Having something meaningful to do is essential for people trying to build better lives for themselves and their families. We encourage and support organisations to actively work alongside individuals with barriers to work to realise the business and societal benefits of a diverse workforce.
We work with employers to tap in to and unlock capacity in individuals who have struggled to get in to work – which is good for businesses. A 2013 report by Deloitte found that when employees “think their organisation is committed to and supportive of diversity, and they feel included,” their ability to innovate increases by 83 per cent.
We’ve created the Good Employer Guide to encourage organisations to actively work alongside individuals with barriers to work. The guide sets out practical ways to promote inclusive recruitment processes and provides tips for supporting new employees into sustained employment.
We also created the guide to support the 46,644 individuals we supported last year – students with social and emotional challenges who hit a brick wall when applying for jobs, young people who have left the care system without networks to rely on when looking for employment, and individuals who have left the justice system feeling like their life chances have been restricted because of their past.
We hope you use the information in the guide to provide a sustainable career and welcoming workplace.
Catch22 is a charity and social business, working at every stage of the social welfare cycle. Our 1,800 colleagues and volunteers support over 45,000 individuals from cradle to career.
We design and deliver social welfare services across children’s social care, deliver education and training, get people into work through apprenticeships and employment programmes, build stronger communities through social action, and deliver social justice and rehabilitation services.
We take any surplus and the learning from our delivery, and funnel that into public service reform – investing in new structures and programmes that do things differently.
At Catch22, we work with individuals at every stage of the social welfare cycle to build aspiration in people and communities.
We realise the importance of a diverse workforce and understand that having something meaningful to do is essential for people trying to build better lives for themselves and their families. This can help individuals to understand their own potential and open the door to real opportunity.
At Catch22, we believe that everyone should have the same opportunities and access to work, regardless of their background. We see the benefit that it can deliver to both individuals, organisations and society.
Our approach is based on the ‘3Ps’; in order to thrive, people need good people around them, a purpose in life and a good place to live. Being employed is a key part to making this a reality.
We hope to encourage employers to make their recruitment processes as fair and open as possible to realise the benefits of a diverse workforce.
Why should responsible employment matter to you?
People may be out of work for a variety of reasons – and tapping into their experience and honing their skills can result in real benefits for both employee and employer.
Whether it’s recruiting new talent or making an experienced hire, we develop committed employees who help strengthen businesses – while also playing our part in building strong communities.
Bringing people in from all different backgrounds and situations facilitates fresh ideas and solutions, and presents a whole variety of business and societal benefits to an organisation.
Investing in individuals who have had barriers to work can strengthen your workforce by developing your long-term talent pipeline. Through access schemes and training, you can bring on fresh talent and support them, resulting in teams of highly-skilled, loyal individuals.
It’s good for your business, good for your people, and good for your community.
How can you ensure a fair recruitment process?
Recruitment processes can often exclude those with barriers to work, both consciously and unconsciously. Adopting open recruitment techniques can remove prejudice and unfair practices, allowing your organisation to access a wider pool of talent.
Catch22 can help you to design a more inclusive recruitment and selection process. Over 2018/19 we supported Over 680 people into lasting employment and 700 learners into apprenticeships. 90% who completed an apprenticeship progressed into a job, apprenticeship or further education. Our experience gives us real insight into the issues that individuals encounter when applying for, and sustaining, a job.
Our top tips for inclusive recruitment and selection processes
Minimum job role requirements
Some roles require a minimum education or experience, which can often discourage candidates from even applying. Consider reviewing your minimum educational standards. Why have you put them in place? Are you reducing the talent pool for your recruitment?
Clear job titles and job adverts
Commonly used job titles and language allows candidates to clearly understand what the job entails and promotes the benefits of working for an organisation. Whilst the language needs to make the role sound exciting, always use plain English, remove any jargon, and if you need to use any acronyms, always explain what they mean. If possible, ask those who have experienced barriers to work to proof read or draft the job advert.
Did you know that 11 million people in the UK have a criminal conviction? By barring anyone with a criminal record from working for you, you might be missing out on a huge pool of talent.
There is no legal obligation to ask a candidate to declare a criminal record, unless you’re recruiting for a role which requires it. Indeed, there are only a small number of jobs (primarily within financial services, the secure estate, or working with vulnerable children and adults) that require a disclosure and barring service (DBS) check. You would be acting unlawfully if you were to carry out checks at a level inappropriate to the role and potentially missing out on talent for your recruitment pool.
If you do need to conduct checks, make your policy on disclosure really clear, with links to guidance, so that candidates are supported in knowing what they need to disclose. Many top employers, such as the Civil Service, Boots and Accenture, have signed up to the Ban the Box campaign, which means they only ask for information on relevant convictions at shortlisting. For more guidance, the charity Unlock are the experts.
We all have some unconscious bias, and this can disproportionately affect people with barriers to work. Take simple steps to mitigate this, such as removing names from CVs during review, or reviewing your interview process.
Candidates with barriers to work can sometimes encounter practical barriers, such as not having a bank account or ID. If you do need to conduct checks, make your policy on disclosure really clear, with links to guidance, so that candidates are supported in knowing what they need to disclose.
