I’ve been away from the site for a while, so I have dozens of pent-up post ideas. But I just ran across this story and it is too compelling, provocative, engaging and inpiring to put aside. Greyston Bakery in Younkers, NY hires entry level people without looking at anything about their skills or background. By putting money into training instead of rigorous hiring processes, they invest in building workers up instead of screening them out.
With this approach, yes, they do end up hiring “unemployable” people: Felons, addicts and people with no experience (and mothers who, as I wrote about earlier, are shunned by many employers). And Greyston is not a charity: Some of the new hires don’t make it past the trial period. But many others do. So many that for 30 years this company has used this policy. They are not waiting for schools, parents, cities to change and give them perfect people. They have proven that employers don’t need to wait.
One-off or a Game Changer??
As always with innovative ideas, this one raises big questions:
- Is this something that can be done broadly?
- How can employers be convinced to try it?
Its a Winner
My corporate and non-profit experience tells me that this can work broadly.
Hewlett Packard had fifty years of phenomenal success because it pioneered a corporate management approach that was not artificial: It built on basic human traits. All over the world and at all levels people are motivated by direction with freedom, feeling respected, being part of a team and high expectations. In its golden age, H-P regularly moved people into new positions in which they did not have specific experience. The company trained people on all types of workplace skills: teamwork, planning, communications, etc.
Greyston Bakery has gone one step further by eliminating any up-front screening, but it has proven again that success comes from managing people as people instead of as expendable, low-potential resources. And they are willing to help other companies learn how to do what they are doing.
Anyone who has worked in social services knows that whether in unemployment lines or homes there are millions of highly capable people who are just a few encouraging words, instructions, and feedback from blossoming into great employees.
Convincing Employers: How we all can help make it happen
Here is the link to a really great TED talk by the President of Greyston, Mike Brady, and Dion Drew, one of their employees. This is a great way to let others know about what they do and how it affects real people and everyone around them.
The benefits of the open hiring approach extend beyond the companies that do this, to the cities and towns whose citizens get the chance to use their talents and contribute:
- a good example,
- purchasing power and
to the rest of the community. But because it requires some new thinking and new actions, companies may need help and motivation. So be a change agent: Encourage your local government, education and non-profit organizations to help bootstrap this kind of program in local companies.
Support Greyston by gifting something delicious year-round!
Visit the Greyston brownie store and help them continue to show what is possible.