Hiring Disadvantaged Individuals Is A Win-Win For Employer And Employee
Businesses not only gain access to a ready workforce but also help empower individuals to carve a living for themselves.
As an employee at the ValuDollar Store@Jalan Kukoh, John is responsible for the management of the store, including opening and closing. Ever friendly and affable, he is good with customers, and even has regulars who drop by the store.
It was a complete change from when he first joined two-and-a-half years ago, remarks Benny Chua, John’s boss, the franchisee of the ValuDollar Store.
“John had low self-esteem and was very reserved when I first met him,” he says. “But he had a very positive attitude and performed well in the first three to four months.”
What makes John’s progress even more remarkable was his unconventional background. He lives at Transit Point @ Jalan Kukoh, a shelter for displaced individuals.
He was unemployed and was referred by a career coach to the nearby ValuDollar outlet, which happened to be looking for staff.
When Mr Chua learned of John’s situation, he did not hesitate to offer him a job.
“The rising cost of living impacts the underprivileged in our community even more. Daily costs such as food, transport and essential products are a struggle for them to afford. They need opportunities to be able to uplift to support themselves and their families. Hence, I am prepared to provide employment opportunities whenever I am hiring,” he says.
At the start, John required extra effort to train due to his seniority. While training him, Mr Chua identified his strengths and gave him tasks that he could excel in to build his confidence.
“I showed John that I trusted him, and this improved his confidence. He also became more motivated to work harder and build a better life for himself,” says Mr Chua.
Disadvantaged individuals like John are more common than one would think in Singapore.
There are three transitional shelters, including the one John lives in, here.
Transit Point @ Jalan Kukoh is operated by New Hope Community Services, a social service agency. It helps individuals by preparing them for employment and connecting them with organisations that are hiring.
Oftentimes, a combination of complex factors leaves some individuals disadvantaged or in dire situations such as homelessness.
Employment is the key to independence and integration with the community. With employment, workers get access to other subsidy schemes such as housing or childcare, which are especially crucial for disadvantaged groups.
Here’s where businesses can play their part and provide opportunities for employment.
When businesses provide such opportunities to vulnerable groups, they are opening themselves up to a readily available group of people with varying skill sets that they can bring to their employers. Businesses not only do good by providing job security, sustainability, and empowering people, they also get to reap the cost savings that come from fewer job turnovers and re-training.
In the case of John, Mr Chua believed in showing him respect and giving him added responsibility as he progressed to help him build the skills needed to excel in his job.
Reaping the benefits of doing good
Another business that extended a helping hand to disadvantaged individuals was Kynergy Management Services, which supplies manpower to petrol kiosks.
Kynergy has been working with the Community Development Council since 2005 to provide employment to this group.
“Since I am hiring and there are people willing to learn and work, I do not mind hiring them. At the same time, I can also help them,” says Karen Ng, the sole proprietor of the company.
She wrote to New Hope in 2020 asking if they had anyone looking for jobs. Since then, whenever the agency has people ready to be employed, she would get referrals from them.
In 2021, New Hope supported three of their rough sleepers to find employment at Kynergy and two of them are still working for her.
“I’ve seen them improve a lot. They enjoy meeting people and are willing to learn. Having a job helps them feel a part of society and they are thankful for the opportunity to work,” she says.
At the same time, this helps business owners like Ms Ng fill a shortage of manpower with a readily available pool of workers.
Mr Chua agrees that hiring disadvantaged individuals help companies meet their labour challenges.
Employees like John are assets to the company. He is also a good role model for other employees as he shows that he is willing to learn and take on new responsibilities.
“SMEs cannot afford to depend on foreign workers. These disadvantaged Individuals are a pool of ready resources for employers to tap on. By doing so, employers are helping to uplift more people in the community. Like John, with patience, training and guidance, they can potentially be an asset to the company,” says Mr Chua.
Interested to find out more about how your business can help vulnerable individuals? You can do your part through the SBF Foundation’s Employability Fund.
The Employability Fund is where businesses can make donations which go directly to the various charities that help these groups. The Fund supports programmes that provide outreach to different population groups such as rough sleepers or homeless, long-term unemployed parents and caregivers of at-risk children, and persons with mental health conditions.