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As an employer, your business can greatly benefit from hiring resettled refugees. Not only are customers and stakeholders becoming increasingly interested in working with businesses with strong corporate social responsibility standards, but having a diverse workforce can help your business succeed. Additionally, many refugees have years of work experience and qualifications from their home countries and, therefore, should be provided with the opportunity to work in Australia. This article will set out five critical tips for employing refugees and what you should consider as an employer.
1. Give Refugees an Opportunity
The opportunity for consistent and fulfilling employment can significantly contribute to the successful resettlement of refugees in Australia. To achieve this, employers must be willing to allow refugees to apply their strengths, skills and experience in an Australian workplace setting.
It is preferable to offer permanent positions for stability. However, you should consider initially offering alternative recruitment options such as:
- work experience programs;
- internships; or
- transitional roles.
This will allow you and the potential employee to determine whether you are the right fit for one another before committing to long-term employment.
2. Provide a Comprehensive Induction and Orientation
Providing a comprehensive induction and orientation to new employees is essential to ensure your policies are communicated and understood. This is particularly relevant if this will be an employee’s first job in an Australian workplace, which is often the case for refugees.
Hence, you should consider:
- drafting your employment handbook in different languages;
- spending more time explaining business-specific jargon; and
- providing mentors for new employees whom they can approach with questions.
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3. Create a Supportive Team Environment
A supportive team environment can be invaluable for new employees when learning the practices of a new workplace. This is particularly relevant for employees from cultural backgrounds where respect for authority is highly regarded, and they may be reluctant to approach their supervisor with questions or issues.
It would be beneficial for the employees to approach another team member to assist them. In addition, consider having group lunches, activities, or social events to encourage group participation and foster a casual and friendly workplace culture. Alternatively, having a buddy system in place is a good idea. It can help ensure new employees have a close relationship with one person on their team and feel comfortable raising questions and concerns.
4. Be Flexible and Respectful
Any employee of yours is likely to have personal issues that can impact their work. It is essential to remember that refugees are likely to be dealing with complex settlement issues alongside their work which could include visa applications, housing and transport problems or supporting other family members in the community or their home country. They may also have a religious background which may require special accommodations. For example, this may include the need for prayer breaks throughout the day or absence from work for religious holidays.
Therefore, you should consider operating flexibly in these situations by offering time in lieu or different start or finish times so that you are more likely to retain staff and encourage employee loyalty. You should also seek to foster strong lines of communication between management and employees to accommodate any need for flexible workplace arrangements.
5. Treat Your Employees Equally
It is essential to treat all of your employees as equals and not to give preferential treatment to those with or without a refugee background. Unequal treatment may create disharmony in the workplace. Further, the refugees likely do not want to be treated any differently than another employee, be it positive or negative.
Whether it’s your first hire or your fiftieth, this guide will help you understand the moving parts behind building a high-performing team.
As an employer, you should recognise that there are significant barriers for refugees to find sustainable and meaningful employment. However, if you support their transition, you will find they can bring a wealth of skills, experience and determination to your workplace. Some key things to keep in mind when hiring refugees include:
- allowing refugees to display their skills;
- providing a comprehensive induction and orientation;
- creating a supportive team environment;
- being flexible and respectful; and
- treating all of your employees equally.
If you need assistance preparing policies and procedures suitable for refugees, our experienced employment lawyers can assist as part of our LegalVision membership. For a low monthly fee, you will have unlimited access to lawyers to answer your questions and draft and review your documents. Call us today on 1300 544 755 or visit our membership page.
Frequently Asked Questions
As an employer, your business can greatly benefit from hiring resettled refugees. Many refugees have years of work experience and qualifications from their home countries. Further, employment opportunities can significantly contribute to the successful resettlement of refugees in Australia.
Some key things to keep in mind when hiring refugees include allowing them to display their skills, providing a comprehensive induction and orientation, creating a supportive team environment, being flexible and respectful, and treating all of your employees equally.
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