The benefits of hiring nontraditional employees

If we know that too much uniformity is bad, why do we accept it in our workplaces? Palette Skills looks at how to build diversity in your organization!

Diversity is a business imperative

There’s a common theme in dystopian movies and books, and it’s that everyone is the same. Dystopian uniformity goes beyond the kinds of clothes that everyone wears, and includes the way people think and feel. But by the end of these stories, someone always finds a weakness in the system, and the whole thing comes crashing down. So if we know that uniformity is bad, why would we accept it in our workplaces? And more to the point, what kinds of possibilities are companies missing out on when they overlook nontraditional employees? 

That’s why inclusive hiring and practices are an essential part of business growth in Canada and around the world. Building a diverse workforce is a skill that hiring managers, HR professionals, and people leaders need to prioritize, and the best way to do this is to implement diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) principles in everything from hiring to retention. The fact is, if you don’t have a DEI toolkit for your organization, you are risking growth and opportunity. 

Get to know nontraditional employees

Making a decision to hire a new employee is a big deal—and one that will cost your organization time and money. So it’s understandable that when it comes to hiring decisions, we can be a little conservative and afraid of risk. While it may seem easier to hire employees that fit a mold, we need to think carefully about the benefits of risk-taking when it comes to hiring. And this means being open to, and aware of, nontraditional talent. 

So who are these nontraditional employees? The category is large and diverse, and can include everyone from new grads to recent immigrants and refugees, older people (45 +), career switchers, freelancers and neurodiverse individuals. These are the kinds of people who are often overlooked, sometimes because of conscious bias, but more often, because of our own unconscious biases.

Before you stop reading, no-one is saying we are consciously biased when it comes to hiring. But the truth is, we make important decisions based on emotions and experiences we aren’t aware of. And that’s why having a DEI toolkit is important. For example, part of an organization’s DEI toolkit should include looking beyond traditional degrees. According to Forbes, there are many factors outside of a hiring manager’s control, but they can make sure not to rely too much on traditional degrees. Nontraditional employees such as career switchers and people with alternative credentials expand your pool of candidates, let alone new grads, immigrants, the 45 + crowd, freelancers, and the neurodiverse. 

Get ahead in the race for talent 

If you leave out any group of talented, willing, and diverse employees, you risk falling behind your competition. And more than that, expanding your hiring to include nontraditional employees will help you gain access to new perspectives and markets. A study from Harvard Business Review found that diverse companies had a 19% higher innovation revenue. Moreover, research from McKinsey found that companies with diverse executive teams outperform their competitors, and that diverse companies are more likely to outperform less diverse rivals when it comes to profitability. So with all that, let’s get introduced to your new talent.

Attract and retain new grads in Canada

While someone who’s just graduated from university, college or trades school may have less experience than someone in the field for 20 years, they come with fresh and state of the art ideas.  By giving a new grad a chance, you’ll find someone who’s eager to learn, and coachable. And because they’ve grown up around technology, they’ll bring a level of savvy your company needs. 

Inclusive hiring for internationally trained workers

According to the federal government, a significant number of Canadians have training and experience acquired outside of Canada. These are people facing the barrier of not enough Canadian experience. Internationally trained newcomers bring fresh and diverse perspectives, and access to new markets you may not have been able to reach.  

From career switchers to business innovators

Career switchers have worked in other fields for a significant time, and that makes them invaluable. Someone from a different industry can introduce new ways of doing things. And the soft skills they’ve acquired in their other career(s) may be critical. Forbes argues that hiring managers should bring an open mind to people with diverse experiences, simply because they have transferable skills that are an asset to their new job. 

Harness the power of older employees for growth

Ageism is a thing in the hiring process. Many analysts believe that one of the biggest and most problematic types of bias is age, and with an older workforce, it’s now becoming a major challenge. Too often, older workers are seen as being more difficult to manage, and requiring higher pay. But older workers bring a high level of emotional intelligence to the workplace and tend to be more loyal—and even more innovative. 

Help freelancers and businesses thrive

Freelance solutions are popping up in every industry because they offer a realistic and attractive alternative to traditional staffing. While they may be more expensive upfront, over the long run, they are less expensive and more productive.  Freelance workers are often more motivated because they are paid per project, and do not have time to waste. 

Unlocking the potential of neurodiverse talent

A person who is neurodiverse experiences and interacts with the world around them in ways that traditionally-minded people might find unusual or different. While the term refers to many types of diversity, it’s commonly used to speak about people who are ADHD, on the autism spectrum, and even bipolar. These ways of being in and seeing the world are often associated with creativity, yet many neurodiverse individuals face barriers to joining the conventional workplace.

Get down to strategy and build partnerships

Now that we have an idea who these non-traditional employees are, and have a better sense of the benefits they bring to the workplace, let’s look at how to include them in our hiring strategies, and eventually, in our teams. HR managers and people leaders need to look at their hiring processes, and think critically about how they’ve sourced talent in the past. There are lots of diverse candidates, but do you have the in-house ability to really see and consider them? By partnering with Palette Skills, HR managers get access to an abundance of skilled and diverse candidates, which means you have more time to focus on your business. It’s a partnership that offers employers the opportunity to diversify their talent pool, and reap the benefits of non-traditional talent. 

Want to join our network of people disrupting the talent acquisition industry? Join with Palette Skills today, and become one of our many employer partners!

This article was written by Erica Amery; Intercultural Collaborations 

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