Background Screening or Finger Crossing: Which Should You Rely On?

employment background checksLet’s face it. We all want to trust the people we choose to hire. And it sure would be nice to avoid the time and expense of running employment background checks on each and every employee for each and every position. But sadly, we just don’t have that luxury in today’s litigious world.

One University Chooses Trust Over Background Screening:

According to a recent article in the university’s independent student newspaper, not all student employees undergo background checks due to ‘overwhelming cost and effort’ involved in doing so. While some student employees are screened, many are not; including those handling cash at the university bookstore and those preparing food and operating cash registers for food services. The article also points out that while the campus transportation system will not hire anyone with even a single ticket in their background drivers are allowed to remain employed until they receive more than 2 tickets during their employment period.

“We’ve been very lucky”

The best part of the article, in my mind, is a quote from the bookstore director. He says, “We’ve been very lucky with the people we’ve hired.” And here’s another remarkable quote from the director of food services, “Food Services does everything in their power to provide food for campus in a safe and secure environment.” (He may have wanted to add, well, everything except for background screening our employees.)

What happens when luck runs out?

Now let me ask you this: If you ran a retail shop or a restaurant on a college campus, where there is a real or at least perceived obligation to create a safe environment for students and co-workers, wouldn’t you think background screening employees would be important? Wouldn’t you want to know for sure if someone you’re about to hire has something in their background that would make them unfit for the role?

And what do you think is going to happen if you’re a university director and one of your student employees harms another student? And what if their behavior was something you SHOULD have been able to predict based on something that could have been uncovered with a simple background check? Do you think the parents of the victim are going to be real pleased to hear you say, “we’ve been very lucky with the people we’ve hired?” Um… I don’t think so.

Then there’s that duty of reasonable care.

I think sometimes employers forget that they have an actual legal obligation to take reasonable care in the hiring process. Background screening is one valuable way to demonstrate reasonable care.

Whether hiring a cashier, a driver, a warehouse worker, a sales rep, or a temporary shelf-stocker, the plain truth is that it’s better to spend the average $29 upfront on a basic background check than it is to be sued for negligent hiring after that employee makes a catastrophic or even minor mistake that ends up hurting another person.

When we have a “good feeling” about someone and when we haven’t had any problems in the past, it’s tempting to continue on with the status quo and forgo background screening – especially for those low risk positions. But why take the chance? Unless you just like to gamble. BTW, try getting a gaming license without a background check!

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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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