Refugees as Employees

Are Refugee Employees Good Talent Source for Manufacturers?

May 24, 2018
In manufacturing, average annual refugee turnover was 4% annually, compared to 11% overall.

Employers that hire refugees see positive outcomes for their businesses, according to a recent report by the Fiscal Policy Institute and the Tent Partnership for Refugees.

When employers hire refugees they see lower turnover rates among refugees, and widen their pool of potential employees. In addition, many see overall improvements in the company, with their managers becoming more versatile as they adjust to working with a more diverse workforce.

Among the report’s findings:

• Three-quarters of firms surveyed saw lower turnover rates for refugees than overall

• The turnover rates were lower in all industries, sometimes by half or more. In manufacturing, average annual refugee turnover was 4% annually, compared to 11% overall. In meat packing, it was 25% compared to 40% overall.

• Lower turnover translates into efficiency for companies. Replacing an employee was estimated for these employers to cost about $5,000—more than enough to offset the costs of hiring and retaining refugee employees.

• Employers often saw overall improvements in their managers after refugees were hired.

“This report is the first of its kind focused on the experience of businesses that hire refugees, and we are excited to see clear evidence that employers benefit from bringing refugees into their workforce,” said Gideon Maltz, executive director of the Tent Partnership for Refugees, which was a partner and funder of the project. “As Tent works to mobilize businesses to support refugees wherever they live, these findings make the case that hiring refugees isn’t just the right thing to do — it’s good for business.”

The report is based on over 100 interviews, including 26 employers of refugees in four regions of the country - Eastern Nebraska, Phoenix, Arizona, the Atlanta metro area, and upstate New York. It includes analysis of the jobs done by refugees around the country, based on an imputation of refugee status in the American Community Survey. And it includes data about the placement of refugees over the past 10 years in metro areas around the country, based on analysis of WRAPS (Worldwide Refugee Admissions Processing System) data.

“We found employers were enthusiastic about their refugee employees, and they were proud of their managers, who had gotten to be better at their jobs as they adapted to the changing environment,” said David Dyssegaard Kallick, deputy director of the Fiscal Policy Institute and co-author of the report. “Managers got better at communicating clearly and simply with all employees. And they got better at hiring people on the basis of their potential to do the job rather than on their prior knowledge of a specific skill set.”

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