Inclusive recruitment support

Guidance, case studies and information about how employers can attract, recruit and retain people from a variety of backgrounds to enhance your business.

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Recruiting from a diverse range of backgrounds has a number of business benefits. Now more than ever, considering candidates from a wider talent pool can bring the skills you need to your business.

Benefits for employers include:

  • recruiting people who have overcome their own personal challenges, so can bring fresh perspectives, ideas and solutions to problems
  • a diverse workforce is strongly connected to employee retention, as employees feel accepted and respected
  • businesses report that employees go the extra mile to secure results, stay with their employer for longer, have a strong commitment to their organisation and lower rates of absenteeism
  • the Business in the Community publication ‘Business Benefits of Work Inclusion 2015’ found 92% of employers say diverse recruitment has enhanced their reputation, helping them win new contracts

Benefits of a diverse workforce

Why employ a diverse workforce?

Putting time and effort into developing inclusive recruitment and training processes has helped Buildbase to secure dedicated and skilled staff from a diverse range of backgrounds:

Buildbase video on diverse recruitment


Returners are people with existing work experience who have taken an extended career break, for caring or other reasons.

Recruiting returners to work can deliver competitive advantages for employers, including tackling skills shortages. A returner programme widens your prospective candidate pool to include those that could have the experience or skills you need. It can also be a cost-effective way to recruit, as it may reduce the need for extensive training.

What are other businesses doing?

EY’s Reconnect returners programme is bringing valuable skills to their organisation.

EY’s video about hiring returners to the workplace

How can I find out more?

The Government Equalities Office Returners Toolkit can help you take the first steps towards developing an effective returners programme. The Best Practice Guidance provides helpful information about attracting, recruiting and retaining returners.

Help and support for returning to work guidance offers advice to those looking to return to work.

Disability Confident

Disability Confident is creating a movement of change, encouraging employers to think differently about disability and take action to improve how they recruit, retain and develop disabled employees.

Why you should become Disability Confident

The scheme helps employers recruit and retain great people, and:

  • draw from the widest possible pool of talent
  • secure high quality staff who are skilled, loyal and hard working
  • improve employee morale and commitment by demonstrating that you treat all employees fairly

It also helps customers and other businesses identify those employers who are committed to equality in the workplace.

How Acacia Training have benefited from being a Disability Confident employer

Support available to your business

The Disability Confident scheme has 3 levels, so you can achieve the level that’s right for your organisation. It’s free to sign up and there are free resources to help you.

For more information on the scheme visit the Disability Confident website.

Access to Work may be able to help with practical and financial support for employees with a disability or long term physical or mental health condition.

Homeless people

Homelessness can mean sleeping on the streets or living in a hostel, shelter or refuge. It also means living in supported housing when an individual has been homeless, sofa surfing or living with friends or family as they have nowhere else to go.

Timely support from their employer can help keep a homeless person’s life on track, support their wellbeing, keep them in work and maintain their productivity. Good employment can act as a preventative homelessness measure as well as a sustainable route out of homelessness.

How can your business benefit from employing homeless people?

Kelly Creighton from HR daily adviser explains how working with local organisations to support homeless people helps build positive and lasting relationships within your community:

Hiring homeless people can help develop the skills of existing staff through their involvement in the provision of in-work or pre-employment support to the individual.

Support available for employers

Only a Pavement Away (OAPA) is a charity that was established to help homeless people find employment in the hospitality industry. They do this by linking employers with organisations which exist to support the homeless, as well as ex-offenders and vulnerable veterans. A centralised free jobs board exists for prospective hospitality industry employers on which to place their vacancies.

Each homeless person’s skills are matched to vacancies and training courses provided to qualify for hospitality work. Along with interview preparation and support from industry professionals, the individual receives 12 months of support from OAPA and its partners.

For more information, email

Business in the Community (BITC) is a business-led membership organisation dedicated to responsible business. Their employment programmes enable some of society’s most disadvantaged people to enter work.

