Corra Daily Planet » 2006 » March

Substance Abuse andthe Workplace

Wed, March 29th, 2006 - 4:29 pm - By Gordon Basichis

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Recently, an email came citing these most alarming facts. If you have any doubts or are relucant to conduct background checks on prospective employees perhaps these tidbits will show you the error your judgment. Here, let these facts sink in:

The economic and human costs of drug and alcohol use are astounding. The National Institute of Health reports that alcohol and drug abuse costs the economy upwards of $250 billion. In the workplace, substance abusers become your problem – nearly three out of four hold jobs. Consider these facts about substance abusers in the workplace:

They are ten times more likely to miss work
They are 33 percent less productive
They are five times more likely to injure themselves or other workers and cause 40 percent of all industrial fatalities
According to OSHA, drug and alcohol abusers file five times as many workers’ compensation claims as non-abusers
Working at minimal capacity, these workers increase other employees’ workloads, reduce productivity and compromise product quality. Their absence and health care demands increase costs. These workers reduce competitiveness and profitability, weakening their employers’ companies.

Since Corra Group is a background checking company we review a considerable number of reports that show a candidate’s substance abuse problems. As experienced investigators and researchers we see the behavior patteners that mark such abuse. There more obvious red flags are DUI convictions, a history of domestic strife, and often there are financial and credit problems. There is no doubt such an employee can lower the morale of their related department, and as word spreads, perhpaps the entire workplace. Often substance abusers are more prone to violence in the workplace. They demonstrate erratic behavior patterns that can intimidate and exasperate their fellow workers.

Of course none of this even begins to address the liability exposure your business has if a substance abuser decides to take his problems out on the other workers. If he should decide that physical or sexual abuse is a solution to what’s ailing him, the employer becomes liable for the injuries incurred by his fellow employees. One employee who snaps out against the people around him can be a major public embarrassment to a business, to say nothing of large financial settlements, court costs, loss of time and psychological damage suffered by other workers. The consequences are even worse if your unstable employee has a history of substance abuse and you, the employer, failed to do due diligence.

So don’t ever think you are being prudent or cost-effective by avoiding employment screenings. Savng those couple of bucks isn’t being prudent. Being thorough is being prudent. The bucks you save by not conducting a background check can cost you millions as the end result. It is bad business and bad faith to bring the wrong person into your family of workers.

Do the right thing. Do the smart thing. Always….Check Them Out Before You Hire.

The HR Challenge: Help Wanted Inquire within and Without

Thu, March 23rd, 2006 - 3:41 pm - By Gordon Basichis

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Homeland Security and the New Employment Landscape Have Added New Pressures to Your Human Resource Management Staff.
Just Because You Are Desperate to Hire, Overlooking the Candidate’s Red Flags Can Be a Costly Mistake
Companies are hiring right now. This is definitely good news and the sign of a strengthening economy. Since Corra Group specializes in background checking services we have found our business has increased in these recent months. We are getting calls from all over the country. Some are from companies with HR managers who are experienced in background checks. But many are from HR personnel who are not entirely familiar with the process.
These HR Personnel who are new to employment screening services. They may lack the experience and wherewithal to understand the kind of employment screening they should order, or even how to comprehend the more intricate aspects of a final report. If there are red flags, they may want to know how to proceed. At the same time they are often being pressured by the hiring managers to bring someone on board, to fill the gaps, without much further delay.
This can lead to serious mistakes. This can create oversights or the dismissal of not only the more obvious criminal records, but of the little things that may provide testimony to the candidate’s actual behavior patterns. Sometimes these tips are obscure or abstract but telling nevertheless. Frequent MVR violations can be indicators of substance abuse problems. Candidates with such abuse problems will often be difficult in the working place, and may be more prone to theft and embezzlement in order to support their habits. And then of course the minor infractions may show struggles with self-control. Financial concerns, other than actual credit reports, like liens and judgments will show difficulties with money management and overextension.
To be sure all aspects are examined thoroughly; any background checking service should be willing to work with either the accomplished veterans or the neophytes to the background checking process. As well as structuring a thorough variety of employment screening packages, it is important to develop comprehensive and cost effect background services that are designed to fit the particular needs of an individual business. It is necessary to ask questions and use the experience of one’s service agency to help design the best background checking fit for a specific company. Bottom line, it is important to be accessible and to have a well trained staff that can recognize a company’s individual needs and offer the appropriate services.
While there is much news about inaccurate background screening reports leading to liability and financial complications, a thorough background check still helps a company avoid unwanted disasters and even greater liability through theft, violence or substance and sexual abuse in the work place. Human Resource staffs must always bear in mind they are not only there to recruit the most fitting candidate but to help avoid costly difficulties such as repeated turnovers in the workplace.
In the end an HR manager must be patient and develop a standardized employment screening package for every job level. Some background checks, such as those applied to the laborer or office clerk may be simpler while screening for management and executive positions poses more complex and different challenges. In this day and age of the Enron’s of the world it is important to research whether your Ivy trained, impeccably credentialed potential new executive didn’t plea bargain his way out of a serious white collar crime. Or sometimes it is necessary to explore the possibility that a laborer or office worker while not convicted of any particular thievery has not ended up on the dark side of the Retail Theft or Esteem Database Search. In many cases, despite a confession, an employer simply doesn’t have the time or disposition to prosecute but will list that employee on this database.
Finally, no essay on pre-employment background checking should dismiss either the prospect of threats to Homeland Security or corporate spying. Domestic workers notwithstanding, with the increased hiring of foreign born it is sometimes necessary to order foreign criminal background searches, was well as education and prior employment verification. Some companies are loathe to order these employment screening checks, due to their expense. However, think of the cost if this is the proverbial bad seed on the one with his own agenda. Think of the havoc destruction and the embarrassment they may create for your company.
So in the end, order the kind of background screening packages that will provide you with a comprehensive overview of your job candidate. Despite pressures from the hiring managers, don’t be in a hurry to exchange your common sense for expedience. Be patient; wait for all the necessary information to come back to you. And be sure you ire the kind of background checking service where you receive knowledgeable answers quickly. Pick a background checking service that is willing to listen to you, confer with you and help you interpret the information they provide. In the end, not only will you benefit, but so will everyone else in your company.

