Effective second chance hiring programs provide job seekers with a clear pathway to meaningful employment.
By Mike Huycke
In 2018, upon her release from prison, Maiko Joslin embarked on a new journey by landing an entry-level position at Leadpoint Business Services, a workforce solutions company specializing in the waste and recycling industry. Before taking this role, Maiko developed her skills and work ethic through various work release positions, such as Peer Counselor and working in general labor roles. These experiences not only gave her a sense of purpose, but also equipped her with the skills needed for the demanding role of a recycling sorter.
While sorting recyclables might not be the most glamorous job, Maiko was genuinely appreciative of the chance to work as a full-time employee of Leadpoint. She eagerly anticipated a fresh start in the recycling industry, recognizing that it provided both stability and potential for growth.
Through relentless commitment, unwavering dedication, and invaluable mentorship from colleagues, Maiko advanced her career from a Sorter to positions including Lock-out/Tag-out, Line Lead, Operations Support Trainee, Operations Support Lead, and, ultimately, reaching her current role as Talent Acquisition Manager. In this capacity, Maiko leads Leadpoint’s recruitment team, ensuring that all sites are fully staffed on all shifts. She implements innovative programs and manages the candidate pipeline, including second chance hiring.
Second chance hiring refers to the practice of offering fair and equal employment opportunities to individuals with prior criminal records. This non-traditional hiring practice creates opportunity for both employers and job seekers alike.
Expand Talent Pool
In a highly competitive labor market, adjusting hiring standards provides a more extensive range of options for both employers and job seekers. This approach enables the exploration of a valuable new talent pool. According to the Second Chance Business Coalition, more than 80 million Americans, which accounts for a quarter of the population, have a criminal record.
Improve Employee Retention and Performance
Research demonstrates that individuals with a criminal record often exhibit loyalty, productivity, and engagement. A 2021 Society for Human Resource Management report found that 85 percent of HR professionals and 81 percent of business leaders believe that employees with criminal records performed the same or better than those without.
Improve Workforce Diversity
Second chance hiring promotes diversity in the workplace by giving individuals with prior criminal records a chance to reintegrate into society and contribute to the workforce. This diversification can bring fresh perspectives, experiences, and talents to the team.
Gain Tax Incentives
Employers can benefit from tax incentives for second chance hiring. The federal Work Opportunity Tax Credit offers a tax credit of up to 25 percent of the first year’s wages for qualified ex-felons who work at least 120 hours, and up to 40 percent for those working more than 400 hours.
Support Your Community
Unemployment places a significant burden on social services and government programs. Expanded hiring creates wage earners who contribute to the economy and society.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has recognized that offering consistent employment opportunities to individuals with prior criminal records reduces the likelihood of reoffending and contributes positively to society. Sustained employment offers stability, financial well-being, and a sense of purpose, all of which play pivotal roles in deterring further criminal activity.
When contemplating the transition to a second chance employer, it is crucial to be prepared for adjustments in your recruitment practices, training methods, and workplace culture to foster inclusivity. Consider these strategies when implementing second chance hiring.
Engage with the Community
Nurture relationships with second chance hiring organizations in your local communities. Establish partnerships from the outset and increase awareness about your presence within the community.
Empower Candidates through Skills Assessment
During the interview process, give candidates the opportunity to engage in the actual work they will be performing. This hands-on approach provides transparency and eliminates recruitment bias, ensuring a level playing field for all candidates, regardless of their backgrounds.
Invest in Training and Mentorship
After hiring second chance employees, prioritize their personal development and retention. Many of these individuals are entering the workforce for the first time. Offer experienced mentors during their initial weeks to guide them, help them acclimatize to the team, and become trusted companions at work.
Structure Roles for Individual Support
Offer roles designed to provide crucial support to individuals seeking a second chance. These positions may be characterized by full-time entry-level positions with weekly pay, comprehensive benefits, immediate starts without prior experience requirements, and thorough training.
Promote Advancement Opportunities
Offer avenues for career growth. Invest in training programs to facilitate advancement when associates demonstrate integrity and initiative in learning the industry. These opportunities not only benefit their careers, but also contribute to improved retention rates.
