How to hire employees with criminal records

Effectively hiring employees with criminal records

One of the biggest issues facing the United States is the number of people who have criminal records. According to Fast Company, as many as one in three adults in America has a criminal record, with roughly 10,000 to 12,000 new names being added to a criminal database every day. This significant amount of our population now finds themselves passed over for jobs and volunteer opportunities as a result of a charge that may have happened decades ago or even dropped. But with the rise of the alternative and gig-economy workforce, criminal records can no longer be a sole deterrent to not hire someone.

Though, rightfully so, companies put the protection and safety of their current employees at the forefront of their business, the fact is that many individuals who have felony convictions aren’t dangerous or have paid their time and are ready to make a living. And without a job, they are more likely to become repeat offenders.

So how can your organization effectively hire someone with a criminal record?

Grow the talent on your teams while improving the community.

Companies that overlook this group of the population are missing out on employees who have great potential to transform their current perspectives and increase profit. Hiring an employee with a criminal record goes beyond the immediate benefits of hiring someone without a record can bring. By providing opportunities to qualified candidates, it helps your local community by taking stress off the already limited resources many cities have today.

In 2018, a study from Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) found that 82% of managers and 67% of HR professionals feel that “quality of fair chance talent” is higher than that of workers without records.

Many employers assume that a new hire who has spent time behind bars will require extensive training to acquire common workplace skills. According to data from the Department of Justice, however, over one-third of incarcerated citizens have at least a high school diploma. Not only that, but in order to meet parole requirement, most individuals are regularly drug-tested, closely supervised, and have to observe certain curfews. These candidates may demonstrate more reliability and accountability than similarly skilled peers in the general population.

Review your hiring policies and don’t let risk management concerns stand in your way.

Many organizations may be, understandably, concerned about the potential liability associated with hiring people with criminal histories. Before you hire someone with a criminal record, be sure to review how your teams are currently hiring and what processes may be put in place to ensure everyone remains safe.

If you are using an applicant tracking system that ranks or sorts applicants based on predetermined criteria, you may be unintentionally eliminating those with a criminal background. Ensure your system isn’t flagging those with a criminal record or allow applicants to be able to determine if they deem the record a hazard to their workplace.

Is there a certain type of record you cannot hire due to the nature of your business? For example, if this position works closely with children or handles private data. Just as you would filter through your applicant tracking system, you should do the same for your background checks. Not only should you conduct thorough background checks on incoming full-time employees, but instant screenings on part-time and volunteer workers is just as important to see what their record holds and where they may or may not fit in your organization.

The benefits of hiring employees with criminal records

The benefits far outweigh the challenges of hiring employees with criminal records, and at the end of the day, the companies that build their businesses around inclusive practices and get everyone on board will have employees they can count on and a culture that embraces truly diverse candidates.

To read more on how to create a safer workplace atmosphere, check out out blog post on closing the gap between cyber and physical security.