Growing Your Workforce with New Americans, People in Recovery and Post-Incarceration

July 12, 2019 at 09:18am

“You do right because it’s the right thing to do.”

These words from our founder, Ted Castle, are what we use as a guiding principle at Rhino. We carry this mission into everything we do, but one of the biggest areas of opportunity is in our hiring practices.

In conversation with HR Generalist Lorri Miller and People Program Manager Ariella Pasackow, we got into the details of Rhino’s hiring strategy. Lorri summed it up best when she said, “We try to bring in people that are looking to make a better life for themselves.” In partnership with Working Fields and Burlington Employment Agency, we regularly hire people who are New Americans, in recovery, and post-incarceration. “We take a lot of pride in our diverse community here, especially in Vermont,” said Ariella. “We try to think outside the box about how we can invite people into our community and create a workplace that works for them.”

With their expertise at hand, we compiled all the ways in which Rhino is striving for a more fulfilling, diverse, and happy workplace.

Lorri Miller

Second Chance Hiring. It really is exactly what it sounds like. “Maybe someone has made some mistakes in the past, but who hasn’t?” said Lorri. “We want people that want to do better, and we want to help them do better.” Giving someone an opportunity when no one else will often results in loyalty and work ethic that is invaluable to a business like ours.

Language Learning Classes. “We have four ESL (English as a Second Language) classes scheduled this year through a partnership with Vermont Training Program. Two basic classes, and two advanced reading and writing classes for employees that have been here for a little longer, but still need some help,” said Lorri.

Ariella Pasackow

Resource Coordinator. “This is an amazing resource that we are constantly referring to,” said Ariella. “It’s a confidential place where employees can get support with their personal needs and challenges.” This means everything from housing issues to tax prep. This was originally a United Way program piloted by Rhino, and it has since become a longstanding partnership. The Resource Coordinator is provided to employees during office hours on paid time, in an effort to lower the barriers and increase usefulness.

Injury Health Management. Body Mechanics, as we call them, come in twice a week to help whoever needs it. “Every shift does stretches before work, but if you’re working on something and your back is bothering you, they’re there to help,” Lorri explained. “This also alerts us to any possibility of injuries. The last thing we want is to hurt anybody.”

Income Advance Program. In partnership with North Country Federal Credit Union, this program offers same day $1,000 loans for emergency or unplanned needs. To explain this one, Lorri gave us a scenario: ”I will never forget the time that somebody came to me because their parent had died in another country and they needed to get home. We were able to give them the income advance, and they got home in time for the funeral.” The income advance allows employees to feel supported, so they can come to work focused and clear minded.

Of course, we haven’t reached the end of the road. There are still areas of improvement, and we’ll continue to champion that progress as much as we can. “We’re looking into bringing in a recovery coach to help some of our recovering and post-incarceration folks.” said Lorri. For Ariella, the goal is to keep a pulse on the employee experience. “New programs are going to come from employees,” she said.

Our daily focus is on creating delicious recipes, but at the end of the day, nothing is more important than doing good by our people. This means putting the focus on our employees and culture, and encouraging others to do the same. When we strengthen our community, we strengthen our business.

How do you make sure you’re bringing your best self to work every day?