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Autism Workforce > Customers

Solving Workforce Challenges...Together

IMEC is a team of improvement specialists and technicians dedicated to providing organizations in Illinois with the tools and techniques to create sustainable competitive futures. The experienced hands-on team at IMEC works closely with its clients to plan critical business improvements in the areas of Leadership, Strategy, Customer Engagement, Operations, and Workforce.

Maria Moran, IMEC Regional Manager, was consistently hearing from businesses that their biggest challenge was finding a consistent workforce in entry level positions. After having toured Autism Workforce jobs at Hart Schaffner Marx, Maria recognized that they Autism Workforce was in many ways doing 5S processes – but with an autism twist. She believed finding a neurodiversity hiring partner could not only help companies, but also help a talented workforce in need of meaningful employment. Thus, AW & IMEC neurodiversity hiring partnership began.

Together, AW and IMEC help small, medium, and large companies grow and compete with neurodiversity hiring programs as a strategic workforce solution while making a profound social impact.

Punctual, Dependable, and Happily Working with Everyone

Gilster-Mary Lee (GML) is a leading Private Label food manufacturer, headquartered in Chester, Illinois. GML produces over 8,000 items in over 500 different private label brands. Approximately 3,000 employees work in 14 different manufacturing facilities across four states.

GML was impacted with employee turnover during COVID-19 and after speaking to IMEC expert, Maria Moran, called on neurodiversity hiring partner, Autism Workforce, to help them start a neurodiversity hiring program as a strategic workforce solution in high turnover positions. From October, 2020 until February, 2020 GML successfully hired five neurodivergent individuals in their Pasta Plant. GML is now expanding to other plants.

Autism employment is proving to be a viable solution for many companies that experience workforce challenges. Autism Workforce and IMEC help Illinois manufacturers, like GML, grow and compete by utilizing autism employment as a strategic solution.

Scanning their Way to Better Business

For over three years, Prater Industries (Bolingbrook, IL) struggled to find employees to consistently and successfully scan, upload and organize their age-old documents – 70 years worth! Because the job is tedious, it was difficult for Prater to retain staff.  The leadership team at Prater reached out to IMEC to help them solve their challenge. The IMEC expert introduced the idea of creating a neurodiversity hiring program with Autism Workforce.

From the onset of the project, IMEC partnered with Autism Workforce (AW) to help Prater leverage their resources and gain easy access to files. Autism Workforce helped Prater align the workplace to suit an employee with autism and trained the Prater staff that would interact with their new neurodiverse employee. In January, 2019 supported by AW, Prater onboarded their first autistic employee and within a short period of time the employee was already producing far greater scans per hour than previous employees.

When COVID-19 hit, it was still vital to continue scanning these documents because having them available digitally was making the sales team’s job easier and more efficient. As a neurodiversity hiring partner, Autism Workforce worked with Prater to transition this job and employee t0 remote work.  Their employee with autism was able to transition successfully and is now scanning even more documents per week!

https://www.imec.org/client-successes/prater-industries-neurodiverse-workplace/

Tracking Data, Writing Code, and Thriving

Oliver Wyman (OW) is a global business management consultancy firm specializing in services to assist companies across industries improve their performance by providing expertise in operations, strategy, organization and risk management. With its headquarters in New York City, Oliver Wyman employs over 5,000 professionals in 60 cities across 29 countries.

In 2018, Oliver Wyman partnered with Autism Workforce to explore whether hiring a person on the Autism spectrum would work for their Actuarial Practice. OW’s motive was not to be intended as a charitable one; its aim would be to return value to the company.

Oliver Wyman welcomed their first Autism hire in January, 2019 in Chicago and the employee’s skills quickly exceeded their expectations. OW has since expanded his hours and responsibilities as he continues to excel. Given the success and value added, Oliver Wyman is continuing to partner with Autism Workforce to expand their autism employment initiative to offices across the country.

A Tailored Solution

HSM is an American manufacturer of tailored menswear with headquarters in Chicago, Illinois. Doug Williams, CEO, was motivated by his own experience of having a son with autism and by the growing number of employment-aged adults with autism, to hire from this untapped workforce. However, to create jobs for autistic adults that would be purposeful to HSM, sustainable for the autistic hires, and to successfully prepare his current employees he realized he could not do this alone. After reading the New York Times Article about David Geslak, he gave him a call.

Together Doug, David and the Autism Workforce team helped to pioneer an autism employment processes for hiring those with autism in a manufacturing setting. In total, HSM hired 7 autistic adults in 4 different departments (customer service, special orders, distribution and information technology). The innovation and success of AW’s autism employment model attracted the attention of Universities and researchers to understand how they made this happen – especially jobs for autistic adults who required a higher-level of support, or not perceived to be on the high end of the spectrum.

Creating a Spark in their Factory and Community

G&W Electric engineers flexible solutions for companies in the utility, industrial and commercial sectors.The involvement of all employees within G&W Electric is an integral component of the continued progress and commitment to quality. In 2019 G&W was discussing their social impact initiatives, as serindioudly, IMEC expert Maria Moran reached out.

After talking with G&W HR team, Maria discovered that they were using skilled workers to complete entry level tasks. This was reducing productivity for G&W and not leveraging the strengths of their skilled workforce. After meeting with Autism Workforce, G&W hired two individuals. And a bonus to G&W was they also hired an engineer with autism. After applying for the entry-level position, G&W was impressed by his degree and made him part of the paid internship program – of which he is now a full time employee. In 2021, G&W began their hiring efforts again in entry level positions, for two more hires. And who knows, maybe they will get another unexpected hire!

Temp Agencies? Not Always the Reliable or Cost-Effective Solution

Originally founded in 1974, in Elgin, Illinois as Wise-Hamlin Plastics, later becoming Wise Plastics Technologies, Inc., today operates in a world-class manufacturing facility in St. Charles, Illinois. They have enjoyed continuous growth for the past forty-six years through innovation, building a team of skilled industry professionals and relying on the latest manufacturing technologies and lean manufacturing principles.

Wise Plastics, a client of IMEC, was also experiencing staffing issues in entry level positions, as well as the high cost of using temp. Agenices to find employees. In 2020, they worked with Autism Workforce to hire two individuals with autism and continue their efforts to find more available positions.