What is a second-chance hire? For a longtime, companies have been concerned about hiring individuals with criminal backgrounds, but research shows the experience for both employers and employees is overall positive. Eighty-one percent of business leaders indicate that hires with a criminal record perform at the same levels or better than employees who don’t. But, for employers interested in creating a second-chance hiring program, what’s the most important thing to know when getting started? Let’s take a closer look at the circumstances, procedures and long-term goals.

Business Benefits for Second-Chance Hiring

In 2019, the federal government passed a “Ban the Box” law regarding federal employees or private companies contracting for federal projects. The idea was to eliminate the requirement of indicating a previous criminal background before a contingent offer is made. This allows all candidates a more equitable chance of receiving a job consideration. According to the Second Chance Business Coalition, over a quarter of the entire U.S. population has a criminal record. Their studies show that second chance employees are loyal and productive. And because of the disproportionate conviction of people of color, diversity, inclusion and equity goals can be improved by implementing a second-chance hiring program. Hiring solid, hardworking employees is a positive benefit of programs like this, but there are financial benefits as well. The Work Opportunity Tax Credit is up to 25% of their first year’s wages if certain employment conditions are met.

Provide Structure and Support for Employees

And the benefits are there for the employee as well. Without work, individuals with a criminal record are more likely to return to criminal behavior or need public assistance. Providing structure and support for employees on the job is critical for success.

Make it a Part of Your Company Culture

The concept must be part of your corporate culture to create and run a second-chance hiring program effectively. You want to ensure that everyone in your organization has the same shared values, including creating a safe work environment for second-chance employees and your entire team.

Provide Upskilling and Reskilling

Training employees in new skills or technologies is the cornerstone of growth and development. Upskilling employees to take their current skills to the next level helps you identify future leaders. Reskilling allows your company to take advantage of new technological advancements by enabling employees with the aptitude to learn new skills.

Create a Mentorship Program

You can also make it easier to integrate the new team members with your current employees by connecting with a mentor. Your company mentors can teach the new employees the ropes of the corporate culture, department, and job and give them a support system and resource for information.

Be Transparent but Discrete

When implementing a second-chance hiring program, it’s critical to be transparent about the process and understand that discretion is essential. Not broadcasting confidential information about your new employees’ backgrounds will go a long way to building trust in the workplace.

Reduce Background Check Requirements

The major obstacle in second-chance hiring programs is criminal background checks. While companies certainly want and have every right to protect their business interests, some background check requirements can impact unconscious bias in the hiring process. To ensure that your practices reflect your business needs, keep these tips in mind.

Tailor Requirements for Job-Based Needs

When background checks are required, make sure they match the specific job needs. The same background check across the board isn’t helpful or necessary. Not all background checks are equal, and how you approach the process will be as important as using the results.

Work With a Professional Screening Company

Always work with a professional background checking company to ensure that each source of information is consistent and compliant. Your background checking company will partner in this process and walk you through the experience and the results.

Maintain a Consistent Policy

It’s also imperative that you maintain a consistent policy. For example, you can’t target one demographic with background checks while not performing them on others. Always check the legal ramifications of your policies when making decisions.

Partner With Organizations

The good news is that your company doesn’t have to navigate the process independently. Working with an organization such as the Second-Chance Hiring Coalition can give you the tools you need to create a fair and balanced policy that helps your company and new employees succeed. Their website has a complete toolbox and case studies to help you develop a program that will work for you. This includes a way to incorporate community buy-in, a toolkit from SHRM to get started, and an employer self-assessment tool. Participating companies like Dave’s Breaddemonstrate good examples and ideas to build on as you expand a program designed for your specific organization.

Conclusion: The Case for Second-Chance Hiring

Considering second-chance hires for your organization can help you find new talent, increase diversity, equity, and inclusion in your workplace, and give you a chance to give back to your community. With so much concern about The Great Resignation, tapping into a pool of talent eager to have another chance benefits everyone.