Don’t Be That Guy: Holding Out on Employment Background Checks
January 5, 2015
When we started EmployeeScreenIQ 15 years ago, we heard a lot of reasons about why a company wasn’t conducting employment background checks on their job candidates. I’m happy to tell you that it is a rarity these days that we talk with someone who needs to be convinced of their importance. The practice has become so mainstream that after our second annual background screening trends survey in 2011, we stopped asking HR professionals if they screen their candidates. The number peaked at 92%.
Still, I’ve scratched my head for years wondering, who are the 8% that are holding out? My initial assumption was that these were smaller businesses without the wherewithal or resources to engage a background screening company. And that assumption might be correct, but I keep learning that’s not always the case.
Who are the 8%?
Earlier this year on a flight to Vancouver, I sat next to the CEO of a Hollywood production company who employs 300 people. He told me that everybody knows everybody in Hollywood and that background checks were intrusions into the lives of his candidates. After some conversation about the potential risks, he asked if I would speak to his HR director. I figured it was a blow off, but she actually called me back. We still haven’t finalized everything, but I’m pretty confident we’ll have a new client before too long. Score one for Mr. Background Check!
Shocking Confession from a CEO
A couple weeks after that, I had dinner with some friends. One my friends brought a friend of his who is the CEO of a 15,000 employee operation. We had a great conversation and I learned that he basically built this ultra-successful niche business from the ground up in less than 20 years. Of course, I steered the conversation toward employee background checks. Imagine that!
He shared something with me that I have heard before but never from a business of this size. They don’t do background checks. Come on, maybe I heard that wrong. Really? He told me that his workforce was highly blue collar and if they did screen their candidates, he wouldn’t be able to hire any one.
When I pulled my jaw off the table, I explained that just because someone has a criminal record doesn’t mean you can’t hire them. I shared with him that we have a similar-sized client with a similar employee base and they literally hire people as soon as they are released from jail. They still conduct background checks though because there are some crimes they just can’t ignore.
He told me that he had evaluated it in the past and while they have had incidents, they preferred to self-insure when faced with the risk of not having the people they need to operate the business.
I know when to give up—kind of. Instead of asking about the rank and file, I asked what they do for managers and corporate level employees. Again, crickets. Well, at that point I think I turned into a used car salesman. In fact, we both laughed about it after he heard me out.
So, the moral of the story is that after 15 years, there are still businesses out there that need convincing that employment background checks are not just a fad. They protect businesses, employees, and customers. They insulate employment from multi-million dollar negligent hiring suits.
The second moral of the story is that I intend to make it my 2015 mission to convince my new friend that it is time to exit the cave.
Happy New Year!