Address Your Risks with Employee Screening

We recently posted an article on the topic of “Evaluating Human Capital Risk.”  While we had high hopes this article would draw thousands of readers from the HR community, it appears to have done little more than satisfy our own intrinsic need to preach the benefits of employment screening as a human capital risk management tool. Judging by the numbers, you’d rather hear about resume lying than risk management. Ok, our bad.

But really, we understand your desire to get down to business. You know you need employment screening services to reduce the chances of falling victim to even a single poorly-qualified, unsafe, or otherwise unscrupulous employee.

One only needs to read the latest news to find stories about what happens when human capital risks rear their ugly heads:

  • Neglecting to background check an oil spill cleanup workers meant a sex offender got a job, and later was accused of raping a colleague: read about it
  • A school board in Illinois was embarrassed to learn that one of its board members was discovered to have a DUI on his driving record. read about it
  • Bausch & Lomb CEO, Ronald Zarrella, falsely claimed an MBA from New York University’s Stern School of Business. He did attend the program, but never earned his MBA. His claim was never checked by his prior employers.  Read these other infamous resume lies.
  • Examples like these go on and on…

So how do you build a background screening program that addresses the risks your employees bring to the table, while at the same time respecting the fact that your employees are the single most important factor in your success and should therefore be treated fairly? We’ve said before that knowing your risks is half the battle. And it’s true. Knowing really is only half the battle. The other half is determining how you’ll use employment screening to combat the risks and build yourself a safer and more productive workforce.

So let’s look at how employment screening is used by considering 3 sample scenarios:

Scenario 1:  Retail Security

You’re a retail security manager charged with loss prevention. You rely on technology and people to get the job done. Currently you are establishing the background screening methodology for all undercover loss prevention officers. These individuals will have largely unsupervised access to people and property, they must have at least five years of relevant security experience, and your company has a strict drug-free workplace policy.  Once you’ve assessed the basic risk profile (industry, characteristics of the roles, and requirements of the position) you’re ready to determine what type of background checks are necessary.

In this case, a social security locator would be used to determine the jurisdictions in which the individual has lived. This will help to define the geographic coverage of the background check.  Next, a national criminal records database search will assist in finding potential criminal history in various parts of the country.  The results of this search will also guide further background screening.  A sex offender registry search is also prudent for this individual who will be in contact with the public.  A local criminal records search should also be conducted in jurisdictions where the applicant has lived over the past 7 years and where, if applicable, a national criminal record appeared (national records MUST be verified at the local level).  Also, employment verification would be in order since work experience is required. Finally, an employment drug test would be necessary to comply with drug free workplace standards

Scenario 2: Pharmaceutical Courier

You run a courier company that has been contracted by a major pharmaceutical company to transport prescription drugs.  As part of your contract, you are required to conduct an appropriate background check on all drivers. These individuals will have unsupervised access to prescription medication and operate a vehicle as part of their work.  The risk profile of this position demands that you take significant care in the hiring process.

At a minimum, this position would require a social security locator to determine the jurisdictions in which the individual has lived. Next, a national criminal records database search to locate potential criminal history in various parts of the country.  The results of this search will also guide further screening at the local level.  A sex offender registry search is also prudent for this individual who will be in contact with the public.  A local criminal records search should also be conducted in jurisdictions where the applicant has lived over the past 7 years and in areas where a national criminal record has appeared. Next, a driver’s record search should be conducted to ensure a safe driving record. And an employment drug test would likely be advised for this position.

Scenario 3: VP of Operations

You are the vice president of human resources and your boss, the CEO, has just asked you to begin looking for a new VP of operations. This individual will have access to production numbers, profit and loss responsibility, have some investor relations duties, and is clearly in a position of trust. With a view of the risks in mind, your screening methodology would include, at minimum, the following:

  • Social security locator to verify where the individual has resided (you’ll want to conduct local criminal checks in these locations).
  • National criminal records search to identify other jurisdictions where potential criminal activity may be found.
  • Sex offender registry search, for obvious reasons.
  • Local criminal records in jurisdictions where the individual has resided over the past 7 years and to verify activity discovered in a national database search.
  • Federal criminal records search based on a 7 year address history to uncover any activity at the federal level (different from what the local court system deals with).
  • Social media search because, for example, you probably don’t want to hire the lady who threw a cat in the trash can for this position.
  • Civil criminal records search to uncover potential “white collar” criminal activity.
  • Education verification to verify the credentials of the individual.
  • Employment verification to verify the individual’s reported employment background and past performance.
  • Drug screening to avoid substance abuse-related issues in the workplace.
  • Credit check, since the individual will have finance-related responsibilities.

First, Assess. Then, Address.

It is widely known that employees present the single most significant source of risk AND reward to most, if not all, organizations. Workplace productivity, employee turnover, absenteeism, employee theft, workplace safety, customer satisfaction, and corporate brand image (to name a few) are all influenced and to a large extent driven by human capital (people). Clearly people can be the source of great competitive advantage or the source of a company’s demise.

You can see by the scenarios above that the process is: (1) assess the risk and (2) address the risk.  Doing so will help you build a logical screening program to bring the right people in, the first time.

To build a better background screening program for your organization, request a meeting with our background screening experts or open an account today.

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Note: This content, as with all content on this website, is purely informational. It may not be construed as legal advice. Please direct legal questions to your legal counsel.

About Michael Gaul

A security industry professional since 1988, Michael has extensive expertise in the fields of human capital risk management, physical security, and background screening process management. Michael leads Proforma’s sales, marketing, and strategic customer relations efforts.
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