Older workers

As an employer it’s worth considering that the retention, retraining and recruitment of older workers can bring a wealth of knowledge and experience. With this can come a range of fresh perspectives, ideas and skills – all of which can benefit your business

What are other businesses doing?

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) are encouraging older workers to stay in work and develop themselves so they can achieve their full potential and bring an array of skills to the business. This video gives more information about how they do this.

DWP video on the benefits of supporting older workers

Working in a different way can be a good bridge into retirement for individuals and offering flexible working can be a good way for you to keep their valuable skills and experience.

Find out how Lorraine and her employer have found the perfect balance.

Fuller working lives

By having a series of supportive conversations, your employees can be clear and confident about how to shape their future at work. The Business in the Community toolkit provides a practical resource to help you do this, allowing you to retain great workers by supporting their needs.

Video of industry experts advising on the importance of older workers

Further information

Ageing better provide helpful tips on supporting older workers and guidance on best practice.

ACAS have guidance on age discrimination in the workplace.

People recovering from drug and alcohol misuse

Why you should support people in recovery

People in recovery from substance misuse have already made the decision to change their lives. That journey required determination, commitment and motivation, qualities which are desirable in any potential employee. Getting and keeping a job is a key priority for many people in recovery and being given an opportunity to use their life experience can encourage high levels of loyalty to a company.

Recruiting from a diverse range of backgrounds can help widen your talent pool and bring a number of benefits to your business. A survey by Business in the Community found that 92% of businesses with open recruitment policies say the approach has enhanced their reputation

If you are looking to recruit, giving someone a chance can result in a loyal, motivated and reliable employee who can often provide a fresh perspective to your business.

Thinking of recruiting?

If you’re thinking about recruiting someone in recovery from drug and alcohol misuse, the following tips might help both them and you:

  • promote a culture of understanding about drug and alcohol misuse in your workplace – it’s important to appreciate that dependence can happen for a variety of reasons
  • offer a regular work pattern as the could be helpful to the individual to help maintain or create routine
  • have a clear drug and alcohol policy in place so all employees know what is expected of them in the workplace
  • people recovering from dependence have decided that they want to put their addiction behind them – and contribute positively to your business

Further information

Further information and support can be offered by these organisations:


Recruiting from a diverse range of backgrounds has a number of business benefits. Considering candidates from a wider talent pool can bring the skills you need to your business.

Ex-offenders are people who will have overcome their own personal challenges and can bring fresh ideas and solutions to problems. Businesses report that employees go the extra mile to secure results, stay with their employer for longer, have a strong commitment to their organisation and lower rates of absenteeism.

And there are real community benefits as well. 79% of people think that businesses employing ex-offenders are making a positive contribution to society. 92% of inclusive employers say it’s enhanced their reputation.

Only 17% of ex-offenders manage to get a job within a year of release, despite 3 out of 4 people saying they would be comfortable buying from a business that employs ex-offenders.

What are other organisations doing?

See how Leigh is making a difference in her job at Halfords:

Video of Leigh’s story working for Halfords

Further information

The New Futures Network (NFN) is a specialist part of the prison service that brokers partnerships between prisons and employers. It will help you to identify the best option for your organisation and find out more from other businesses. More information is available in the NFN Employing Prisoners and Ex-Offenders guide.

You can also find more information from the Ministry of Justice’s Offender Employment campaign.


Jobcentre Plus has a range of recruitment services that can help you as an employer and potential employees, including:

  • work trials are a short period in work you can offer to a jobseeker on benefits – it’s a way for you both to see if the job is a good fit
  • sector-based work academies are designed to help meet employers’ immediate and future recruitment needs, as well as to recruit a workforce with the right skills to sustain and grow their business
  • Access to Work is a specialist disability service from Jobcentre Plus that gives practical advice and support to disabled people – whether they are working, self-employed or looking for employment

Flexible working

Easy Internet - tips to make flexible working work for you

Mark Esho is a British entrepreneur, founder and CEO of Easy Internet Services Ltd. As a small business owner from Leicester who has a workforce spread around the country, he is well placed to pass on his top tips for flexible working.

