While customers are undoubtedly the driving force behind the restaurant industry, an organization's employees are the key to its overall success. Trustworthy employees are needed to act as the face of the company in day-to-day interactions with clients, ensuring quality customer service and safety.
Knowing your staff — before they know your restaurant or meet your patrons — is crucial. Many restaurant positions are often unsupervised, so it's especially important to hire loyal and emotionally stable employees.
Not knowing an individual's background prior to allowing them to work in your restaurant could result in damaging consequences. And if you hire employees without researching their history, you could be liable if they harm a customer or coworker.
A thorough background check should eliminate applicants with a negative history, criminal record or drug abuse. These people should not be allowed to work on restaurant property. A check of a candidate's driving record can turn up traffic violations and drunk-driving convictions. Simply stated, in today's society, it is imperative that restaurants prescreen employees to mitigate loss and litigation and preserve profits and credibility.
Lies on the application
According to the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM), 53 percent of all job applications contain false information. Dishonest information on an application is often a red flag for employers, potentially indicating a hiring risk. Some common resume lies include not revealing criminal convictions and omitting employment gaps or previous terminations.
Restaurant businesses must be proactive in their hiring process, since they are particularly susceptible to high turnover. Establishing and implementing a consistent pre-employment screening policy assists in protecting the safety of customers and employees, as well as the organization's integrity, by reducing negligent hiring and retention practices.
Cost versus risk
You could dispute that the cost of conducting background checks weighs heavily. But the outcome of not performing due diligence resulting in negligent hiring can be far greater. Food tampering, workplace violence and employee-related theft are reasons alone to prescreen applicants. And even when applicants are referrals, it doesn't mean they are qualified to work in your restaurant. Background checks play an integral role in the mitigation of liability concerns, and restaurants should utilize screening tools to build a successful workforce.
Tips to reduce negligent-hiring liability include:
Mandate a companywide commitment and include your franchise operations to advocate a safe work environment and mitigate risk.
Create a standardized pre-employment screening policy and develop position-specific searches based on multiple screening products.
Eliminate subjective opinions and establish criteria to evaluate results to determine what will constitute disqualifying information.
Adhere to all Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) rules and regulations.
Incorporate applicant background information and release forms in an application or prehire package, and conduct program reviews regularly to ensure adherence to all policies.
Why background checks are essential
Criminals and abusers look for restaurants that don't prescreen their employees — places to work where they can slip in undetected and gain the trust of coworkers. Investigating a job applicant's background not only helps protect company assets, but it also keeps the workplace and customers safe. Establishments can also use the background — check report to determine whether an applicant has been honest on the job application. The key to minimizing exposure to such liabilities is to know your applicant's history prior to extending an offer of employment.
William F. Hauswirth is president of IntelliCorp Records, Inc. (an ISO Company). He can be reached at 216-450-5186 or [email protected].