As attitudes about hiring people with criminal records continue to change among employers, you may be wondering about the other group of people impacted by these hiring decisions: employees.

While your employees probably don’t get a final say in whether you hire people with criminal histories, their opinions are certainly important when it comes to things like employee morale and retention. So, are employees warming up to the idea of working with people with a record?

Employees’ Attitudes About Working with People with Criminal Histories

According to a recent survey conducted by SHRM, the answer is yes — depending on the type of conviction a person had.

The survey, which polled about 1,000 people across the U.S., found almost 75% would be comfortable working for an employer knowing that some of their colleagues had nonviolent criminal records.

That number dropped drastically when asked about violent criminal records. Only about 33% of those surveyed would be comfortable working with colleagues who had violent backgrounds.

These results show employees are generally willing to give people a second chance but may not be as accepting if they think the candidate might put them in harm’s way.

Why Should You Consider Hiring Someone with A Criminal Background?

If you’re one of the many employers considering opening up their employment opportunities to those with criminal records, you might wonder if it’s really worth it.

The truth is there are plenty of great reasons to hire someone with a rougher background. Aside from the potential feel-good effects of giving someone a second chance, there are programs in place to help reduce the risk of hiring former convicts (like insurance bonds offered by the U.S. government) and even provide financial benefits (like salary reimbursements and tax credits). You can learn more about these and other benefits here.

Even if You Hire Candidates with Criminal Histories, Background Checks are Still Important

Even though there are a lot of great reasons to consider hiring former criminals, it’s still critical to do your research. After all, you don’t know what you don’t know — and you need to know your candidate’s background, even if you’re more than happy to hire someone with a criminal past.

A thorough background check will alert you to each candidate’s full criminal history — critical for determining the level of risk your organization can tolerate.

For example, if a background check finds that your candidate is a sex offender and your organization works with kids, they should be disqualified from working at your company. However, if you find your candidate was charged with possessing marijuana, your organizational risk is significantly lower. While that information could cause you to reconsider if they are qualified for a safety-sensitive position, you might discover you’re okay with that risk — or have another non-safety-sensitive position that they could excel in.

No matter how open your employees are to the idea of hiring people with criminal records or what your hiring risk tolerance is, you should always make hiring decisions using thorough, verified information.