Five employees, all carrying out their duties, are shot and killed by a disgruntled employee. Others, including five police officers, are injured. Yes, it can, and unfortunately does happen—to managers, leaders in the organization, and employees at every level.

Recent news reports bring to light the horrific events at a manufacturing plant in suburban Chicago.

  • Reportedly a 1995 felony conviction was not found when the background check was conducted.

RefCheck Speaks: This is an unfortunate example of why we encourage senior leadership to be intimately involved in the background-checking process. The perpetrator was a 15-year employee, so he would have been hired sometime in 2004. While the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the federal law that covers employment background checks, does not limit the time that felony records can be reported by a CRA (Consumer Reporting Agency), typically, criminal background records are searched seven years back. If an employer wishes research further back, s/he should make arrangements for those searches. It is important that leaders understand exactly what work is being conducted when a criminal record search is ordered, such as:

  • Where will the search be conducted? Only one county? Multiple counties based on locations where the candidate has lived, worked, or attended school?
  • How far back will the records be searched?

Only conducting criminal-record searches gives employers a false sense of security. These searches do not provide information about the candidate’s behaviors, skills, ability and willingness to carry out the duties of the job, ability and willingness to follow safety rules, ability to respect authority, attendance and punctuality, and relationships in the workplace, to list a few. It is only through thorough, focused, reference checks that this information can be captured. Further, the effort made by the employer to contact former employers serves as excellent documentation to support their due diligence.

Endera recently released the results of research they commissioned to survey 200 security executives in companies with more than 1,000 employees. The report, Security Executives on the Future of Insider Threat Management, offers important information for employers, regardless of size.

Key findings of the survey:

  • “Almost 40% of respondents indicated that their workforce had lost confidence in the organization’s ability to keep them safe.”

RefCheck Speaks: Employers have a moral and fiscal obligation to protect their employees and customers. The report provides solid data about safety concerns among employees. Such concerns affect a company’s ability to recruit and retain talent as well as its morale and culture.

  • “75% of respondents report that their organizations conduct background checks prior to hiring members of the workforce, but just under half (48%) report that these checks are continued on a periodic basis….88% of security executives agree that continuously evaluating workforce risk will help their company better understand and prepare for risks. At the moment, none of the respondents noted that they conduct post-hire background checks….”

RefCheck speaks: Things happen; employees change. To assume that pre-hire checks will suffice poses a great risk to the employer.

  • “…Nearly half (48%) of the security executives say that the information in background checks is not detailed enough…and 84% state that they could improve the way they use the background-check results to mitigate the ongoing risk with their organization.”

RefCheck Speaks: The only surprise in this data is that it is only 48% of respondents who are aware of the fact that background checks are not detailed enough. Employers, and those who carry out the background-checking process, must understand that background checks are a critical step in mitigating the risks of workplace violence, that they information they request of their provider is adequate, and that the information received is taken seriously.

RefCheck is committed to partnering with and supporting employers who are serious about workplace safety.

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About the Author

Zuni Corkerton is the Founder and President of RefCheck® Information Services, Inc., a human resources-based firm that focuses on providing stellar employers with in-depth–not generic–background-screening services. She founded the company in 1986, when as director of employee relations for a regional bank she found that hiring blind was not a sound business option. She needed solid, objective, job-related background information on the bank’s candidates. RefCheck® helps employers to perform their due diligence in the selection process in order to protect their employees, and to protect their organizations from the risks inherent in the selection process: employee theft, workplace violence, and negligent-hiring and negligent-retention allegations. Adherence to federal and state laws is of paramount importance to the company.

Please call (800-510-4010, x 12) or email Zuni (zcorkerton@refcheck.com) to schedule a free, confidential analysis of your current screening practices, and to determine how RefCheck® can help you to mitigate risk, protect your bottom line, and improve hiring.

Notice: Nothing in the material provided is intended to be or should be relied upon as legal advice. Readers are strongly advised to seek legal counsel. The author is not an attorney, and the information provided is for informational purposes only. Neither the author nor RefCheck® is engaged in rendering legal advice.