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5 Benefits of hiring someone who has been through the justice system

  • Wednesday, July 27, 2022
  • Posted By The Growth Company

For people who have recently been released from prison, being able to quickly find work is a vital step towards getting their life back on track. In fact, those who are able to secure employment are nine percentage points less likely to reoffend than individuals who remain unemployed.  

However, according to the Centre for Mental Health, only 25% of men and 20% of women leave prison to some form of employment – highlighting the huge recruitment gap between employers and ex-offenders. 

While it’s natural for hiring managers to have reservations about offering a role to someone who has been through the justice system, there are so many benefits to be had by broadening your talent pool.  

Here are just five reasons to consider making someone who is reintegrating back into society your next hire:  

Bridge skills gaps 

Many sectors are experiencing growing skills gaps. According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), there were 1.3 million job vacancies in the UK between March and May 2022 – with 33% of business owners saying they were struggling to fill vacancies.  

There are over 11 million people in the UK with a criminal record, and this is a talent pool that remains largely untapped due to the stigma surrounding the employment of people who have been in prison. 

However, it’s important for employers to remember that these individuals could be a ‘quick win’ in terms of bridging skills gaps within a business. Many inmates have access to training courses, qualifications and learning material while they are serving their sentence, so they come out job-ready (or at least with a wealth of knowledge that they can apply in the workplace).  

It’s also worth considering the soft skills that an ex-offender could bring to your business. They will be resilient, used to abiding by rules and instructions, and will be able to offer a different perspective thanks to their unique lived experience of being inside.  

Enhanced corporate social responsibility 

By promoting the fact that you’re actively hiring people who have been through the justice system, you will be enhancing your corporate social responsibility.  

Stats from GOV.UK show that 90% of organisations that have diversified their recruitment practices have boosted their reputation as an employer that champions equal opportunities for all. This can help with overall talent attraction, as well as helping businesses to win new contracts.  

By hiring those who have previously been behind bars, you will be helping to reduce re-offending – something which costs the UK economy around 18 billion pounds per year.  

Boost diversity and Inclusion 

Following on from the point above, having ex-prisoners working for your business will improve diversity and inclusion. Taking an attitude-based approach to hiring can do wonders for your organisation, and help you to access talent that you might have otherwise overlooked.  

The benefits of having a diverse and inclusive workforce have long been highlighted, but in case you needed a reminder, they include: 

  • Improved productivity
  • Better employee engagement
  • Access to a wide range of different ideas and perspectives
  • Higher levels of innovation
  • Enhanced profitability  

Improve staff retention  

When individuals are released from prison, there are few things they appreciate more than being given a chance to move forward and rebuild their lives.  

Therefore, if you’re willing to offer them a job, it’s highly likely that they will stay loyal to your organisation and develop their career with your business. This means that you will reduce staff turnover in the long run. 

Reduce recruitment costs  

The above point regarding improving your staff retention will also reduce your recruitment costs long-term, as you will have less need to backfill roles due to members of staff leaving.  

In terms of filling new vacancies, hiring an ex-offender can significantly reduce the typical costs associated with recruitment. Figures from the CIPD show that filling a non-managerial vacancy usually costs businesses around £2,000 – however, by working directly with prisons and organisations who support those who have been released, you can cut the cost of advertising roles as they can offer access to candidates on your behalf.  

What can I do as an employer to make my vacancies more accessible to ex-offenders? 

There are several things you can do to diversify your recruitment practices and make roles more accessible to people who have just come out of prison, or who are long-term unemployed and have previous criminal convictions.  

Firstly, consider joining the ‘Ban the Box’ campaign, which increases opportunities for people with convictions to compete for jobs, by banning the convictions tick-box from application forms. You can sign up to the ‘Ban the Box’ initiative here. This is something which we implemented a while ago here at GC.  

Secondly, consider implementing unconscious bias training for all hiring managers within your organisation, to help them eliminate unconscious, discriminatory perceptions and behaviours when interviewing candidates.  

You could also offer work experience, internships, apprenticeships or traineeships to people on probation. This is win-win situation, as it will give individuals an opportunity to develop meaningful skills, while you get an extra pair of hands to support your business.  

The Growth Company’s work with people who have been through the justice system 

Here at GC, we deliver a number of services and contracts across the UK designed to support people who have been released from prison to reintegrate back into society.  

This doesn’t just include help to get them into employment – it also includes holistic support with wellbeing, forming positive relationships and breaking down barriers that are preventing them from taking positive steps to turn their life away from crime.  

You can find out more about the Growth Company’s employment support services here