Why Pre-Employment Screening May Be the Best Investment You Make

by | 27 Jun, 2017

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How important is pre-employment screening to your business? People are the backbone of any company, its growth and success determined by the day-to-day work of individuals. When people who work well together focus on a common goal, they become a team. When they don’t, growth becomes so much harder.

Around three-to-four percent of the American workforce turns over each month. Significant costs are associated with hiring and replacing employees. Losing productivity can cost even more still. When employees turn over and over again, the costs multiply.

Employees are investments for the future success of your organization. But earning a return requires time and patience. That’s why spending the necessary time to screen job applicants, not only for red-flag factors such as arrests, drug use, and misrepresentations on their resumés but also for the right cultural fit, is so important to building a team with great potential.  

Applicant screening is about identifying a candidate’s abilities, goals, and values.

A good resumé is only the first hurdle. Many job candidates who easily pass muster on paper may still not be a good fit for your company.

How is their work ethic? Timeliness, adaptability, and attention to detail? What are their expectations and values and are those a match for your company?

Covering these topics during the interview process in addition to basic questions such as education, skills and work experience helps to paint a nuanced picture of candidates, lending insight into how they may interact with existing employees.

Documenting culture and vision helps businesses and workers see eye to eye.

Before a business can find what it wants in a new hire, it must first understand its own needs. Those that take the time to define themselves can then identify the qualities their perfect candidates should possess beyond skills and qualifications.

For example, is working well on a team crucial to success at your company? If so, then perhaps you’d like to know whether your candidate prefers to work remotely. Retaining such a person over a long period of time may require the company to adopt new communications methods and allow flex time. Is that a goal the whole company can get behind?

RELATED: 7 Cost-Effective Ways Boston Businesses Can Increase Employee Retention

Left unaddressed, questions like these may have different answers throughout an organization. Documenting culture and values in your onboarding materials can unify disparate departments behind a single vision.

Such materials might include:

  • A statement of value: What are the hallmarks of an ideal employee at your business? Is he humble, charismatic, altruistic? Does he go out of his way to help others? If friendliness and accountability are the main traits you need from your employees, then your recruiters need to know what to look for. Detailing these qualities in a document equips your staff to measure candidates less-tangible qualities upon standardized criteria.  
  • Detailed job descriptions: A list of duties and required skills are useful when posting a vacancy, but its value doesn’t end there. Needs change, and so do roles. For businesses and employees to be on the same page, that page has to change when the job does.
  • Knowledge development plans and training policies: Your new hire may be a perfect fit — for the moment. But what are her plans for the future? What are your plans for her? To retain great people for the long haul, it helps when both employer and employee agree on what that future will look like.
  • Cultural Evaluations: What makes your company special? Do you encourage creativity? Worker wellness? Do you work late and play hard, or do you punch the clock early and send staff on home ahead of the traffic? Setting the right expectations lets employees know what they’re getting into.

Cover your pre-screening bases by running standard background checks.

Few people appreciate having their private lives scrutinized, but a person’s history informs who they’ve become and how they are likely to behave in the future. While not strictly necessary, screening has proven its value time and again:   

  • Criminal record checks: If employees with convictions harm a client, customer or coworker and the business neglected to run a criminal background check before bringing them on,  the company could possibly be held liable for damages under the doctrine of negligent hiring. Although “ban the box” legislation prevents employers in some states and municipalities from inquiring into criminal history, most can still run such checks after making a provisional offer of employment.
  • Drug tests: Many companies test candidates for illegal substances, and for good reason. Pre-hire drug screenings may be essential in industries where workplace safety is important, such as manufacturing or construction. For companies who consider drug use a moral issue, screening enables them to eliminate some candidates who may not share their values. Drug testing laws differ by state, so consult an expert before implementing a policy.

Evaluating employees throughout their first several months is critical to assure the right fit.

Once you’ve hired a new employee, the vetting process doesn’t end there. A probationary period of 90 days is customary and allows a company to see whether its new-hire will meet expectations.

Constant communication is crucial, especially during the first few months. Checking in often to see how employees are performing their job duties and making appropriate adjustments early can resolve small issues before they become major problems.

Businesses that spend extra time reviewing the work of new employees can gain insight into areas that require additional focus. Those few extra moments of attention at the beginning of a job placement can have major effects on the long-term success of those just starting out at your workplace.

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Tom DiSilva
Tom DiSilva has been providing professional human resource services for over 30 years. As the CEO of Navigate PEO, he actively partners with organizations of all sizes in the Greater New England area and across the country to help their businesses grow. He has expertise in HR and Labor Management, offering guidance and support for key areas of business such as negotiations, operations management, employee coaching, and employee benefits design. . He is an active member of The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), The National Association of Professional Employer Organizations (NAPEO), Professional Association of Co-Employers (PACE), and The American Payroll Association (APA). He is deeply committed to giving back to the community both personally and through Navigate Cares, which provides support for several nonprofit organizations such as the USO, The Boys & Girls Club, and the 3Point Foundation.

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Disclaimer: this article does not represent expert advice and is provided for informational purposes. Please get in touch if you would like expert HR advice.