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Best Practices for Risk Management Prehire

David Epstein, Ed.D.

Risk Management in the workplace is complicated and has many facets, but the most important is also the one that comes first – preventative measures. Bad hiring and screening practices open avenues of risk for organizations. Establishing best practices for the entire process, from screening and interviewing to onboarding and training, will help you mitigate this risk. This article will address the best practices for risk management in the pre-hire stage, specifically job descriptions and advertising. The next article in this pre-hire series will look at screening and interviewing best practices.

What does hiring have to do with the risk management process? Hiring an applicant that is not a good fit for the job can lead to high costs in training or lost labor hours as the employee will not perform as efficiently. 1) It is possible that the employee will leave if they realize the job doesn’t match expectations, wasting the time and money spent on onboarding and development. 2) Hiring an employee that does not fit the culture can poison a workplace environment – driving down productivity, increasing attrition, and potentially leading to a hostile work environment if things progress. Lost time, money, and productivity are nothing compared to the risks that stem from a bad work environment. 3) While rare, poorly crafted job descriptions and poor interviewing can lead to discrimination claims.

The first step to proper hiring is the pre-hiring process. This is to make sure that the job description accurately reflects the position you’re trying to fill. Consider the job description as the chance to align expectations for you and potential employees. A job description should detail all the requirements for the position. If it is a new position, take time to prepare a specific outline of the tasks the new employee will be required to perform.

Even if you are filling an already existing position, review the job description to see if it needs updating. There are often additional responsibilities that get added or removed over time. Compare the previous employee’s workload with the job description. If there was a problem with the previous employee or the position itself, this is your opportunity to fix it! Consider the skills, talent and experience needed

The second step to proper hiring is job advertising – It is your opportunity to attract the best candidate. Advertise broadly in forums calculated to reach the entire community, not just certain segments of the community. Not only will this help avoid the appearance of discrimination by attracting a more diverse applicant pool, but it will help your organization find the best applicant for each position. Post the job opening internally, as well, so your current employees have an opportunity to apply for the position and advance their careers.

The third step to proper hiring is the interview process. Make sure that the individuals conducting interviews are trained properly in what they are allowed to ask and what criteria they are and are not allowed to use to make a hiring determination. Further, asking the right questions can make the difference between hiring a candidate that will drain time and resources and one that will immediately bring value to the organization.

Ensuring that the best candidate is hired makes sure that the new employee will have the right skills and experience to meet the job requirements. Proper Interviewing techniques ensure the right candidate is hired for the right job. It can even uncover red flags or reveal traits that make a candidate less desirable. These are key steps to helping with employee retention, thus saving costs and improving workplace culture.

Finally, remember that the interview is to determine if the organization and employee are a match. As much as it’s important for employees to be honest about themselves, the same is true of the organization. Laying out honest and upfront expectations, duties, salary, and culture will ensure that there is a good match, and the employee will be much more likely to stay after you’ve invested in their onboarding.

The final step to proper hiring is screening applicants. Screening applicants can reveal high-risk factors and provide information to avoid exposure to liabilities before an employment offer has been extended. It is important to finish this step before formal employment has begun. Screening should include a background check (a licensure check is critically important for individuals who will be interacting with minors in any capacity requiring one). There are many reasons for screening your applicants:

  • To ensure a safe work environment for your employees
  • To reduce legal liability for negligent hiring
  • To reduce/prevent theft and other criminal activity
  • To comply with state law
  • To assess the overall trustworthiness of the applicant
  • To assess a driver’s history for those individuals that have driving requirements in their role.

Background Checks – It is important to follow all requirements of the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Working with your provider and counsel will assure that you are disclosing proper information to the candidates, and you are using the information lawfully.


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