Do a Google search for recruitment and retention strategies for the Native American workforce, and you'll quickly find your research comes up short. Making up less than two percent of the workforce, this overlooked demographic suffers from unemployment rates double that of national averages.
According to U.S. News and World Report, their labor force participation rate is 61.6 percent, the lowest for all race groups. However, the reality is that Native Americans not only provide a larger workforce pool in the areas where populations are concentrated, but they bring a unique diversity unparalleled by any other group.
Many have learned to balance their tribal world with American culture. Those seeking higher education are often first in their family to do so, displaying a determination and work ethnic that would be an asset to any organization.
How can you successfully recruit and retain top Native American candidates? Below are three important employee benefit considerations for the Native American workforce.
Highlight Opportunities for Long-term Security
Less than five percent of Native Americans can afford to attend college without financial assistance. That's why only 13 percent of Native Americans have bachelor's degrees, compared to 28 percent of the overall population.
Recruit top talent by emphasizing the company's commitment to professional development and long-term security. Outline the training programs and mentoring opportunities, as well as skills the recruit will learn. If your company has a tuition reimbursement program, emphasize that getting a college education while working is an option. Help them see that you are investing in them, and that they will be learning competencies that will last a lifetime, not just a paycheck to get them through the month. Convey the message that loyalty to your company is an investment in their future.
Tap into top talent by recruiting at vocational schools and tribal colleges. According to Diversity Officer Magazine, "Native Americans who aim for higher education too often get funneled into vocational schools and are three times as likely to attend two-year colleges compared to white Americans." Emphasizing future educational and growth opportunities within the organization will definitely appeal to these already motivated young people.
Leverage Community Responsibility
Native Americans have a deep sense of community. Attract top talent by emphasizing opportunities for community involvement within the organization. Be proactive about giving back to the Native American community. Make your name well-known and trusted.
What employee benefits would appeal to a community-oriented person? Flexible schedules, paid leave, unpaid and/or paid time off for philanthropic activites, and family leave would help a Native American applicant see that a career within your organization doesn't mean abandoning their community. A matching gift program for employee charitable giving is also an excellent way to cultivate stronger ties with Native American applicants and employees.
Work at building a good name within the Native American community, and be sure your mission highlights social responsibility and environmental consciousness. Select an existing Native American applicant to serve as a mentor or liaison for new recruits, ensuring they have the support needed to grow. A happy employee will spread the word within his or her community, increasing your chances of future applicants.
Craft Benefits to Overcome Challenges
Native American communities face challenges that may not be unique, but are certainly more pervasive in their communities. Unemployment is double that of other demographics; 25 percent live in poverty and health care is not accessible to all. Often, even employment is a challenge because jobs are too far from home, transportation is not available, or family obligations restrict travel.
Keep these challenges in mind when making an offer. When emphasizing growth opportunities, highlight income growth as well. If bonuses or commission can be factored into a position, be sure the applicant understands the potential. Have a liaison explain available health benefits, specifically pointing out that family coverage is available. If multiple workers come from the same area, arrange car pools to offset transportation costs. Focus on how the job will help the applicant better care for his or her family, both financially and physically.
Targeting a minority demographic is challenging. It requires being aware of their challenges, while not stereotyping. A heightened awareness and respect for marketable attributes of your Native American employee pool will help you tap into top talent, keep them around for the long-term, and recruit a more diverse and dynamic team. Contact us to learn more recruitment strategies and important employee benefits considerations for your workforce.