By Ron Maxwell - CEO
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on employment has been colossal. We are seeing workers asked to take a pay cut, stood down, or losing their jobs in almost every industry. And while this is a challenging time for anyone facing changes to their employment, for groups who already faced additional barriers, this situation could prove difficult well into the future.
When unemployment is high, businesses typically have a larger, more qualified pool of candidates to choose from. This often means our mature-aged workers, people with disability and long-term unemployed can be overlooked.
Yet hiring from these groups can be a win for individuals, businesses and communities.
At VERTO, we work extensively with employers and jobseekers to train and place people from all sectors of society, and we see the value diversity can offer. So, I want to share with you some of the benefits of retaining equal opportunity recruitment practices through COVID-19 and beyond.
The right employee saves time and money
Recruitment can be a time-consuming exercise; it can take months to find, onboard and train a new employee. If your new hire leaves in the first year and you have to start all over again, that can be costly for your business.
While it can be tempting, when you have a large pool of candidates, to hire the person with the most qualifications, if they're over-qualified for the job, their tenure may be short. Hiring them may also present a range of cultural challenges, from boredom to negative attitudes.
Both the research and our own experience at VERTO shows that mature-age workers and people with disability tend to be loyal employees who will commit to your organisation and stay the course.
Benefit from hardworking, loyal employees
There are many misconceptions when it comes to hiring from diverse groups. A common one is that hiring people with disability always requires expensive modifications to the workplace. This is simply not the case. In most cases, modifications are small, such as accessible software or computer keyboards, and businesses can access government support and wage subsidies to offset any costs.
Another wrong assumption is that people with disability take more sick leave or are more prone to workplace accidents. The research actually shows the opposite; people with disability tend to be engaged, loyal and hardworking individuals who value their employment and their contribution to your business.
When it comes to mature-age employees, there are often misconceptions around digital literacy. At VERTO, we run the Skills Checkpoint and Career Transition Assistance programs to help older Australians upskill or reskill. Overwhelmingly, participants are keen to learn and pick up these skills quickly.
VERTO has successfully placed many mature-aged workers and people with disability into roles that have changed their lives for the better and improved outcomes for the business.
One story that comes to mind is that of John Crasti, a man who was looking to get back into the workforce after an accident left him with significant physical disability. VERTO assisted him to find employment at Bourke's Wholesale Fruit and Vegetables, where he makes a significant contribution to the business.
Diversity drives productivity and loyalty
There is a ton of research out there that suggests a diverse workforce drives productivity and job satisfaction among your wider team. It boosts team morale and shows your workforce that you value diversity, and it can even foster innovation.
Diversity can also have an impact on your customers. Customers tend to choose brands that have a workforce that reflects them, so a diverse demographic in your workforce, can build your customer base too.
It supports individuals and communities
The benefits of employment are far reaching. For the individual, it increases financial independence, self-worth and self-esteem. For communities, increasing employment opportunities improves mental health rates, reduces crime, and improves community wellbeing.
Businesses can play a significant role in supporting the communities in which they operate, and it's a driving force and one of our key values at VERTO. If your business can hire loyal, hardworking employees, increase wider team productivity, and improve community wellbeing at the same time, it makes sense on every level.