Most employers are aware of the importance of conducting thorough background checks on new hires. But what about conducting similar background checks on current employees?
The transportation and medical industries are required to conduct on-going background checks on existing employees. However the question remains: Should other industries follow suit? It can be argued that post-hire screening can be a risk management tool. Background checks are often only good for the period at which they are conducted. There can be many changes over the course of an employee’s job tenure – the new hire from five years ago, in the ensuing years, may have been arrested for assault or DUI. Or a worst case scenario – what if your employee was arrested while completing work-related tasks while on a client’s premises? Could a background checks have prevented it?
The short answer is: maybe.
That’s why, when implemented properly, there are several reasons to conduct on-going background checks.
1. Screening for a Promotion.
Take this scenario: Your Company continually promotes from within, and your current Revenue Cycle Executive is your top choice for the vacant position of Chief Finance Officer. This person has 15 years of experience within your company and has been a loyal and fair employee. Should a background check be done on this individual? Absolutely. For it so happens that this employee’s recent credit history turned up several delinquencies, judgments, and liens—thereby raising the question of whether this employee is still your top candidate?
2. Maintaining a Safe Work Environment
On many occasions, you have seen the negative headlines and thought “I’m glad it wasn’t us: for in today’s world, there seems to be violence everywhere – from schools and playgrounds to hospitals and workplaces. In fact, from 2006 – 2010, an average of 551 workers were killed at their workplace, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. (http://www.bls.gov/iif/oshwc/cfoi/osar0016.htm) All companies seek to provide employees with safe work environments. That’s one reason why public safety companies conduct post-hire background screening every five years; perhaps a similar policy should be implemented in the private sector as well. Background checks—along with having a zero-tolerance policy for violent behavior– may not prevent all workplace violence, but it certainly is a start towards establishing a safe work environment.
3. Reduce the Risks of Negligent Hiring and Retention
Pre-employment screening reduces negligent hiring. However, the question remains: is your company susceptible to negligent retention? Negligent retention occurs when an employer fails to discharge / terminate an employee who management know, or should have known, had a propensity toward violence, sexual harassment, or dishonesty. For example, say your company has had several complaints about your new Line Supervisor about inappropriate language; if no one within the company retrained or addressed the issues regarding the Line Supervisor the result can often be a Sexual Harassment lawsuit. Certainly, a background check could have helped resolved this matter—or perhaps prevented it.
Of course, no amount of testing can guarantee that no employee-related issues will ever arise. However, employment screening remains one of the soundest investments any company—large or small—can make to mitigate the chances of future employee-related problems.