Including details of how you plan to support an individual through their career, and not just on the job, will attract a wider pool of talent. Everyone wants to feel valued, so help a candidate understand what some of the benefits may be and how this role will help them on the track to a career.
Provide a contact number of the hiring manager
Offer a telephone number for candidates to speak to the hiring manager during the application stage. This gives candidates the opportunity to ask any questions about the role and understand more about your organisation. It also provides a contact to discuss possible adjustments to the process for those with complex barriers to work or disabilities.
Offering informal or group interviews
Informal or group interviews can allow individuals to express themselves more freely and not feel the pressure that comes with a standard interview. Whilst this may not be appropriate for all situations, we encourage you to think of creative methods which can enable candidates to be assessed.
Strength based questions
Asking strength based questions allows a candidate to showcase what they enjoy doing, rather than their current skillset. This is particularly useful for candidates who may have limited work experience.
Prior meeting with Catch22 representative
Try video call interviews or offer travel reimbursement. Many people with barriers to work will find the cost of travel prevents them from coming to interview. Video interviews can be great for early stage interviews, and are sometimes much better for people with mental health challenges. Consider offering travel reimbursement for face-to-face interviews.
Involving those who have experienced barriers to work in the interview process
Involving others who have experienced barriers to work in the interview process can provide very valuable insights into applicants’ motivation and ability to relate. For instance, care leavers being interviewed by peers can feel more comfortable than the formal interviewing process.
Interviews are nerve-wracking for anyone, but can be even more so if you’ve been out of work or have mental health challenges. It’s best to be really clear with the process, what is expected at each stage of interview and offer support and a chance to ask questions along the way.
“Adopting open recruitment techniques can remove prejudice and unfair practices, allowing your organisation to access a wider pool of talent.”
How you can support a new employee
Prior to an employee’s start date, offer an introductory day or visit to enable the applicant to see the working environment, learn about introductory information, try out their journey, and meet their line manager. This will help reduce first day anxiety. Other ways to support a new employee, include:
Build a relationship
Make time to get to know your employee. Get to know the individual and their needs and build trust. Offer a workplace buddy to help them settle in, show them the ropes and ask questions.
Good line management
Entering a new workplace can be a big deal for anyone, but it can be especially daunting for someone who has faced challenges getting in to work.
In order to help an individual realise their potential and succeed in a role, it is essential to have good line management. This will provide the necessary structure for setting direction and helps to identify any areas for development and progression. Make sure the line manager also has support and can ask questions about how best to support their new recruit.
A good line manager:
- organises regular one-to-ones,
- sets measurable objectives to monitor performance,
- offers pastoral support,
- provides career mentoring,
- is patient and appreciative of a candidate’s overall journey.
Consideration of needs
A diverse workforce has diverse needs. Individuals who have experienced barriers to work may need more support whilst in a role.
This support could include building an action plan to help overcome any barriers to work, putting in place key milestones like learning goals, soft skills, confidence and mind-set training, or providing ongoing in-work support and pathways to achieve a higher level of training. It could also include practical support for those with physical disabilities, such as accessible access and equipment.
Offering practical advice
Individuals may have practical barriers to getting in to work, such as not having a bank account or I.D. Be sensitive to these needs, and that individuals might not want to volunteer this information. Help them creatively problem solve these challenges.
Work placement assessments
Individuals may experience multiple barriers to work or disabilities, meaning that workplace adjustments may need to occur. Work place assessments should be available to assess the need for additional aids and adaptations.
Clear expectation and boundary setting
Starting a new job can often be a daunting experience, full of unknowns. Clearly setting out the expectations and boundaries at the start can remove some of these unknowns and help individuals to better understand the role. Setting clear goals with outputs can also help to motivate an individual and provide a structure to the role to measure their progress. Give employees a second chance if things go wrong.
There are many cultural norms within a business that new employees may find overwhelming to navigate, explicitly talking through these with new employees is always appreciated so that they feel they will fit in. This may be as simple as how to use the coffee machine, where to buy lunch, right through to dress standards or use of personal mobile phones.
Establishing a supportive network in a new workplace can often be a challenge. Peer mentoring can be hugely beneficial for discussing shared experiences and encouraging the development of confidence and self-esteem.
Offering career guidance
Individuals who have faced barriers to work may have a limited experience of the workforce. This can lead to uncertainty about possible career pathways or longer term career goals. Connecting individuals with careers advice and surrounding networks, both inside and outside the organisation or in partner organisations, can open further opportunities.
Create opportunities for empathy
Your new recruit may struggle to adjust to an environment where they have to be at work at the same time every day, dress a certain way and use the jargon of their new industry. Make time to get to know them, and find ways to bridge this understanding, as they adjust.
- Keep talking – Effective communication is essential for understanding the needs of an individual, but also for understanding your business needs.
- Tailor your approach – One size never fits all. Everyone is different and will have different needs or require different support.
- Know your support networks – Understand the support networks that are available to you
- Maintain a flexible approach – Be clear about what you want but keep an open mind. Things may not always go as planned so being adaptable is key.
- Be patient – Appreciate an individual’s journey in terms of their personal and social development.