Building Great Teams: Second Chance Hiring & Employment

Posted by Trakstar • April 3, 2023 • 10 min read

April is known to some people as Second Chance Month – a time to start again on your New Year’s resolutions, give people another chance in your life and just be more open to trying something again. You might be surprised at what happens. For HR professionals, Second Chance Month may be a time to consider second chance employment programs.

Hiring someone and giving them a second chance can benefit your company. Second chance hiring is when you hire someone who has a criminal record. This opens up your hiring pool and helps you bring in talent you previously could not. Almost 70 million Americans struggle to find meaningful work because of criminal convictions. 

If you give your new hires a second chance, you’re not alone as a business. Some of today’s most well-known brands are doing the same thing. Starbucks, Walmart, Mike’s Killer Breads, Amazon, General Mills, Coca-Cola, Delta, Google, and more give people second chances at creating beautiful lives for themselves and their families.

What is Second Chance Hiring?

SHRM defines second chance hiring as: “Second-chance hiring is the practice of giving individuals with criminal records a fair and equal opportunity at employment.”

Second-chance employment changes lives for the person hired and their families and loved ones who wish the best for them. Historically, having a criminal history has barred people from high-paying jobs. HR professionals can change lives and minds when they offer second chance employment.

It’s no secret that people with criminal backgrounds often have difficulty finding employment. According to the Sentencing Project, nearly one in three Americans has a criminal record. This can lead to a vicious cycle – without a job, it’s harder to stay out of trouble and turn your life around.

That’s why more and more businesses are beginning to realize the benefits of second chance hiring. By giving people with criminal backgrounds a fair shot at employment, you are helping everyone.. In the United States, at least, the criminal justice system doesn’t always offer opportunities for people to improve their skills or build a plan for success after incarceration.

Second chance candidates might not even get a second look from companies or enroll in a second chance program to help them get further in the candidate lifecycle, only to end up not getting hired. These talented individuals are being turned away when they could be improving your organization.

Building the Business Case for Second Chance Programs

When hiring, employers typically want to avoid candidates with criminal backgrounds. But what if we looked at things from a different perspective? What if we gave people with criminal backgrounds a second chance?

Second chance hiring has many benefits for both employers and employees. It can help employers tap into a larger pool of qualified candidates. It can also lead to increased diversity and inclusion in the workplace. And for employees, it can allow them to turn their lives around and get back on their feet.

When done correctly, second chance hiring can be a win-win for everyone involved. Here are some of the benefits of employing people with criminal backgrounds:

It Increases the Pool of Qualified Candidates

When you exclude people with criminal records from your applicant pool, you automatically limit your potential pool of qualified candidates. According to the Department of Justice, more than 650,000 people are released from prison each year – that’s a lot of talented individuals you could be missing out on.

There’s a large number of candidates out there with untapped talent, and they are waiting for the opportunity to make a difference. If you open your job posts to people with criminal convictions, you’ll see how quickly second chance hiring works.

It Can Reduce Turnover Rates

People with criminal backgrounds who can find steady employment are less likely to re-offend than those who can’t. Studies have shown that an ex-offender who remains employed annually reduces their chances of returning to prison by 16%.

Second chance hires are going to leave companies that mistreat them. However, they are likely to participate in employee engagement initiatives. Why? These returning citizens want to stay at the place that gave them a fair chance.

It Improves Your Company’s Image

By taking a proactive stance on second chance hiring, you can help to improve your company’s image and reputation in the community. Not only will this make your business more attractive to potential customers, but it could also help with recruitment efforts by showing that you’re an employer of choice for diverse candidates.

Second chance hiring is not only beneficial for those with criminal backgrounds – it’s also good for business. By reducing barriers to employment, you can create a more productive and engaged workforce while improving your company’s public image.

You’re Changing Lives

One of the best things about giving someone a second chance is that you can help them turn their life around. When allowed to work and excel in their chosen field, many people with a criminal background will make a massive difference. A criminal background doesn’t mean that someone doesn’t have what it takes to succeed. It means they made a mistake somewhere along the road.
As a returning citizen, they are hungry to prove themselves. You can use this to turn job seekers into top performers. Enroll them in learning courses to get them up to speed on skills they may not have, pair them with a mentor who will help break down barriers, and see what second chance employees can do for you as you’re helping them.

Barriers to Second Chance Employment

As a second chance employer, you may be concerned about some of the barriers you’ll face. 

A few barriers to second chance hiring can discourage employers from considering candidates with criminal backgrounds. Some of these include:

– The perception that people with criminal backgrounds are more likely to be violent or disruptive in the workplace.

