Best Practices

Hiring refugees can be a rewarding experience and a good business decision.


Refugees are hard workers and eager to rebuild their lives. Below are some best practices to keep in mind when hiring.

Hire the best person for the job. Employers recognize that successful integration of refugees into a community means no discrimination for or against any member of their community based on race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, sexual identification, national origin, age, marital status, disability, refugee status or veteran status.

Consider having an interpreter during job training for limited English speakers to ensure understanding about expectations for the job as well as company values, policy and protocols.

If you have English-speaking refugees and are using them as interpreters for others who speak their native language, be sure to ask if they are comfortable translating information to their colleagues.

Don’t expect refugees, who oftentimes haven’t lived or worked in the U.S. for long, to understand their employers’ priorities. Communicate your priorities and expectations clearly.

Understand the power of nonverbal communication. Showing a refugee how to perform a certain task instead of simply explaining how to do something can lead to better understanding.

Because it is often easy to stereotype people from different cultures, employers who treat refugees as individuals are the most successful.

Properly follow I-9 documentation procedures when making a hire.

Consider creating a Refugee Support Committee to determine how your business can best support its workers with refugee status. This can include connecting them with local resources for:

  • ESL classes
  • Financial planning and tax help
  • Assistance navigating the healthcare system
  • Pairing them with a “lunch buddy” who can meet on a monthly or weekly basis

 

Sources: Idaho Office for Refugees Employer’s Handbook and the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization in Portland's hiring practices.

Additional resources: U.S. Employers’ Guide to Hiring Refugees, which was created by Tent and the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service.
This new guide reads in part, “Hiring refugees can strengthen a company’s brand by demonstrating that a company is living its values. That can be appealing for consumers, and for a company’s workforce. Increasingly, consumers are demanding that businesses make a positive impact in their communities, and they are more loyal to the brands that do.”