The importance of employee screening

August 2009 Security Services & Risk Management, Retail (Industry)

GriffithsReid presented a series of presentations at IFSEC SA on the topic of employee screening.

Jenny Reid started the presentations with the topic 'Does your employee screening policy stand the test of time' by referring to the 2009 KPMG Integrity Survey.

Highlights of the survey showed that 74% of companies experienced misconduct, 59% of people believe they will do whatever it takes to achieve success, and 5% believe they will be rewarded for their wrong doings.

Reid says that these statistics are a clear indication that effective employee screening is crucial, and that means pre-employment and while they are on the job. The areas employers need to verify include:

* Education qualifications.

* References.

* Past employment record.

* Educational qualifications.

* Personal information.

Accomplishing efficient screening requires a specific set of capabilities and is traditionally outsourced, because of the skill required to do them correctly. Professionals are simply better at background screening for:

* Criminal records.

* Credit checks.

* ID.

* Drivers licences, etc.

Even when using a professional service, the ability to effectively check certain details, such as previous employment that the individual may not want to tell prospective employers about is difficult. Screening is not a big-budget item in most companies. However, more industries are starting to cooperate and share databases of employees (including previous employees and why they left), to assist each other in reducing exposure to criminals.

The Consumer Goods Council’s Selma Black continued this thought in her presentation, highlighting how the database managed by the CGC is gaining increased acceptance and acknowledgement from the retail industry.

Reid also suggests using integrity tests, such as polygraphs, voice testing and even graphology to ensure staff are above board. It may take time and money, and changing certain aspects in employment contracts, but far less than dealing with theft, fraud and productivity sapping behaviour. Contractual changes are important to ensure effective integrity screening.

To ensure effective screening, it must have the buy-in of all staff, including contractors. More importantly, as highlighted in the legal presentation by Sean Snyman, the process must be 100% legally correct, and there are ways to do this and the legal precedents have been set.

So what benefits does the business get out of effective screening? Reid lists the following:

* Enhance productivity.

* Lower employee turnover.

* Protect assets and better control employee theft.

* Ensure employees’ sense of security and peace of mind.

* Avoid workplace accidents.

* Limit insurance cost increases.

* Control absenteeism.

* Contain healthcare costs.

* Protect against negligent hiring lawsuits.

In summing up, Reid referred to Grant Thornton’s Employment Growth Index (EGI) for 2009. The report states that 25% of businesses will be worse off in 2009, 21% of businesses plan to offer no pay rise in 2009 and 3% of businesses expect to reduce pay. In already tough economic times, these figures can be the final push for certain employees to look for easy ways to boost their income if their employers are not prepared.

For more information contact Jenny Reid, +27(0)11 786 8556, jenny@griffithsonline.co.za.

It is all in the wording

LabourNet’s Sean Snyman followed with a presentation on the legalities of screening. Snyman said there are privacy laws protecting workers, but that proper preparations on the part of employers can ensure their screening processes are legal and will stand up in court.

The contract of employment is therefore a critical piece of the puzzle and must be crafted carefully. For example, with respect to polygraph testing, if the employment contract does not specifically deal with the issue, employees have the right to refuse to undergo the procedure without any inference being made in terms of their guilt.

For more information contact www.labournet.co.za.

FMCG employee database

The Consumer Goods Council’s Selma Black followed with an overview of the CGC Crime Prevention Programme as well as the group’s Employer’s Reference Site. The site is a central register of employment records that allows participating employers to access accurate work histories of people employed in the FMCG industry.

Black says it is common for candidate employees not to include their total employment history in applications. However, employers are entitled to all facts material to the possible employment of candidates interviewed, and the site assists in delivering this information. The database contains the factual history of the movement of people within the industry and is updated monthly to allow for accurate reference checks – a necessary requirement given that 40% of résumés contain inaccurate information.

For more information contact Consumer Goods Council, 0861 101 726.

Automated integrity checking

Moegamed Flashman, from Flashman & Associates ended the presentations with an introduction to the LVA-i, an automated and unbiased integrity/risk assessment system, based on Nemesysco’s Layered Voice Analysis (LVA) technology. LVA-i is designed to validate the integrity and the values of candidates while maximising the cost effectiveness and timelines of the recruitment process.

The system measures the emotional content in the voice of the applicant as he/she answers a series of questions. It is not meant to replace the personal interview, but supports the interview and screening process by focusing on relevant topics.

For more information contact Flashman & Associates, +27 (0)83 786 1468, msf@voiceriskwatch.co.za.





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