Posts Tagged ‘reducing business costs’

Creating a Better Background Check for Your Business

Thursday, October 15th, 2015
Kevin von der Lippe, Private Investigator

Kevin von der Lippe, Private Investigator

The following post is from CAI’s Kevin von der Lippe. He serves as CAI’s private investigator and leads the company’s Background Checking department.

Most companies do some sort of “background check” on their new hires — But most of the time… you get what you pay for.  How can you be sure that you are getting accurate information you actually need to make a good hiring decision?

The Basics

Performing a background check is your opportunity to independently verify the information that your applicant has provided.  Given the importance of the task, the verification process should extend beyond their stated skill set, and include even the most basic information such as the applicant’s name, address history, and vital statistics.  Be aware, product names for these type of searches may vary, but many companies refer to them as “SSN traces, address histories, or name histories.”

With a verified name and address history in hand, you now have the name/names to search for criminal history as well as the jurisdiction(s) to do so. The availability of criminal records varies among states.  To ensure that you are getting the most up-to-date information, CAI recommends that you request criminal records that are pulled directly from official repositories (e.g. courthouses).  Some states, like North Carolina, have excellent statewide indexes administered by the court system.  However, some other states lack the technology, or access to do so.  As a result, many background checking companies sell database products under names like “Nationwide Criminal, National Criminal or Multi-State Criminal records,” but it’s important to know that most of these databases are from a third-party collection of criminal records, not an actual courthouse. While database searches CAN provide a broad net when searching for records, it’s usually at the expense of missing information and being out of date.  As a result, CAI recommends that you reserve these database inquiries as a supplemental search.

How many jurisdictions you search depends upon the sensitivity of the job you are trying to fill.  Most companies look at a seven year address window — as revealed by the SSN trace — to provide an outline of where to search.  Remember, be consistent with the time period you choose to search. Check the applicant’s employment history.  It is very important that you look for gaps in the employment history and you get satisfactory (and confirmed) answers for any idle time.  CAI recommends that you check all former employers within the window you set, and ask specifically about: dates of employment, job title, salary; duties, if the applicant was involved with any violence, and any specifically job related requirements.  As a side note, always look up the phone number for references.  It is common for applicants to provide bogus numbers to ensure they get “good” references.  You should be cautious of toll free number for former employers.

Focus

With the basics of identity, references and criminal record behind you, focus on job specific requirements.  You should tailor your background check to fit the needs of the position that you want to fill.  For some jobs, you will want to confirm that the applicant has the necessary education to be successful at the job.  You should check the diploma or degree as well as the schools’ accreditation.  It’s not enough that a school claims to be “accredited” these days, there are several “diploma mills” that create bogus accreditation’s for an organization.  Always check the accreditation against the U.S. Department of Educations approved list at: http://www.ed.gov/admins/finaid/accred/index.html.

Will your applicant drive a company vehicle, or does the job require driving as part of the regular job duties (like driving to the post office)?  If so, it is a great idea to confirm that you applicant is fully licensed to drive, and has a good driving record.  A motor vehicle report will provide at a minimum a three year driving record for your applicant.  In most cases, it will also include tickets received while your applicant was out of his/her home state.

If your applicant is going to handle money, or has access to credit, or sensitive information (e.g. account numbers, SSNs, etc.) then it may be a good idea to check your applicant’s financial credit file.  If your applicant cannot demonstrate that they can manage their own personal finances, what expectation should you have that they can manage your company’s money?

Specialized

Beyond the standard checks, there are a lot of specialized searches that you may choose to utilize to ensure that you make the best hiring decision.  This is especially true if you are hiring for employees that will be working on government contracts.  It is not uncommon for the contracts to require searches of federal criminal record, debarment lists, and the terrorist watch list.  Many schools require sex offender list searches as well.

Although performing a background check is usually one of the final stages in the hiring process when we’re ready to hire someone, it’s a crucial that you get it right… the first time.  Generally speaking, most companies and HR professionals perform background checks, but the majority of them are under a false impression that all background checks are the same – not true.

Remember, it’s not just a background checking service that you’re entrusting this company to perform, it’s also the safety and longevity of your entire company. Don’t just “check-the-box” and go with the lowest cost provider, make sure they’re using reliable and up-to-date databases, checking for any discrepancies and providing you with the individualized feedback you need to make the best possible decision for your company. Resist the temptation to rush through this important step. Turnover is costly and hiring the wrong person could be deadly. After all, most people fail at jobs for reasons other than lack of skill…reasons that could easily be uncovered with a properly administered background check.

Our Background Checking Team will help you uncover everything you need to know about your job applicants and employees. If you would like to talk about your company’s specific needs, please call Kevin W. von der Lippe at (336) 899-1150 or by e-mail at kevin.vonderlippe@capital.org.

Utah’s Four-Day Workweek: Could It Work for Your Organization?

Thursday, August 18th, 2011

Welcome to Utah

Amid the economic downturn and rising costs of gas and energy, the state of Utah took initiative on reducing its operational costs by mandating a four-day workweek in 2008. The western state required a majority of its state employees to start work earlier andleave later Monday through Thursday to fit 40 hours in four days.  

The federal government standardized the traditional five-day workweek in 1938 with the Fair Labor Standards Act to protect workers from unjust wages and unreasonable overtime. Utah uprooted the traditional five-day workweek to save money and resources. Many state and local governments offer their employees a four-day workweek option, but Utah is the first to make it a requirement for 17,000 of its employees. The state’s ultimate goal for issuing a shorter workweek was to reduce its energy costs by 20 percent in 2015. So far, Utah has reduced its energy use by 13 percent.

Not only have the state’s energy costs decreased, but Utah estimates that because its state employees do not commute on Friday, they have saved nearly $6 million in gasoline. The program also reduced the state’s green house gas emission by more than 12,000 metric tons per year.

Some critics feared that a 10-hour work day could cause employees to be stressed, tired and frequently sick, but program participants discovered different results. Surveys conducted throughout the initiative revealed that there are fewer health complaints, and people are reporting less stress and taking fewer sick days. People also voiced concerns that longer work days could trigger people to exercise less and eat fast food more. Calming these worries, a survey found that only 20 percent of employees feel they eat more fast food, only 30 percent say they work out less and 30 percent say they actually exercise more since the change. Eighty-two percent of the employees surveyed feel content with the government’s new workweek structure.

Utah has saved $1.8 million since the start of its four-day workweek experiment. Operational costs have lowered dramatically and many employees have seen positive health results. Other benefits from the change include: increased volunteerism for outside activities, more time spent with families, and because state buildings now offer longer hours, Utah citizens can accomplish tasks, such as renewing a licenses at the DMV, during later hours.

If your company can provide support for working non-traditional hours and the services that your company provides are not confined by time, a four-day workweek might be a popular option for your team. The strategy, although not feasible for every organization, could prove to be a great solution for cutting costs and increasing employee morale in a down economy.

For more information on reducing workplace costs and strengthening employee morale, please contact a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Photo Source: rayb777