A week ago, the Wall Street Journal announced that the number of U.S. job openings (6.7 million) outnumbered the number of unemployed workers (6.3 million) this past spring.
While this is great news for jobseekers, it’s made finding workers even harder.
To find qualified candidates, employers have begun tapping into nontraditional labor pools to fill their hiring needs.
In a recent Area Development article about this topic, Dan Emerson gives examples of how employers have found success by hiring people with disabilities and people with criminal records.
Here is a summary of what he found.
Benefits of Hiring Employees with Criminal Backgrounds
One of the employers Emerson highlights in his article is Larry Keast, founder of the Houston, Texas-based Venturetech.
Since 2001, Keast and his team have actively recruited and employed ex-offenders and people recovering from drug and alcohol addictions.
This has been a positive and successful strategy for Keast’s whole company.
As Venturetech notes on their website: “He [Keast] found that all of his employees, including those without such issues, started getting along better and taking an interest in each other. This proved to be good for the overall morale of Venturetech.”
Keast explains this further in a direct quote in Emerson’s article: “It’s always hard to find good people. We have hired good people when they came out of prison, and they are generally very grateful to have a job. They have a tremendous attitude, and it rubs off on all of us.”
But Venturetech is one of many companies who’s found success in hiring employees from this nontraditional labor pool. As a result, many states have implemented anti-recidivism programs to help people with criminal backgrounds to find and maintain employment.
To prevent prejudice against workers with criminal backgrounds, 31 states have also adopted the “ban the box” initiative which removes any questions about criminal backgrounds from employment applications.
Consequently, applicants are given a fair chance to be evaluated based on their skills and qualifications without being discriminated against because of their criminal convictions.
Benefits of Hiring Employees with Disabilities
Other employers are hiring employees with disabilities and have found similar success.
Emerson specifically points to Walgreens as a great example. In 2007, Walgreens implemented a disability inclusion strategy. “This strategy has resulted in increased loyalty (both employee and customer), lower employee turnover, better attendance, and improved psychological safety and corporate reputation,” he writes.
And Walgreens is just one of many employers reporting similar results.
Per a study by the Institute of Corporate Productivity, 3 out of 4 of the employers surveyed reported that employees with disabilities have a high degree of work quality in terms of motivation, dependability, attendance, and engagement.
Other employers have also benefited from improved job morale, a boost in corporate culture, increased productivity, and reduced employee turnover from hiring employees with disabilities.
For more information about hiring people with disabilities and how to create a disability-inclusive workplace, check out the following resources:
- U.S. Office of Disability Employment Policy – the only non-regulatory federal agency that promotes policies and coordinates with employers and all levels of government to increase workplace success for people with disabilities
- Employee Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion (EARN) – a free resource that helps employers tap the benefits of disability diversity
- EARN Training Center – gateway to free training on latest disability inclusion topics