Different productivity peaks

Everyone is different, certain people peak at different times of the day. It makes business sense to offer some sort of flexible arrangement whereby people can actually work when they’re feeling at their best.

Consider specific needs

Consider the specific needs of disabled people – that flexibility goes a long way in terms of helping them perform at their best.

Designing work schedules

The same applies to parents who have childcare needs, who can design their work schedule around their family obligations.


Flexible working helps improve motivation and work/life balance.

Staff retention

It also helps with staff retention – happy employees equal loyal and motivated employees.

Motivating remote teams

Mark’s top tips:

Effective communication system

I would say my number one tip would be to have effective communication systems setup. This could be by Skype or Zoom or any other channel that allows chat. Working from home can be isolating so being able to chat to someone else during the day is a big help. So as opposed to emailing colleagues or typing your messages just arrange a voice or video chat instead

Virtual tea break

Another thing that works well for our team is to have a chill out session or virtual tea break where we add a group chat via Skype or Zoom. It’s just a general chat. People share jokes and talk about their day and it just serves as an outlet so that people do not feel isolated.

Correct equipment

Having the right systems in place that allows your employees to work comfortably from home is critical. Don’t overlook the important details: make sure they’ve got the right laptop or desktop computer, multiple screens if needed, the right chair to sit on, also look at desk height, the light in the room, etc. Where possible, ensure but they’re not having to use their own computer or telephone system at home.

Regular check ins

Finally, if you’re a line manager, regularly check in on your team to make sure they are okay, and look after their wellbeing.

Maintaining mental wellbeing when working from home

To support social distancing and the fight against COVID-19, the Government has encouraged people to work from home wherever possible, but working remotely had already become increasingly popular in recent years. Some people find the experience very productive but others may need additional support. For some, like those experiencing domestic abuse, being at home can be a terrifying experience and for others it can be very isolating as they are cut off from the friends and social networks they rely on to keep well.

There are some practical steps you can take to ensure your employees’ mental health isn’t negatively impacted when working from home.

Build in time for regular communication

Encourage structured check ins with team members, either one-to-one or as a group. Allow employees a regular opportunity to raise concerns, discuss issues or even just chat with managers and colleagues.

Using the right technology for these meetings can add a lot of value. Video calls can be more engaging, efficient and personal but remember they can also be tiring if individuals have a lot of them throughout the day. Think carefully about the duration of calls and leaving enough time for people to take breaks. Make sure all employees have the right equipment to do their job well and to stay connected with you and their wider team.

Video platforms can be very inclusive, but if you’ve started using them recently, you should be sure to ensure everyone has access to training and support, so that everyone has the same level of confidence to use them.

Be flexible to suit employee needs

It is important to recognise that all your employees may be working in different circumstances, potentially caring for children or other family members and/or home schooling. This may lead to interruptions during meetings, or the need to take extended time away from their workstation during the day. Accepting these disturbances actively lets employees know that you understand their situation, and takes any additional pressure off.

Where possible, consider making adjustments to working hours. This may help employees achieve a better work home life balance, provide the care they need for their family and work more effectively.

Set clear expectations

Many employees will be juggling caring responsibilities alongside work. By being clear with expectations and deliverables, you are giving people the opportunity to plan their own time and help them to manage their workload. Without this, employees may start to feel overwhelmed, or overtired if they work additional hours to compensate. Foster a culture with individuals and among the team to build in recovery time so hours of work are manageable and restoration of capacity can be enabled so work is sustainable.

Encourage healthy behaviours

Eating a balanced diet, maintaining a routine and taking regular breaks are some ways that your employees can take care of their mental and physical health. Share ideas and experiences with your team and give regular reminders of the importance of healthy habits to help everyone achieve a balance that is right for them personally.

Continually review

Situations and feelings are always changing, so be sure to set aside time to ask for feedback, discuss alternatives and implement any necessary changes. Be vigilant to those who may be struggling and may need a bit of extra support. Some links below may help signpost to accessing mental health support.

