One Company’s Stalwart Ministry

Nehemiah has a Biblical ring to it, yet the Nehemiah Manufacturing Co. in Cincinnati, Ohio, doesn’t produce Bibles but a variety of household products, along with second chances for many of its workers.  The Wall Street Journal introduced many of us to Nehemiah recently under the headline “The Company of Second Chances”.

Another way of putting it is that, along with Downy and Febreze, Nehemiah deals in fairness. Workers with criminal records “make up around 80% of the company’s 180 employees,” the Journal reported. The staff includes a social-service worker “to helo employes with anything from finding housing to staying clean.”

How many companies have employees who have issues that may bear on their job performance but keep them to themselves? Probably a lot, but do they minister to them? Not very likely.

“Nehemiah’s hiring process typically includes q session with a member of the social service team who scrutinizes applicants’ histories and current support systems,” The Journal reports. “Applicants also sign a release that allows the team to contact the agencies that provide them with housing, drug treatment or other support.”

If this sounds like meddling in a job applicant’s life, it’s intended to bolster their prospects for holding a job and staying straight along the way. This caring approach my be catching on The Journal notes in a sidebar story on Nehemiam that “has tried to help other Cincinnati companies open their workforces to those with criminal pasts,” a role it had until this fall “when Nehemia handed the job to Cincinnati Works, a nonprofit.”

A relational approach to hiring and supervising employees isn’t only fair but is in everyone’s interest and should be standard among enlightened managements. It increases everyone’s chances of succeeding in trying times.

At a previous job, one employee “was escorted off the premises by armed guards after the company determined he had lied about his past.” On his first day at Nehemia, the company’s chief executive shook his hand.

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