HR Trends - A second chance

Everyone deserves a second chance, and hiring ex-off enders is not as great a risk as it is presumed to be. The real issue is in getting them to commit to the work and retaining them on a longer-term basis.
By Ananya Mukherjee

The fact that an organisation is willing to consider hiring ex-offenders already puts it in a unique position. Not just that, once a person is offered a position within the company, they are treated equally as everyone else, whether they are ex-offenders or not. This is a view that resonates throughout Armor Asia Imaging Supplies.

To date, the company has placed about 25 employees who were ex-offenders. Currently, about 7% of its employees are sourced from the ex-offender pool and it wants to work more closely with SCORE in the near future.

The only difference is that sometimes there are restrictions from the Prison for security and operational reasons. But this is something the organisation respects and does its best to work around, Mark Day, Managing Director, Armor Asia Imaging Supplies, shares.

Are they different?

No, says Day. The company has a policy of fair employment and off ers employment to everyone and anyone whom it believes can get the job done. “We ensure that all employees are treated equally when they come into our organisation. We never introduce them as ex-offenders.” If the employees choose to share this fact with their colleagues, they do so in a personal capacity. This helps put them on a level playing field with their colleagues. “I also believe that it is the most important part of starting their rehabilitation into normal society.”

However, the real challenge is to bring the necessary support to enable them to integrate to their life outside of prison. It can be a challenging process and dealing with this varies from individual to individual.

Some people are better and they embrace their life outside in a positive manner, to break away from their past mistakes. Some see it as a stepping stone to other places, and don’t do any more than is necessarily required. The biggest challenge is to try and change that kind of perception.

Also, as a company, Armor Asia Imaging Supplies wants to employ and retain people on a long-term basis . “We don’t want them to just come for a short time and then leave, because there is a training process involved and we invest in all our employees, exoff enders or not,” Day says.

Integrating all employees

At the workplace, the company integrates ex-offenders with other employees during training, and sometimes the positive attitude does help to rub off on them.

“The organisation encourages every employee to ask questions, and try to make them feel comfortable. It does have experiences of hiring ex-off enders who are not suitable for the type of work it offers. Sometimes this decision is taken by the company and sometimes by the employee themselves. This is consistent with the nature of the labour market in Singapore. “With the low unemployment rates, some people tend to be pickier,” Day reveals.

With ex-off enders who are released early under licence, the conditions of their release require them to stay with the company for a certain period of time, so Day sees that as an advantage. The employees also get support from SCORE (Singapore Corporation of Rehabilitative Enterprise) and case managers from SACA and SANA. They help provide employees with support to reintegrate in workplace and the society.

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