
SAP used this opportunity to create tactics to support AAW employees, as well as allies of the program, ensuring they had support and resources at their disposal, which included:
- Access to mentors, buddies or other colleagues to meet virtually for a coffee chat or lunch;
- Meetings with Job Coaches who offer virtual support groups focused on strategies for working from home and mental health; and
- Check-Ins by managers to provide clarifications on work assignments or expectations as a result of working remotely. Employees in the AAW program were informed that it’s essential to keep their manager informed of how they’re doing and if they need anything to perform while working from home successfully.
While many countries SAP has offices in have stay-at-home orders, creating a plan to support AAW employees during the COVID-19 crisis is the norm, not the exception. With a track record of implementing policies, practices, and procedures that integrate disability inclusion into the company’s culture, other organizations have sought guidance from SAP to create a similar model.
The inquiries were a catalyst to create the SAP Autism Inclusion Pledge, which aims to reshape thinking around employment possibilities for individuals on the autism spectrum. Organizations who take the pledge gain access to free content on SAP’s seven years of experience with the AAW Program. Through the pledge and its strategy to support AAW employees, SAP shines a light on the power of neurodiversity to fuel innovation, productivity, and inclusion.