“Human Resources with Grace”
HR with Grace is a concept shared by Nehemiah Manufacturing Company (NMC) and Beacon of Hope Business Alliance (BOHBA) that leads to the success of second chance hiring. Beacon of Hope is a non-for-profit organization which was born out of NMC’s second chance hiring program.
NMC’s mission is “Building Brands, Creating Jobs, Changing Lives.”
Nehemiah Manufacturing Company was founded in 2009, and their second chance hiring program was honestly started by accident. The goal of Dan Meyer, CEO, and Richard Palmer, President, in 2009 was to bring jobs back to the inner-city of Cincinnati. Partnering with Jobs Plus work development program allowed them to reach out to people who had a felony record. They learned offering jobs was one thing; however they were not prepared for the barriers that this population generally suffers from.
Dan and Richard quickly realized NMC needed someone in the social service area. In late 2010 Dana Merida became Nehemiah’s onsite social service support. At the time, Dana worked for one of Nehemiah’s partners, Greater Cincinnati Behavioral Health, and she was contracted to be onsite at NMC 2-3 days per week. In 2013 Dana joined NMC as a full time employee and is now NMC’s Social Service & Community Engagement Manager. Dana’s role was not only to build NMC’s network and relationships with social agencies and the community, but to also be a resource for employees coming through the program.
Dana and Elle Baker, Social Service Coordinator, shared with me that for a second chance hiring program to be successful, a company has to be “all in.” The program has to be incorporated in the company’s mission. “Needing more bodies to fill open positions cannot be a company’s reason for wanting to practice second chance hiring,” Elle explained. Both Elle and Dana reiterated HR with Grace is so important.
Education and training are also key to a successful program. Both are necessary in helping managers and employees overcome stigmas and assumptions. When speaking about education, Dana and Elle addressed how people make assumptions about individuals with felonies or repeat charges. People assume these charges make the person bad or prone to continue the same behavior. It is easy to make assumptions on paper; that’s why meeting an individual face to face and knowing to ask the right questions is so important.
NMC has learned through much trial and error what works and what doesn’t with second chance hiring. NMC’s program starts with their agency partners. Potential candidates go through a structured program and once the person successfully completes the program the candidate goes through NMC/BOH’s open assessment process. This assessment process helps to unveil and address various barriers, prior to employment. Dana and Elle both echoed that for the most success, companies need structured partnerships with agencies who offer holistic support to their employees.
Once an individual is hired, NMC continues their support by offering “Lunch & Learns” or “Snack & Learns.” At these events, community partners are brought in to discuss a variety of topics, such as the resources that are available to assist individuals in buying a home or to open a bank account. NMC also has an onsite gym and medical clinic, supporting their emphasis on health and wellness. Additionally, NMC has several family-centered events throughout the year. For example, every December a holiday party is held for employees and their families where Santa has a gift for every child, thanks to the generous hearts of those at NMC.
NMC’s second chance hiring program became so successful that the company did not have enough openings to hire everyone looking to find second chance employment. This brought Dan and Richard to the development of Beacon of Hope Business Alliance. BOHBA works with about 75 companies in helping to give individuals with criminal records and other barriers a new opportunity for employment.
Dana and Elle shared the best part of second chance hiring is to be able to celebrate life’s mile markers and successes with their employees. “You see individuals start out, you walk along their journey with them, you watch them stumble, but see them persevere to achieve life successes; opening their first checking account, their first apartment, going back to school and graduating.” Dana encourages you to “celebrate them all!”
To learn more about Nehemiah Manufacturing Company’s story visit their website at www.nehemiahmfg.com/our-story.
Beacon of Hope Business Alliance - https://www.beaconofhopeba.org/
Mary K. Spadaro, SHRM-SCP, SPHR
KY SHRM District Director.
Mary is the Regional HR & Benefit Manager for Employee Management Services. Employee Management Services is a Professional Employer Organization (PEO), a division of Staffmark. Employee Management Services provides professional human resource solutions to more than 160+ companies and their 6,000+ employees. Employee Management Services is proud to partner with Nehemiah as a client.