A Publication of WTVP

I think of January as a month of renewal and new beginnings. January is a time when we get to start fresh. It's the month to make resolutions to improve ourselves and, in this case, our people practices.

People are at the heart of every organization, and, as the saying goes, they can make you or break you. This is particularly true if you aren't practicing safe hiring. What's safe hiring? It's the process you go through to minimize the risk of negligent hiring and to improve retention.

Did you know 33 percent of employees admit to stealing a product or money from jobs in the last three years? It's estimated 30 percent of business failures are directly related to employee theft. In addition, the cost of hiring, training, and then terminating one employee can be very expensive. According to William M. Mercer, Inc., turnover costs a minimum of $10,000; 20 percent of respondents indicated turnover costs exceed $20,000. Without taking some measure to ensure safe hiring, it's a statistical certainty that you'll make a costly mistake.

Negligent hiring litigation is a growing problem. Employers lose 79 percent of all negligent hiring suits, and the average jury plaintiff award in employment law cases continues to be in excess of $1.6 million. Damages are awarded against employers because of the employer's negligence and failure to perform a reasonable search into the employee's background prior to hiring.

Small employers may think they're immune to negligent hiring lawsuits because they don't have deep pockets, but that's a myth. Listed below are a few simple steps you can take to practice to safe hiring practices:

  • Have every applicant fill out an employment application. Employment applications should ask about criminal records in the broadest possible terms allowed by law.
  • Have each job applicant sign a consent form for a background check including a check for criminal records, past employment, and education. It may discourage applicants with something to hide and encourage applicants to be truthful about past mistakes.
  • Verify past employment. This is probably the single most important tool for an employer. While it may be difficult to get in-depth information on an applicant, it's important to verify dates of employment and job title.
  • Do a criminal background check-at least in the county of residence.
  • If the person has a criminal record, you shouldn't automatically exclude the person from employment without first determining whether there's a sound business reason, based upon the nature of the offense and the nature of the job.

With the new year comes the new opportunity to do the "right things." Why not start with safe hiring practices? IBI