Over the past year, LSS/NCA resettled over 600 refugees fleeing from persecution and war. Through our resettlement programs, we help each family find a place to call home, provide needed daily household items, and train mentors to help families navigate public transportation, learn English, and engage in common American practices.
But one of the most important aspects of resettlement is helping each individual find a job so he/she can become self-sufficient and build a future in our community. This would not be possible without the help and dedication of local employers who are willing to train and hire refugees.
I sat down with one of our local employers, Jamey and Rudo Robinson from Trust Security, who have hired approximately 15 refugees over the past year to ask about their experience as a refugee employer.
What motivated you to connect with LSS/NCA?
Ms. Robinson: Jamie, an LSS/NCA job developer, contacted me one day to inquire about job openings. We have new positions open all the time and have doubled in size every year for the past four years so we definitely had need of new employees. I wasn’t hesitant about giving it a try and thought it was neat something like this existed.
Why did you decide to hire refugees?
Mr. Robinson: Many folks don’t appreciate a basic, entry level opportunity. Refugees on the other hand, do appreciate the opportunity. They work hard and excel in their position. They show up to work on time and are very gracious. They were overseas, often helping our soldiers, the least we could do is help them.
Last year’s “employee of the year” was Ahamd. He lived about a mile and a half from our store and would walk to work every day. He was never late to his shift that lasted from 2 pm – 10 pm and he worked in a position for 3 years that others had found difficult. We also had four other refugees that have become “employees of the month.”
How has LSS/NCA helped you find and retain employees?
Ms. Robinson: LSS/NCA has helped refugees fill out tax forms, prepare for interviews, fill out job applications, utilize the metro, and create bank accounts. Before refugees come to America, they sometimes know very little about American procedure and processes. LSS/NCA walks with them every step of the way, making our job as the employer exceptionally easy throughout the hiring process.
Can you share a story of an employee who has made a difference?
Mr. Robinson: Muhammed N. from Afghanistan, lost an arm and a finger trying to save an American soldier. He is an amazing example of someone who gave up everything to do the right thing and now we can help him rebuild his life by giving him this opportunity.
Many refugees will travel to their new job location a day in advance in order to ensure that they arrive on time for their first day. Americans we have hired have never put in that effort.
Ms. Robinson: They work hard and save money so they can bring their parents here—there are so many examples of how these people are amazing individuals. They have bigger hearts and a greater work ethic than many we may come across.
Why would you tell other employers to consider hiring refugees? What advice would you give?
Mr. Robinson: Hiring refugees is a great opportunity. Do you want people to show up and work hard? Then it’s an easy decision.
Understand that they are more scared than you are—this is brand new for them. It’s okay to not understand something about them. Just ask and accommodate. For instance, they may need to take leave to go home and visit their families or to celebrate a special cultural holiday, like Ramadan. The more you accommodate their past and situation, the harder they will work and accommodate your needs as an employer.
The more comfortable they are, the happier you will be. Use other refugee employees as mentors for new hires. It will help them learn fast and make friends. Your understanding of their situation will show that you care and are grateful to have them.
Most importantly, ask them their story – they are amazing people and have a lot of talents to share. Give it a chance. It is an amazing opportunity for both you, the employer, and the refugee.
Learn more about our partners at Trust Security by visiting their website: http://www.protectedbytrust.com
Are you interested in hiring a refugee? Visit our refugee employment page today to learn more!