People risk’s wide spectrum

May 2013 Security Services & Risk Management

Sometimes commonsense statements are more logical than we give them credit for. When authorities began to wonder why motor car crashes killed so many people on our roads, or why there were so many deaths by guns in our society, someone pointed out that neither cars nor guns kill people, the people driving the cars or wielding the gun did the actual killing. The rationale: cars and guns do not kill people, people kill people. So the real risk in having cars and guns around was the people using them.

And so the logical solution to the awful carnage on our roads and criminal acts by armed perpetrators is simply to remove them from the equation. If only it were that simple. How do you tell, simply by looking or even talking to them, that these are the ones who can be armed felons, or are lunatics behind the wheel? The truth is that you cannot, and the result is that they are on our roads and on the prowl, and life is a gamble whether or not you have the misfortune to encounter them and often pay the price. But the risk element has been made less of a threat in other areas.

There was a time when something similar prevailed for the employer. Unprepared and unequipped to deal with the chancers and the dishonest job seekers the hirer had to trust his instincts and the qualifications, references and certification presented by the applicant, along with the hope that what he or she had written on the application form was not a work of fiction. Today, improved technique and developments in equipment that can expose deception are making human resource management a more scientific and reliable science. Such tools in the hands of trained professionals can make all the difference in the proficiency with which screening companies are able to remove the people risk.

“Of course, dishonesty is not the only challenge faced by interviewers, and in South Africa, categorised as an emerging country with the attendant issues associated with the term, a raft of other issues must be placed in the ‘risk basket’ to be carefully evaluated,” notes iFacts security and screening company chief, Jenny Reid. “This is a complex region, cosmopolitan in the cities and homogenous in the rural districts where such big employers as mines and agricultural developments seek employees in a wide variety of levels. Different, often conflicting, factors come into play and must be dealt with to the satisfaction of both employee and employer.”

People risk index

The ‘People Risk Index’ study by researcher Aon Hewitt at People Matters, a knowledge and media platform in the human resources space, places these risks in three main categories: risks associated with hiring, such as demographics and access to skilled talent pools; risks associated with employing people, such as government intervention; and risks associated with redeploying people, such as labour relations and employment practices.

The People Risk Index considers only those risks extrinsic to the business and which are out of the range of control of the organisation. The first element related to people is the risk of recruitment, from finding the right people to not being able to develop them because they do not have the right education. The second type of risks are those related to employment. Once you employ the person, there are restrictions on how to manage them and risks of costs associated with employment like regulatory benefits. Finally, the third type of risks are redeployment risks, like for example, labour regulatory restrictions.

The situation is skewed however because other people-specific risks prevail for companies, like the lack of qualified candidates, low literacy rates and inadequate infrastructure for training and development.

“Applicant screening is an absolute imperative in the employment process,” says Reid, “and it should not stop at the application and interview stage. Companies are finding the cost effectiveness of employee screening of staff that have not already been through the process, those who have been on the payroll for a considerable time and those who are leaving the company.”

For more information contact iFacts, +27 (0)82 600 8225,


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