Archive for November, 2010

SHRM Tells EEOC of “Compelling Public Interest” in Employee Credit Checks

Friday, November 19th, 2010

credit check, background check, employee background checkLast month the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) conducted a public hearing about employers’ use of credit history when making hiring decisions. The goal of the EEOC was to determine the extent of the practice, its effectiveness, and potential impact on various populations.

While some states have restricted use of credit reports in hiring decisions, most have not taken action against pre-employment credit checks. According to the EEOC Chair at the start of the hearing “questions have emerged about the fairness of the practice, whether the results…correlate to job performance and whether there are any adverse impacts.”

A representative from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), a respected industry association, told the commission that the federal government should not eliminate an employer’s use of credit histories to make hiring decisions. Christine Walters said, “SHRM believes there is compelling public interest in enabling our nation’s employers…to assess the skills, abilities and work habits of potential hires.”

She also brought to the commission’s attention that employers typically do not conduct background checks and credit checks on employees until they are about the make a job offer. This contradicts the opposing belief that employee credit checks are discriminatory or represent a form of economic segregation.

SHRM Research on Employee Background Screening

  • Recent data revealed that only 13 percent of organizations surveyed conducted credit checks on 100% of job candidates. 47 percent take the credit history of candidates for selected jobs into consideration.
  • 91 percent of employers conduct credit checks only for jobs with financial or fiduciary responsibilities; 46 percent check the credit histories of senior executive candidates and 34 percent only check those who would have access to confidential employee information.
  • Four out of 10 organizations do not conduct credit checks.
  • Credit history ranked lowest on a list of criteria employers use in hiring decisions.
  • Medical bills are not typically considered when scrutinizing employee candidates’ credit histories. And only 11 percent of respondents consider home foreclosures.
  • The vast majority of employers—87percent—allow candidates the opportunity to explain their credit check report results.

Walters also told the EEOC that while employers typically don’t tell candidates they can’t work for them because they have bad credit, they want the option to use credit histories to help determine which candidate is the most qualified. The Commission did not disclose whether it will issue any guidance on the issue of employers’ use of credit histories.

Dealing with Four Tricky Employee Personalities

Thursday, November 11th, 2010

employeescreeningblog, pre employment screeningPeople come in all shapes, sizes, colors and personalities. Some are easier to work with and manage than others. Personality quirks should not get in the way of hiring a new employee, but knowing how to deal with unusual personalities can save headaches later.

  1. The Toxic Worker: This category includes insensitive and bullying personalities. This employee can suck the life out of a work environment with petty comments, inappropriate behavior and rude actions. Keep your ears open to cues of such behavior in the job interview. If the employee only starts acting like a jerk after they’re hired, stay on top of it, issue warnings and if necessary, let them go sooner rather than later. Frame the discipline around the fact that he or she—not an “overly sensitive” group of co-workers—is the problem.
  2. The Gossip: Ignoring boundaries, this employee enjoys knowing what’s going on in every other staff member’s life—and repeating it to anyone who will listen. Gossipers can be destructive, contributing to an unpleasant or even hostile work environment. Encourage gossips to bring concerns about other employees directly to management.
  3. The Chronic Cell Phone User: Depending on your business, you may or not allow cell phone conversations or texting during work hours. But everyone knows a Chronic Cell Phone User, who ignores any rules and seems unaware of how often they text or how loud they talk. The problem is not only lost productivity, but sometimes co-workers will know more than they should about the employee’s personal life. Establishing rules such as no cell phone use except for break time can help. You might spot a Chronic Cell Phone User if their phone buzzes or actually rings during the interview. People who are aware of cell phone etiquette will always turn off the phone for something as important as a job interview.
  4. The Odorous One: Whether it’s perfume, cigarettes, bad breath or even alcohol exuding from their pores, a worker who smells offensive can distract or even sicken others. Many of these issues will be revealed during a job interview—but can you strike the applicant because of the way they smell? Chemical and cigarette insensitivity is a real issue in workplaces, and can even result in legal action. Protecting your staff from illness is an employer’s responsibility. But what about a worker’s private conduct, such as smoking or drinking too much alcohol after work? Speaking directly to the employee is usually necessary, and framing the issue around a business problem—not a personal problem—is the way to go. Let the employee know how their behavior, whether it’s smoking, not bathing, or wearing too much perfume or after shave, is affecting their career, their fellow employees, and the business.

What Employee Traits are Employers Looking for Today?

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010


pre employment screening, background check employeeHiring employees
has been off the to-do list for business owners struggling to recover from a down economy and for those who are again starting to do well after a couple of tough years. So, what has changed? Have employers’ needs changed due to a different economic reality? Have potential employees changed, too?

Ask a dozen employers what they’re looking for in employees today, and you’ll probably hear a variety of answers—as well as some commonalities. Here are a few answers we’ve received to that question:

Attitude: “I’m seeing a new commitment to work from potential employees,” says Andrea, a floral shop owner. “A respect for me as an employer and a real desire to work is replacing the ‘you owe me a job’ attitude that some employees exhibited over the past several years.” Andrea says hiring for attitude is her #1 goal. “Positive people contribute to a great company culture and make customers feel great about dealing with my company.”

Appreciation: “I want people who appreciate my company and my customers,” says Kevin, a heating and air conditioning company owner. “They represent me with every interaction and I can’t afford to hire employees who are not customer-centric.” Kevin makes sure he asks every potential employee to give examples of how they have gone above and beyond for customers in their previous jobs. “If they can’t answer that question, I won’t hire them.”

Excellent references: With so many more people looking for work, it pays to know whom you’re hiring. Checking with previous employers, running pre-employment screening checks and calling references are more important then ever before.

Easier recruiting: Your best new employee could be a link or two away. “I ask my contacts on LinkedIn for referrals when I’m hiring,” said Jeanne. “And, I ask my employees if they know of a good person for a particular position.” Employees usually try to make good recommendations, since it reflects directly on them.

Community involvement: “I always look closely at applicants who say they volunteer or are otherwise active in the community,” said Mark. “Their contacts usually become my customers.” And it goes both ways. Mark says he works toward supporting the groups hisvolunteer with. “It makes for a better community, which is important when times are tough.”