Importance of Employee Background Checks

Sep 29, 2017

Importance of Background Checks

You already take precautionary steps when hiring new employees; this week, we want to walk you through why employee background checks should be one of them. And while vetting a job candidate on Facebook and other social media profiles can be a great idea, it’s not enough (plus there are rules and regulations to consider when doing so). Check out the top six reasons why a professional background check is not only important but should be implemented as a non-negotiable practice at your place of business!

1. Employee Safety

Your staff’s safety should be at the top of your list when taking background checks into consideration. If this important step is skipped and someone with a threatening criminal record is hired without your knowledge, you could be placing your entire workforce - and anyone who enters your workplace - at risk. This can affect both employee morale and future ability to retain great candidates.

Pro tip: Offer workplace violence training regularly so that employees feel prepared with how to handle difficult situations.

2. Risk & Liability

Not only can the threat of violence be a concern, but if someone is harmed on your watch, you are now liable for those actions. Negligent hiring lawsuits are real, and they are also on the rise. A Texas death in 2015 might have been prevented if a background check had been run, as the guilty party had pulled a gun on co-workers on multiple occasions at previous places of employment. He’d also been arrested for carrying illegal weapons, among other crimes. A background check would have revealed these things but, instead, a man was killed and a jury awarded one million dollars in the lawsuit.

Pro tip: Background checks are not reserved only for new employees, but can be conducted on volunteers and existing employees (transfers, promotions, etc.) as well.

3. Workplace Scandal

Scandal is not just a show on TV, but a real threat to your business. C-level employees and directors are typically at risk for the highest scrutiny. San Francisco based ride service Uber is a well-known example of workplace scandal and, due to sexual harassment claims (among others), their CEO is now taking a leave of absence.

The New York Times collected this reaction to Uber’s CEO departure from the City of Austin’s Communications Director, Jason Stanford, “Last year, local voters approved a ballot measure requiring ride-hailing services like Uber to conduct fingerprint-based background checks.”

In addition to losing their CEO and co-founder, Uber employees have been fired, executives have resigned (leaving a gaping hole in leadership), lawyers have gotten involved and now the company faces major internal change and reputation control. It’s a demoralizing incident that was preventable, especially when employees claimed to have made complaints in prior years.

Pro tip: Encourage employees to feel safe in reporting misconduct to Human Resources. Then, follow through when they do.

4. Reputation Control

Workplace infractions go beyond employee harm and financial damages but can have lasting effects on your company’s reputation as well. It can be a PR nightmare according to a member of Uber’s board of directors,

“‘We’re in a reputational deficit, and it’s going to take us a while to get out of this,’ Mr. Gurley, a venture capitalist at Benchmark, said to Uber’s employees. ‘We have to hold ourselves accountable to a higher bar.’”

Pro tip: Hiring a reputation management company may be in your best interest, but preventing it from happening in the first place is in your better interest.

5. Falsified Credentials

The requirements of any job are typically broken down into must-haves and nice-to-haves. If you hire multiple employees for the same role, and it later discovered that one or more did not meet required qualifications for the job, you will likely have trouble on your hands. Not only will this be perceived as a violation of personal rights (since some job candidates would not have been considered for the job due to a lack of credentials), but trust with those who gave fraudulent credentials will now be depleted.

Pro tip: Combine your job candidates and background checks in one place for efficient hiring. Ask us about our applicant tracking software!

6. Federal and State Law

It is important for you to know the laws pertaining specifically to your business. There are certain fields in which most states will require background checks, such as childcare and healthcare. State and federal jobs often require them as well.

Legalities to consider when hiring a company to conduct your background investigations:

Pro tip: Educate yourself state laws for the states in which you employ people, and be sure to utilize a company that adheres to all state, federal, FCRA and EEOC guidelines.

Considering the numerous costly results of not taking precautionary measures, the decision to implement a new workplace policy of conducting background checks on 100% of job applicants seems negligible. We urge you to consider this added layer of protection for your business and the people in it. Contact us for more information on our pre-employment, drug testing and tenant screening services, all of which can be managed online!

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