Lutheran Family Services, Nebraska (LFSNeb) recently put together the best employer panel Higher has ever seen for the recent LIRS resettlement affiliate conference – and we’ve organized a number of them ourselves.
The strong and carefully tended relationships between these three employers and LFSNeb’s Job Developer, Carol Tucker, is one of the main success factors.
Here are the highlights of what we learned.
“Make my life easier.”
All three employers and refugee advocates agree that this is THE most important thing we offer to employers. New hire paperwork. Pre-screened candidates. Eliminating transportation barriers. Checking in frequently during the first few weeks of a new hire’s tenure. Providing daylight savings time signage or volunteer-baked cookies during the holidays. Whatever you do to achieve this goal is a win-win.
Reasons for Strong Job Retention Rates
We can all be proud of job retention rates that are higher than the national norm. When asked their opinions about the factors that contribute to this success, panelists agreed on three factors:
- Client cultural values – the specifics may be different, but refugees offer motivation, commitment and other strong “soft skill” success factors.
- Job Readiness Preparation – this is definitely a part of the mix. Refugee clients benefit from all of the work we do to help them adjust their skills, attitudes and behaviors for the U.S. workplace.
- Job Developer’s role – Employment programs are structured differently. The relationship, trust and reliable presence of a person supporting each employer consistently over time is invaluable. Higher continued to identify some intentional focus on job development as a national best practice.
Pre-employment training is worth the effort.
Anything that reduces turnover – and even better, preempts turnover – is welcomed. Job shadowing, short term vocational training and any other strategies that build applicant skills are seen as a benefit and a service. You aren’t asking for a favor. You’re adding value.
Job development persistence pays off.
“When Carol first got in touch, we didn’t have any problems filling our pipeline. When my situation changed suddenly we lost 90% of our workforce at once, I called Carol.” She left a packet and kept in touch. Not too often to be a pest, but enough that the services she offered weren’t forgotten.
On Internal Promotion Potential
We asked for advice for refugees to position themselves for career advancement with their current employer (in addition to learning English).
Here’s how the panelists, all of whom have promoted refugee employees, answered:
- Be on time and show up every day. Strong attendance records count a lot.
- Demonstrate engagement. Ask questions. Always be ready and able to learn new things.
- Express an interest in career advancement. Assertive communication and promote-ability go together.
- Help others. Peer leadership from within a team is essential. For example, help others finish their work in addition to completing assigned tasks early and correctly.
- Most difficult transition they’ve seen among refugees they have already promoted: Making the transition beyond a friend or advocate role. It’s important to be neutral and comfortable enforcing company policies. (This is difficult for all workers, not just refugees.)
- If you are recognized as Employee of the Week or another employee performance strategy we already offer, you’re on our radar screen. That never hurts.
“Don’t be offended if I don’t call you back.”
Your employer contacts are busy. They appreciate the attention and the information you might leave in a brief message. If the matter is time sensitive, say that or pre-arrange emergency procedures so neither of you have to wait if the matter is urgent.