In the US, one in three individuals has a criminal background - resulting in more than 80 million individuals experiencing barriers to employment. Second-chance hiring, also known as fair chance hiring, involves the intentional recruitment of these individuals with prior criminal records. Recognizing the immense potential in this practice, an increasing number of businesses are opting to hire from this talent pool, with 39% of companies open to adopting a second-chance hiring policy. Consider industries like retail, hospitality, and customer service, which currently grapple with significant hiring challenges. When facing this obstacle, up to 68% of businesses in these sectors are willing to explore hiring individuals with a criminal background. This forward-thinking and innovative approach not only presents an opportunity to diversify your workforce but also offers a strategic solution to the pressing hiring challenges faced by these industries.
Businesses can play a crucial role in shaping a more inclusive and compassionate society by breaking down these employment barriers, fostering a supportive work environment, and actively participating in community-building efforts. Second-chance hiring in retail, hospitality, and customer service jobs is a win-win strategy that benefits employers and individuals seeking a fresh start. Businesses can reduce turnover rates and fulfill their hiring needs by hiring from this largely untapped workforce of capable, motivated individuals.
The Challenges of Second-Chance Hiring
Let’s face it - businesses run background checks for a reason. They strive to hire individuals who will not jeopardize their business, other employees, customers, etc. The majority of enterprises are simply not willing to take the risk on someone with a criminal background. However, the data might tell us a different story about working with individuals with a criminal background. Research completed by the Second Chance Business Coalition found that 85% of HR professionals say that individuals with criminal records perform the same as or better than employees without criminal records, and 81% of business leaders agree. The same study assessed fellow employees’ and customers’ thoughts about working with second-chance hires. More than 80% of customers say that they would be comfortable patronizing businesses that hire second-chance employees. Research even suggests that when a business is willing to take a chance on an employee with a criminal background, they remain loyal to these companies for significantly longer, reducing turnover rates.
The critical factor in implementing second-chance hiring is reframing the narrative around hiring. Instead of focusing on the background of individuals with a criminal record, it is essential to recognize the potential for growth and contribution that these individuals possess. By shifting the focus from past mistakes to present skills, talents, and determination, we open the door to a pool of untapped potential in the workforce. Embracing the idea that everyone deserves a second chance promotes fairness and equality and addresses the underlying societal issues that contribute to criminal behavior. Companies that actively engage in this reframing process not only benefit from diverse perspectives and experiences but also play a pivotal role in breaking down barriers and challenging stereotypes.
The Benefits of Second-Chance Hiring
Second-chance hiring provides a platform for breaking down stigmas and highlighting the personal and professional growth of individuals seeking to rebuild their lives. By focusing on skills, commitment, and potential, employers can discover hidden talents that may have been overshadowed by their past. Verizon CEO speaks from experience, having implemented second-chance hiring practices since 2015. "All our data tells us that many of these employees are extremely loyal, thankful for the company giving them a second chance, and do great work," he said. "You want [workers who are] loyal, lead your brand every day [and] lead your core values every day. That's how you make money, succeed, and profit." By tapping into this diverse and motivated workforce, recruiting challenges can become a thing of the past. Embracing the potential for growth and transformation, second-chance hiring is not just a recruitment strategy; it's a pathway toward building stronger communities and businesses.
Resources to Begin Second-Chance Hiring
If you are seeking to foster inclusivity by hiring individuals with a criminal background, there is a wealth of resources resources designed to help. Organizations such as the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and Jails to Jobs offer guidelines and toolkits to aid employers in navigating the complexities of second-chance hiring. Stand Together, an organization focused on solving some of our country's most significant challenges, provides case studies and partnerships. The Second Chance Business Coalition offers comprehensive data, business assessments, first-hand perspectives, and much more to kick off your second-chance hiring process.
Additionally, the U.S. Department of Labor provides targeted resources, including tax incentives like the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC), which can serve as a financial incentive for hiring individuals with barriers to employment. By leveraging these resources, employers not only contribute to the rehabilitation and reintegration of individuals but also stand to benefit from a more diverse, dedicated, and resilient workforce.
The data around second-chance hiring reveals a compelling narrative: tapping into a strong workforce, decreasing turnover, reducing recidivism, and the extraordinary societal impact of providing individuals with a pathway to redemption through meaningful work. As businesses increasingly recognize the potential for talent and resilience in those seeking a second chance, the shift towards inclusive hiring practices becomes not just a moral imperative but a strategic investment in building stronger, more resilient communities.
To learn more about second chance hiring and how to implement it in your enterprise, take a look at some of the resources available below.
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