can we talk about GOOD companies for a change? — Ask a Manager

I had a rough start at my company. I was getting back after being burned out, I’m a late diagnosed autistic person, and this was the first full time job without special support I’d have after some years recovering and getting extra support in the workplace. My last job before that had laid me off because of covid, but things had been going well at 75% and I thought I might be able to deal with full time.

I was not. Within two weeks I had to go on sick leave because the only thing I could do when I got home was to cry, make food (had to multitask those), stare at a wall, go to sleep. So I called them and said “hey, just so you know, I can do full time. I’m autistic, I’ve been burned out before, I’m going to need to start at 50% and then work my way up, and I might never reach 40h a week because that’s just too little recovery time at home for me. I fully get it if this doesn’t work for you, but it’s what I have to offer. ”

And miraculously I’d made an impression somehow in my interview and in those two weeks. It was more complicated than I would have liked, because I was hired in through a staffing agency and there was a lot of weird red tape and a whole mess I won’t bore you with, but now it’s soon to be three years later, I’m hired by the company outright, I work 85% which means 7h instead of 8h every day except for Tuesday when I go home after 6h to get the government funded home support (mainly help with cleaning) that makes my life at home function.

I work as a machine operator in a small factory, and the rest of my team varies between working one shift and being split in two shifts, depending on production demands. But I’m on a set schedule with the precise hours that are good for me, which is actually a benefit to them too because when we’re on two shifts, my shift overlaps the two normal ones which means there’s more continuity.

I’ve talked to the manager that hired me, and she said “Well, we want diversity here, and I figure that means we have to accommodate diverse needs”.

It honestly changed my life. I was at a point where I could very easily have tipped into “I am never going to be able to work again”, which comes with a lot of internalised ableism (and I’m aware that this is a tricky subject). But by being treated as an asset, who they wanted enough that they were willing to make things work for me, it helped me see myself as more valuable, and as much as the bigger societal influences there sucks (I want everyone to feel valuable regardless of how much help they need), on a personal level it was just incredibly helpful.

Also, of course, having a steady job with an income I can live pretty well on and some security in life, plus pretty amazing coworkers, is really really good for me. I don’t know where’d I’d be without it.

But most of all, it feels really really good to work at a place where the company line is “if we want diversity, we’re going to have to accommodate diversity”. They’re not perfect, but I belive they genuinely mean it.

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