Hiring Formerly Incarcerated Individuals Can Help Solve Staffing Shortages

With over 530,000 jobs added in October this year, job openings are outnumbering applicants, resulting in employers easing up on job requirements, bypassing background checks and hiring justice-involved individuals to get more candidates in the door. Since nearly 70 million Americans have criminal records, this move has the potential to dramatically expand the talent pool at a time when labor needs are at an all-time high.

Once overlooked by the labor market, individuals convicted of felonies are now viable candidates as employers struggle to find workers. However, according to a Harvard University study, individuals with criminal records are frequently discriminated against in the hiring process: They are 50% less likely to be called back for an interview, and 75% of justice-involved individuals remain unemployed one year after release.

With no end in sight for the labor shortage, now is the time for employers to consider hiring applicants with a conviction by implementing fair-chance hiring. Not only can employers reap the rewards of a wider talent pool, they will be taking positive steps forward to eliminate the stigmas keeping these motivated individuals from reentering the workforce and making good on organizational commitments to increase diversity and inclusion.

The most common reason employers eliminate candidates with a criminal background from the hiring process is the fear that past behavior could be an indicator of future problems or that they will negatively impact overall employee performance. This is often far from the case, however, as 66% of managers at companies that have hired these individuals rated the quality of their work as comparable to those without criminal records, and 82% think that the value they bring to the organization is as high as or higher than that of workers without records.

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For employers who remain concerned about the liability to their current workforce, implementing fair-chance hiring practices alongside a continuous monitoring solution can bring these employers peace of mind. Unlike a pre-hire background check that screens justice-involved individuals out of the process from the beginning, continuous monitoring allows employers to keep track of any problems that arise among workers during their employment (for employees both with and without a record) and provides timely alerts of any incidents to allow for improved communication and more effective intervention.

There are significant benefits for companies that hire individuals with prior convictions, such as a higher employee retention rate and increased earnings. At the same time, employers that implement fair chance hiring practices are contributing to higher tax revenues as a result of employment and helping to reduce the rate of recidivism among justice-involved individuals.

Fair chance hiring is giving individuals with a record the opportunity to reenter the workforce with a clean slate, and employers in need of workers should consider the implementation of these practices to combat the labor shortage. This is the first and best step to help employers make the hiring process more inclusive. With the added protection of continuous monitoring, they can do so without fear of repercussions and enjoy the benefits of an expanded and motivated workforce.

Brian Matthews

Brian Matthews
Brian Matthews is SVP & General Manager at Appriss Insights, an Equifax Company.

Brian Matthews

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