– The belief that people with criminal records are less reliable and trustworthy than other employees.

– The fear of liability if an employee with a criminal background commits a crime while on the job.

– The cost and time associated with conducting background checks on potential hires.

You may need to take some time to get to know your candidate a little more, ensure that you have a strong business case if you face pushback, and consider the type of work that person will be doing. Obviously, there are some second chance candidates that will not make sense for your organization.

How to Create a Successful Second Chance Program

When it comes to second chance programs, there are a few key things to keep in mind if you want to create a successful one:

  1. Ensure the plan fits the needs of your business first and foremost.
  2. Second, you need to have a clear and concise plan for how the program will be implemented. 
  3. Lastly, you need to ensure that you have the proper support to help participants succeed.

When designing a program that will fit your business, it’s essential to consider what type of positions you’re looking to fill and what skills are required for those positions. You should also think about what sort of support participants will need in order to be successful. For example, if you’re looking to hire entry-level employees, your program might include job training and placement assistance. If you’re looking for more experienced workers, your program might focus on providing access to resources like job coaching or financial aid. You’ll have to go case-by-case for some second chance candidates. Suppose you have a second chance program at your company, something many larger companies hire many candidates with prior convictions. In that case, you may even want to advertise this at a job fair or in the employment opportunities themselves.

Once you know what your program will look like, it’s time to start planning for implementation. This means setting timelines, identifying who will be responsible for various aspects of the program, and ensuring adequate funding is in place. It’s also important to think about how you’ll evaluate the program’s success so that you can make necessary adjustments along the way. 

Incarcerated individuals have needs many others don’t, so you’ll need to think about that. They may need access to certain documents, have a ton of clothing to wear to work, or know how to navigate the healthcare system. These are all things to think about when you give gainful employment.

Finally, no matter how well-designed your program is, it will only be successful with buy-in and support from upper management. If you are making this a long-term hiring practice, you will have to report on your metrics, identify success stories showing that second chance hiring works, and show off your talent management analytics

Resources for Employers Interested in Second Chance Programs

Several resources are available for employers interested in implementing or expanding second chance programs. The following list includes some key organizations and websites that can provide information and assistance:

The National Employment Law Project: This organization provides research, policy analysis, and advocacy on issues related to employment law and workforce development. They have published a number of resources on criminal background check policies and second-chance hiring, including a “Second Chance Employer Toolkit.”

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission: The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws prohibiting discrimination in the workplace. They have published guidance on the use of criminal background checks by employers, which includes information on when such checks may violate the law.

The Society for Human Resource Management: SHRM is the largest professional association for HR professionals. They offer a variety of resources on criminal background checks and hiring, including a template policy for conducting such checks.

Local Chamber of Commerce: Many local chambers of commerce offer programs and services specifically designed to help businesses with workforce development, including assistance with recruiting and hiring individuals with criminal backgrounds.

You may also want to check into your local governments and programs (including a second chance business coalition) that help incarcerated individuals with job applications, interview scheduling, and criminal justice reform. You can also talk to your financial and legal departments about work opportunity tax credit laws, Title VII, and more.

Thinking About Giving Someone A Second Chance? Trakstar Can Help

In conclusion, second chance hiring is a great way for businesses to diversify their teams and allow those with criminal backgrounds to contribute positively in the workplace. By offering these individuals a chance to change, employers can benefit from having additional talent that can be used effectively within their organization. Allowing people with criminal backgrounds shows trustworthiness, compassion, and respect for diversity in the workplace. Ultimately, second chance hiring benefits society and businesses as it helps reduce costs associated with recruiting new employees and increases employee retention rates.

At Trakstar, we can help you build a second chance program and help all of your employees. HR professionals, managers, employees, and stakeholders can all benefit from a talent management software. For second chance employees, in particular, our software is incredibly effective. How?

  • Use our Applicant Tracking Software to help them automatically book interviews with your hiring team. They’ll be able to book quickly and easily. Many second chance applicants will only have access to the internet if they go to their local libraries, so being able to do everything at once is helpful.
  • Once you’ve hired someone, up-level and train them using our Learning Management System. Our LMS helps you create courses employees can take from anywhere. Track their progress, enroll them automatically, and see how they’re interacting with your information.
  • To ensure that your second chance employees succeed and get the support they need, our Performance Management System can help them keep their job description and responsibilities in one place. Use our software to organize information, collect 360-reviews, push engagement surveys, and so much more.

To see the full potential of our talent management software, not just for second chance employees, but for all of your employees, click here to schedule a demo.

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