Hiring the Best Employee May be Against Company Policy

For human resources professionals, it pays you back many times over to find the best employees for your company’s open positions. Hiring is an expensive process in and of itself. Then there’s training, job acclimation, and culture adoption. That is all worth it if your employee is dependable, learns the job, gets along with others on the team, is happy with the wage, and stays with the company. But it can also be very frustrating when these things fail. 

Sometimes you feel like you’ll never find the right people to fill certain positions. They don’t work out time and time again, and you’re back to square one. 

Perhaps you’ve been looking for employees in the wrong places. Perhaps the right employees for your openings are out there, you just can’t find them because you use the same or similar methods to find them. And perhaps you use those methods because your company policy prevents you from looking in other directions.

A Large Untapped Resource

There is a large, untapped resource where you can find employees. Some of them may be perfect for your openings. These employees will help you smile in the morning, meet your business’s output and quality goals, and make your own job much more pleasant. Unfortunately, in many cases, your own corporate policy may actually prevent you from hiring people from this pool!

These particular employees are former felons. And before you say “Oh no!” please at least read on. 

What Former Felons Bring to Their Jobs

Here are some attributes of the former felons available for work:

  • They’re hungry to get back to work. . . and eager to find a job.
  • Most are looking to change their lives. They’ve learned their lesson and are ready to prove they can be a success story.
  • They’ve learned regimen, structure, routine, and hard work while being in prison or jail. These habits usually spill over to help them in the workplace by being on time for work, being willing to do whatever it takes, and working as a team.
  • They aren’t looking for the highest pay rate. They understand they’ve been out of the workforce and that they’ll need to work their way up again.
  • Most have learned new skills, taken classes, or picked up a trade while incarcerated.
  • They improve your company’s retention rates. . . . They are intensely loyal and stay in jobs longer because they know their options are limited. 

What these attributes mean on the job also mean a lot to your company’s bottom line. 

On top of all of this, there are even more benefits to becoming a felon-friendly employer:

  • You may qualify for tax credits after you permanently hire a former felon.
  • You’re impacting the community in a positive way—building up the city around you by hiring former felons and helping them stay away from their former behavior.

According to one HR professional:

“There is an untouched wealth of talent and skills in hiring individuals with felony records. Their experiences in navigating many different life situations, when channeled in a positive direction, can have a profound impact on a company’s culture, output, and quality. Giving people a second chance—something we all are in need of—is one of the most gratifying feelings when you see them become whole, fulfilled, and eventually able to give back to others.” 

Andy Ribbens, Premier Finishing, Inc.

Minimize Risk with Selection and Vetting

When hiring former felons, the job of selection and vetting is even more important. The right employment agency could be a good source to send the best employee for your opening, whether that person is from their former felon pool or not. Often there’s a great job fit in the former felon pool. Thorough pre-selection and vetting, as well as temp-to-hire, it minimizes your risk. 

Screening applicants for drugs and alcohol prior to employment can also help minimize risk. Be particularly careful to ensure your company’s policy is fair and equal to all applicants, not just former felons, when creating this type of requirement. Both federal and state laws can govern drug and alcohol screening methods, as well as the types of companies where they are required. This makes it critical to be mindful of this rapidly evolving area and stay in compliance.

Another way to minimize risk when hiring former felons is to find out what type of supervision the candidate is currently on outside the workplace. You can often find a more reliable employee if the individual needs to maintain employment for legal purposes and/or is required to continuously check in with their parole agent.

Unfortunately, if your company policy requires a 7-year waiting period before hiring a former felon, it removes many candidates. If the need for employees is very high, management might consider updating their felon policy and require a waiting period of less than 7 years. Other updates to the policy could allow considerations depending on the offense, previous job experience, or programs the candidate has completed that demonstrate high potential.

Give ‘em a Chance – Become a Felon-Friendly Employer

Ex-prisoners face staggering unemployment rates. It often is not because they are not looking for work or don’t want to work. It’s the hiring practices that often keep them from finding the very employment they need to keep them on the right path.

Small businesses are responsible for almost half of the American workforce. Your influence on this issue is tremendous. Only you can fix this: Update your policies, obtain great employees from a different pool, and positively impact the community.

  • Amber Schneider

    Amber Schneider has a broad background and significant experience in HR and staffing. Her position as HR Generalist at Formrite, a Division of G3 Industries, keeps her in the forefront of HR management, issues, and trends.

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