The Power to Change Lives
Breaking down employment barriers for individuals who want to work, but face challenges due to a prior conviction or failed background checks has the potential to transform lives, support families, and create strong communities. Effective second chance hiring programs provide job seekers with a clear pathway to meaningful employment. By taking on these initial positions, individuals can transform them into long-lasting and fulfilling careers, contributing to a robust talent pipeline that reaps significant benefits for companies and communities. Successful programs not only grant job seekers a chance at employment, but also enable companies to gain a more inclusive workforce of dedicated and hardworking employees. | WA
Setting the Stage for Success
Leadpoint faced significant challenges in maintaining their workforce, during the tumultuous year of 2020, marked by the COVID-19 pandemic. In response to these challenges, Maiko Joslin and her recruitment team embarked on a business trip to Denver, CO, where they engaged with dozens of different organizations, businesses, and programs. These interactions spanned from homeless shelters and churches to domestic violence shelters, aimed at helping individuals reintegrate into society, and even correctional facilities. The mission: to promote the availability of entry-level positions within Leadpoint. The outcome was nothing short of remarkable, with a substantial surge in advertisement views and job applications, resulting in new hires. This monumental endeavor marked the inception of Leadpoint’s Local Sourcing Program.
Under the Local Sourcing Program initiative, every Leadpoint site is encouraged to collaborate with local programs, promote available entry-level positions, and support second chance hiring efforts. Partnering with local re-entry services at the site level has been particularly advantageous because these entities possess a deep understanding of the local landscape. Sites work with parole offices, work release programs, and community groups such as The Salvation Army, Goodwill, and Volunteers of America. The objective is to establish enduring partnerships with these organizations, enabling them to maintain a consistent and accessible collaboration.
“Fair chance hiring unlocks a huge and unique pool of qualified talent. As we support our customers’ environmental sustainability efforts, it is vital to ensure the same social sustainability in those communities we serve. We do this by focusing on hiring based on experience, talent, and skill instead of criminal records,” Maiko emphasized.
The exceptional abilities and tenure of this talent pool are evident in the fact that approximately 15 percent of Leadpoint’s current workforce has prior justice system involvement. The entry-level position of Sorter also reflects longevity, with 33 percent of Leadpoint’s Sorters having been with the company for more than a year, and 6 percent for over five years. Notably, 38 percent of site managers and administrators began their careers in entry-level positions, highlighting the talent within these roles and the potential for upward mobility within the organization. Leadpoint’s commitment to second chance hiring extends beyond entry-level roles, encompassing positions across the spectrum from the frontlines to management roles at the corporate office.
Empowering Second Chances and Breaking Down Barriers to Employment
Talent Acquisition Manager
Reflecting on her personal journey, she encapsulates the transformative power of fair chance opportunities: “I was given a second chance and started my journey to a better-quality life. The mindset I had for making bad choices transformed into excelling with good choices. My job gave me a sense of purpose, and I hope to inspire others to achieve as much as I have.”
Operations Support Manager and Onsite Manager, San Luis Obispo, CA
Early in Mike’s life, he messed up, got into drugs, and was in the county jail more than once. He was down to his last $300 when he found work as a sorter. He joined Leadpoint as an Onsite Manager in 2019. Mike is passionate about hiring individuals who have come from a rough background, providing them with the same kind of second chances he received. “They are my best workers,” he said. “We have a smooth-running site. It’s hassle-free, and that goes back to the people. I don’t look down on anybody,” he continued, “and make sure everyone enjoys coming to work.”
“Sorting is not easy; it requires rhythm and dedication. Leadpoint recognizes that seizing this opportunity can lead to a fulfilling career. Many of our second chance employees, often new to the workforce, prove to be some of our most dedicated and committed employees. We do not discourage anyone from applying, recognizing potential in every candidate. Whether dealing with staffing challenges or launching new site operations, Leadpoint consistently prioritizes second chance hiring as a key strategy that strengthens our workforce.”
Mike Huycke is Vice President of Business Development for Leadpoint. Since 2000, Leadpoint has been an operating partner with recycling facilities nationwide. Their high-performance work team model and deep industry expertise helps corporate, municipal, and private recycling facilities optimize their operations and improve safety, productivity, and profitability. Based in Phoenix, AZ, Leadpoint partners with more than 50 sites nationwide, driving performance improvement and operating excellence through its data-driven, hands-on approach. For more information, visit www.leadpointusa.com.