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EMAILED ON February 12, 2020 BY Caroline Dohack

One retailer wants to bring in more workers — by asking them less

Some job seekers struggle to find work because of questions about their past, a big gap on a résumé, or even a criminal record.

What if companies recruited differently? What if they got rid of some of the harder questions, and gave applicants a chance to break out of the cycle of struggle?

It’s called open hiring — and The Body Shop is all in

Here’s how it works: No background checks. Just answer a few questions — are you authorized to work in the US? Can you meet the job’s physical demands? — and you’re in.

The cosmetics company tried it with seasonal workers at a North Carolina distribution center. The Body Shop wants to expand the practice to all of its retail stores this summer.

The early results were impressive:

  • The company got the holiday-season staffing it needed.
  • Monthly turnover fell by 60%.
  • Productivity increased.

And it all started with some brownies

The Body Shop got guidance from New York’s Greyston Bakery. Founded in 1982 under the Buddhist principle of non-judgment, it hires workers who meet basic criteria on a first-come, first-serve basis as positions open. 

It’s possible you’ve tasted Greyston’s goodies. Whole Foods and Wegmans have sold its brownies, and Ben and Jerry’s mixes them into its Chocolate Fudge Brownie ice cream.

Greyston’s Center for Open Hiring helps businesses that want to open doors — and floors — to workers who have previously been shut out.

Lowering barriers can be good business

Hiring practices that exclude people with criminal records keep lots of people out of a job.

  • 30% of US adults have a criminal record, defined by the FBI as an arrest on a felony charge.
  • Of these 70m people, ¾ won’t be convicted.

And research shows their exclusion is costly.

  • One study found that employers who stopped asking about criminal activity experienced less turnover.
  • It costs $3.5k+ to replace an $11/hour worker.
  • Money saved on recruiting can go toward benefits and other employee-retaining perks.

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