Hiring & Recruiting

Should You Hire Homeless Workers? (Part 2)

Continued from yesterday’s post, here are a few more best practices to follow when hiring homeless workers.


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Focus on Social Impact First  

While it is completely fine to want to generate profits (after all, that is the reason you’re in business), don’t consider business models that will exploit homeless workers simply so that your organization can generate profits. For instance, don’t underpay them, give them unreasonable schedules, etc., just because you feel they should be willing to accept such conditions. This will only leave your new hires feeling more discouraged, resentful, and disrespected. And if they feel this way, they won’t want to continue working for your organization, invest their energy in making your organization more profitable, or promote your organization in a positive way to others.

First focus on how your organization can create jobs for the homeless population in general and how it can have a sincere social impact for the homeless. And then determine how your new workers can help you generate more revenue once they’re hired and have been able to fully experience the positive impact of their employment. Bottom line: If you treat employees right, they’re much more likely to stick around to help your organization succeed, too, whether they’re homeless or not.

Develop Internship and On-the-Job Training Programs

Don’t only offer swing shifts and late-night shifts to homeless workers or only opportunities that other workers are less likely to take. Offer them sincere opportunities to learn and grow with your organization. Develop paid internship and apprenticeship programs that allow them to gain valuable skills while they’re earning an income.

If you invest in your workforce, they will remain more loyal to your organization and its success long term, and they’ll be more productive and engaged at work. And they’ll have the skills and experience that are needed for your particular organization to succeed, too.

Offer Appropriate Incentives

When hiring homeless workers, think about benefits and incentives that will matter to them, such as transportation stipends and access to discounted or free food. If you own a restaurant, you could offer one small meal per day for free. If your office is located far away from your local homeless shelter, offer a small travel stipend for bus or rail fares. And if your homeless workers have children, consider offering a small clothing stipend.

Don’t Be Afraid to Assign Real Responsibilities

Most homeless individuals are not homeless for multiple years and are simply looking for and relying on the opportunities like the one you’re hiring them for to get them back on their feet financially. They yearn to feel like respected members of society and want to continue to accomplish their career goals. Don’t be afraid of assigning them real responsibilities, as they will most likely be eager to jump right in and work hard. Just because they don’t have a traditional home or living arrangement doesn’t mean they don’t have valuable work experience or a strong work ethic to bring to the table.

If you’re considering hiring homeless workers, keep the best practices above in mind, as well as those mentioned in yesterday’s post, to ensure your efforts are successful for everyone involved.