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(Editor’s note: Today’s post is brought to you by our friends at Paycom, a leading provider of cloud-based human capital management software. They recently presented a check for $15,000 to Calm Waters to help fund its bereavement support programs for children and families. Hope you enjoy the article.)
Over the past few weeks, I’ve mentioned a couple of articles talking about a predicted wave of employee turnover coming. LinkedIn’s Workforce Confidence Index reported that 74% of workers are simply “sheltering in their job”, meaning that they’re just collecting a paycheck and waiting for the right moment to start looking for their next opportunity. And in an article published by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), over half of employees are looking to change jobs as we continue to emerge from the pandemic. The reasons that employees are looking include compensation and work-life balance.
In light of these articles, it might be good for organizations to do two things. First, organizations need to develop an employee retention strategy. Second, organizations should make sure that their talent acquisition strategy is ready for anything the future might hold.
Even if an organization doesn’t experience the predicted level of turnover, I’d like to hope that companies will be doing more hiring in the months to come. We’re already seeing indications of increased travel and consumer spending. These are good indicators for business. And with an increase in hiring comes a need for background checks.
The Difference Between Employment Verifications and Reference Checks
A couple of months ago, I wrote an article specifically about Paycom’s Enhanced Background Checks solution. We talked about background checks such as criminal record searches, credit checks, education verification, etc. But one type of background check that’s a part of the Enhanced Background Checks solution that we didn’t discuss was reference checks. I think it’s important to draw a distinction between reference checks and employment verifications.
An employment verification is the process of verifying that the candidate worked someplace. Many employment verifications are conducted to confirm information on a resume or application. Organizations might also conduct an employment verification to get a new hire a security badge or approval. When I worked for the airline, we had to verify a candidate’s employment history to get them a badge.
A reference check is an activity where the organization makes an inquiry about the employee’s performance, aptitude, relationship and conflict management, and general character. An organization might contact the candidate’s HR department, aformer manager or supervisor or maybe even a colleague to conduct a reference check. Many times, the candidate provides the names of these individuals to a prospective employer.
Sometimes an employment verification and a reference check are conducted at the same time, but it’s not a requirement.
A few of you might be saying to yourself, “Hey, if the candidate provides the names of their references, then aren’t those people just going to say wonderful things? Why even do a reference check?” I struggle with this as well.
But reference checks are valuable when they’re done well. And surprisingly, when they’re done well, a candidate’s references will tell you all sorts of things. I know that many of you are nodding your heads as you read this. In fact, I’m hearing an increasing number of HR professionals say they’re getting better results when they have a third party conduct the reference check.
I had a chance to speak with Paycom Chief Operating Officer Jon Evans, who mentioned that they’re seeing an increased demand for a more efficient background and reference check process. “It’s important that our clients have a seamless, compliant, and quick screening process that includes a user-friendly experience with the ability to configure packages to meet the needs of their businesses.” Here’s how the reference checking piece works:
Paycom representatives attempt to call references first, and if they are unable, then they attempt to contact individuals via email. They have a list of standard questions that they ask, including:
- What was your relationship with the candidate?
- What were the candidate’s main job duties or responsibilities at your organization?
- Did the candidate supervise others? If so, how would their direct reports describe their management style?
- How would the candidate’s co-workers describe them?
- How did the candidate deal with conflict?
- What are the candidate’s strengths? In what area(s) can the candidate continue to improve?
If Paycom is unable to connect with a reference, then it’s noted in their report. Clients receive immediate reports once background checks are completed. And the process can be turned around in just a day or so.
I have to say, the quick turnaround time is a HUGE plus for me. I’ve had hires where it’s taken weeks to check their references. In part because the reference was hard to connect with but also because I was being pulled in so many different directions. Meanwhile, a hiring manager was getting annoyed with me because the reference check was the last piece that needed to be completed before extending a job offer. That’s not a position that anyone wants to be in. Trust me on this one.
Reference Checks Allow Organizations to Hire the Best Talent
I’ve mentioned before that just because I can do something doesn’t mean that it’s the best use of my time. Reference checks are one of those things. But make no mistake, reference checks are an important part of the selection process. As part of your talent acquisition strategy, it can make good business sense to partner with a company that can deliver quality results in a timely fashion.
Evans explained that Paycom’s software makes the process less time-consuming so HR departments can focus on more strategic activities. “Because of our single-database software, information from applicant tracking and background checks automatically flows to the self-onboarding solution, accelerating the time to hire and improving the new employee experience.”
Organizations that make the strategic decision to use a background check solution can reduce administration in their hiring process. This can translate into a shorter time to fill. This benefits the organization. And it benefits the candidate who would love to get a job offer from you.
P.S. If you want to learn more about Paycom’s Enhanced Background Checks solution, check out the on-demand webinar Better Background Checks: How to Hire Safely and Efficiently. In addition to great information, it’s also eligible for SHRM and HRCI recertification credits.32