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The First Handshake

At the FLA we often stress the critical importance of ‘the first handshake’.


By this we mean being the first link in the chain between a migrant job seeker and their eventual employer.


We also mean that, if employed in a ‘client facing’ role, the worker will often be the first person that a customer encounters, making them a key brand ambassador.


In this short article, Tristan Forster, CEO and founder of FSI Worldwide expands on the ‘first handshake’ concept.


As discussed in a previous article, oftentimes unlicensed sub agents are the first point of contact for migrant job seekers. This first exchange is critical and unfortunately it is where ‘debt bondage’ exploitation frequently begins. At this stage, potential recruits might be given incomplete or incorrect information about a job opportunity. Under the false premise of decent work, agents require that recruits pay a sizable deposit, of which most recruits are unable to immediately front, and so ensues debt bondage.


If corruption cannot be intercepted at this critical point, companies and governments are condemned simply to try and remedy the inherent defects in a now corrupt system. It is for this reason that ‘the first handshake’ is such an important juncture in dictating whether the overseas employment will empower and enrichen the worker, or lead to exploitation.


When done by ethical recruiters, the ‘first handshake’ leads to an open, transparent and accountable recruitment process. Recruits are selected on merit, skills tested and only offered jobs if they are fit for service. In turn, recruits have accurate and honest information by which they can choose to undertake employment.


Those who are successful are provided copies of their contract (not a generic) in their own language clearly setting out the terms of the job. Furthermore, recruits are then guided through the various government processes and provided welfare support explaining the challenges, as well as the opportunities, associated with overseas work. They are then guided and protected through the stages of deployment, and on arrival in the destination country are taken through the client ‘onboarding’ process and helped to settle into their role. This results in a win-win as workers gain access to a job that meets their unique skills, needs, and desires, and companies hire staff who are appropriately skilled and prepared for the role.


How the first handshake is made has implications for both workers and companies. When done with transparency and accountability, this process provides both parties with significant positive benefits. Workers have the freedom to choose employment, access redress should it be necessary, and retain full control of their earnings. This prevents one of the most common forms of exploitation from occurring. Additionally, employers benefit by gaining longer-term and often, more productive, employees, as well as avoiding serious human rights or reputational concerns.


By ensuring that the terms under which ‘the first handshake’ is conducted are transparent and fair, opportunities for exploitation can be dramatically reduced. The FLA is committed to helping companies implement practical steps designed to increase transparency, quality, and fairness throughout the recruitment and employment process.