Europe’s refugee crisis is well reported - with no signs of letting up given the tragic situation in Syria.
Yet despite the fact most have been through unimaginable struggles to get to the UK, these displaced people are stereotyped by some parts of the media as lazy, greedy or wanting to ‘get something for nothing’.
Refugees have had their claim for asylum accepted and are legally entitled to live and work in this country, with full employment and training rights and the same protection against discrimination in the workplace.
However, they often struggle to find employment. There are many reasons for this, including language barriers, confusion around working rights or perhaps just prejudice.
Helping refugees with work or work experience can help them settle in their new life and give them a fresh start. You may be surprised to learn it can also help your business, too. Let’s look at four reasons how.
Many refugees are highly qualified
According to the Refugee Council, many refugees are qualified to degree level and above, and speak at least two additional languages to English. A study by the Nuffield Foundation showed that 65% are either employed, self-employed or studying.
Refugees have often already been working successfully in their home countries, with enough savings to try and make the perilous journey to Europe.
Smart businesses are realising that they simply can’t afford to ignore this untapped pool of refugee talent - especially as there’s a continuing candidate shortage in the UK (according to the CIPD, in the last year two in five employers have struggled to recruit the staff they need).
Refugees tend to be committed employees
It’s costly to recruit and train new staff, and research suggests that hiring refugees may mean lower staff turnover.
A recent report by the Fiscal Policy Institute and the Tent Foundation sheds a light on the experience of businesses that hire refugees.
Of the 26 employers interviewed, 73% said that their refugee workers stayed in their roles longer than other parts of the workforce. The turnover rate was up to 15% lower compared to overall - understandable given that refugees have fled war or persecution and crave stability in the form of a welcoming environment and long-term role.
Refugees contribute to a diverse workplace
Welcoming refugees to your workforce will naturally increase the diversity of your company, which can only be a good thing.
Research shows that greater diversity and inclusivity in the workplace spells success, with businesses enjoying increased productivity, innovation, growth and retention when there’s a greater ethnic and gender mix.
Working with people from different backgrounds and experiences - no matter their race, gender, sexuality, age or disability - brings new ideas and perspectives to foster innovation and boost motivation.And this translates to the bottom line. In fact, the least diverse companies are nearly a third less likely to be profitable.
Hiring refugees is socially responsible
Increasingly, customers prefer to support businesses who are socially responsible. More and more job seekers, too, are choosing to work for companies who focus on values and ethics - not just profit.
Making efforts to hire refugees from your local area, or at least helping some gain skills and work experience in your company or in the local community shows you’re taking real steps to be socially responsible. On moral grounds it’s also, of course, the right thing to do.
At HR GO, we know how getting a job means so much more than being employed (take a look at our mission statement). For refugees, too, finding work can make the crucial difference in life. It’s the first step towards being able to put down roots, integrate and get some self-esteem back. Smart employers want to be part of that - particularly as their businesses can benefit too.