Additional Support

Visit NHS – Every Mind Matters for guidance and tips about looking after mental health while staying at home.

Mental Health UK have ideas and support for those working from home.

Get advice from Mind about supporting yourself and your team in the current situation.

The Mental Health Support Service delivered by Remploy in partnership with DWP.

Find support from Refuge if you are experiencing domestic abuse.

The British Chambers of Commerce have more tips on working from home.

For more wellbeing advice, visit Business in the Community.

Tips for recruiting

Cera Care – recruiting in social care

Yvonne Hignell, Chief Operating Officer of Cera Care, recently embarked on a UK-wide recruitment drive for 10,000 new carers.

Here’s her top tips for recruiting into the sector:

In the current emergency we’ve seen people who may have never considered working in the care sector, now prepared and willing to do so. Anyone working in the sector knows how important our work is; but it isn’t always easy to convince others, or attract workers, so I’ve put together my top five tips on how to attract and retain the best candidates.

Sell the benefits

There are many varied roles available that can be hugely fulfilling and can really transform people’s lives; these are the messages we need to get across in our recruitment advertising. People also tend to identify with people like them, so using your current workforce to tell their story can be a powerful tactic.

The Department for Health & Social Care has some online resources to help with recruitment in the sector.

Recognise transferable skills

Consider candidates without care experience. People who have worked in customer facing roles, such as retail, hospitality and customer service often have transferrable skills and qualities that will set them up well for a career in care. Think about the career pathways that exist in your organisation and highlight these opportunities to prospective candidates.

Speed up your recruitment process

Streamline your recruitment and on-boarding processes. You could even consider using video interviews. Once you’ve made the decision, get regular induction and training sessions booked in early to get people skilled-up to start as soon as possible. Don’t forget to make sure there’s ongoing support and encouragement for new joiners. Many people who leave the sector do so in their first 90 days.

Provide a warm welcome

People looking for work are more informed than ever about potential employers. If we want to attract and retain the very best people, regular positive communication is key.

Access to a broad talent pool

Finally, to reach the widest possible pool of people, upload your vacancies to the Government Matching Service Find a Job.

If the outbreak of Covid-19 has taught me and my team anything, it’s that the Health and Social Care sector is fundamental to our society and economy, and there will never be a shortage of demand. The onus is now on us, as employers, to be as inclusive and welcoming as we can.

Virtual Recruiting

Rebecca Fielding is the Founder and Managing Director of Gradconsult, and here she provides her top tips for Virtual Recruiting and Onboarding.

tips for virtual recruiting video

Supporting health and wellbeing

Now more than ever, it is important to pay close attention to the health and wellbeing of your employees. Whether you have employees worried about redundancy or getting to grips with working from home for the first time, it can be challenging at the moment, for many reasons.

Health and wellbeing

During this period of uncertainty, don’t forget to keep up to date on the latest advice on health and safety and general coronavirus (COVID-19) advice for employers and employees.

Access to Work Mental Health Support Service

This confidential service delivered by Remploy is funded by DWP and is available at no charge to any employees with depression, anxiety, stress or other mental health issues affecting their work.

Disabilities and health conditions

Some of your staff may have disabilities or health conditions that might be affected by working in different ways – it’s important to check in.

Access to Work may be able to help with practical and financial support for employees with a disability or long term physical or mental health condition. This might be useful in helping someone who now needs to work from home.

The Disability Confident and CIPD guide offers wider advice about employing people with a disability or health condition.

Sickness and absences

There’s a range of advice available about claiming back Statutory Sick Pay paid to employees due to COVID-19.

You can also direct your employees to guidance for those who cannot work. This includes information about financial support available, along with how to manage isolation and Statutory Sick Pay.

Published 14 August 2020
Last updated 26 November 2020 + show all updates
  1. Added Access to Work information under Disability Confident.

  2. Added 'Access to Work Mental Health Support Service' and 'Other helpful links and resources' information to the 'Supporting health and wellbeing' section of the guidance.

  3. First published.