Hiring fair chance talent isn’t just good for your company—it’s good for society. According to a recent Northwestern University study, individuals with criminal records have a much longer tenure and are less likely to quit their jobs voluntarily than other workers. What’s more, a separate study found that employment helps formerly incarcerated people gain economic stability after release and reduces the likelihood that they return to prison.
If you’re an employer who realizes the value of fair chance hiring and has implemented your own fair chance talent program, you’ve made big strides toward employment equality. Yet, recruiting and hiring system-impacted individuals is one step on a longer path. The other crucial element is committing to professional growth and development.
It also means that fair chance talent have the freedom to choose whether or not they disclose their record. These employees may want to share their story, or they may choose to keep their personal history private. Either way, it’s their choice, so make it clear on day one (or before) that they shouldn’t feel any pressure to reveal any part of their personal life.
Organized and consistent onboarding practices are important for all employees, regardless of their history. In fact, when a company has great onboarding, 69 percent of employees are likely to stay for at least three years.
This is especially true for new employees who are formerly incarcerated. It’s likely that fair chance talent may have been out of the traditional workforce for several years, so not only will they need proper training on the tasks for their specific job, they’ll also need guidance with integrating into company culture. This may require additional training throughout the first few weeks or months on the job, so provide appropriate time to successfully ramp up.
After onboarding ends, fair chance employees may still need continued support as they navigate their new role. That’s why it’s smart to set up regular check-ins with HR or their manager where they can ask questions, share any concerns or just have a chance to speak openly about their experiences in the workforce.
To that end, it could also be helpful to connect them with a trusted, well-established employee to serve as a mentor and help them navigate the ins-and-outs of the organization.
As a side note, not only do mentoring opportunities provide a chance for employees to get better acclimated with the workplace, it can also have a positive effect on organizational diversity. Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations found that mentoring programs dramatically improved promotion and retention rates for minorities and women—15 percent to 38 percent as compared to non-mentored employees.
If you’re new to hiring fair chance employees, you may need to set up specific HR policies to adapt to unique needs, similar to accommodations made for employees with disabilities or workers requiring maternity/paternity leave.
For instance, if your employee was recently released from prison, you’ll need to adjust your policies to allow them time off for parole or probation. Potential conviction history responsive accommodations for your talent could include:
- The need to have a shift schedule, or agreed upon hours, that allow for employees to attend mandatory classes
- Cooperation from their manager to have conversations or check-ins with the employee’s parole or probation officer to confirm employment status
These special accommodations could be a source of anxiety for your fair chance employees, so make sure to offer ample support and keep the lines of communication open. Doing so will ensure they feel safe and supported as they navigate their responsibilities.
5. Empower your existing workforce
The U.S. workforce has made progress when it comes to workplace equality and eliminating bias, but there is still a lot left to be done. And that work can start within your own organization. Educate employees on the importance of hiring fair chance talent, as well as the unique perspectives and skills they bring to the organization that can help further the company’s success.
You should also be ready to answer sensitive questions employees may have. By being transparent about your process for vetting talent (such as your individualized assessment process), you’ll put their minds at ease and clear up any concerns.
Turning fair chance candidates into loyal employees
By putting the right policies in place, and providing the right amount of support, safety and privacy, you can not only ensure that fair chance talent gets the opportunity to work, but also to build a rewarding career.
Check out How to be a Fair Chance Employer for more advice on hiring and retaining fair chance talent.