Are Dream Lovers a Bargain When You Meet Them at Wal-Mart?

Mon, March 6th, 2006 - 8:03 pm - By Gordon Basichis

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We ran across this article, Love on Sale in Aisle 5, a while back and wanted to comment on it but kept forgetting. The article ran on and was written by Michael Y. Park.

There’s a special on romance in aisle 10.

At at least one store in the United States and throughout Germany, Wal-Mart (search) stores are hosting weekly singles nights, where shoppers looking for romance tie a red ribbon to their carts as they browse for laundry detergent, lip balm and, yes, love.

And Home Depot (search) stores have become such a well-known place for single women on the prowl for handy men that it’s become a running joke on radio talk shows.

Shoppers agree that the new hot spot for finding love is the local megamart.

“A few years ago, when my friend was going through her divorce, I said to her: ‘If you want to meet guys, I don’t recommend a bar. But I do frequent Home Depot,'” Lawrence, N.Y., relationship expert Debbie Mandel said….

“And then before you knew it, people would come over and talk to you. You’re looking at tiles, they’re looking at tiles; you’re looking at silicon, they’re looking at silicon; you learn the best way to grout and put tile down, and when we went over to the garden center, there were a lot of men working….

Four months ago, the singles night idea was rolled out in all Wal-Marts in Germany, with greeters at the entrance offering singles a large red bow (or a smaller one for shyer shoppers) to put on their carts to advertise their availability.

Bachelors and bachelorettes then go to “flirt points” around the store, in which a Wal-Mart associate or a supplier has a set-up station with singles-oriented products, like prepackaged meals….

Singles sample the items — and find an excuse to approach a possible Mr. or Miss Right….

That people are shopping for a romantic partner along with home supplies is no surprise to Home Depot director of Manhattan stores, Christine McVeigh.

“More than 57 percent of single women own their own homes. So more women are in the stores learning how to fix a leaky faucet or tile floors. Women are strapping on the tool belts,” McVeigh said. “So we have customer clinics geared toward the woman customer, power-tool classes for example, taught by women for women….”

On the flip side, single men can’t rely on their wives or girlfriends to get the toothpaste and shampoo, making Wal-Mart and Target potential pick-up joints as well….

“I don’t know if they consciously go to find dates, but it’s how people used to go to supermarkets and women and men find each other shopping in the produce aisle,” McVeigh said. “It’s a relaxed atmosphere, you’re not dressed up in full gear to go out at night, you’re confident about yourself and it makes for easy talking….”

“It’s a lot of primarily middle-aged people, lots of divorced parents with children, not too much of a young crowd, some mid-’20s to ’30s,” Wyatt said….

For this group, megamart dating is a nice change of pace from the kinds venues they might have been more attracted to when they were younger, Mandel said.

We love the fact that people are using the Wal-Marts and Home Depots, and presumably the other mega-chains for something other than shopping. Whle shopping is often necessary, it can be a tad boring. How excited can you get shopping for laundry detergent and a bottle of shampoo? Or for that matter shopping a dozen sheets of drywall is not what we would call a party worthy event.

But now you have the possibility of romance. Of course, you’ve always had the same possibility in most of these stores, but now it is official. And sometimes it is even organized. While prowling the aisles for the perfect lightbulb you are emboldened, knowing that the man or woman lingering suggestively just yards from you is there for more than knobs, nails or another cheap sweater made in China. They, like you, may be prowling the aisles for their soul mates. And if not their soul mates then at the very least a nice time with a nice person who knows a bargain when they see one.

Let’s face it, prowling the mega-stores for someone you would actually like to date is better than standing at a bar and drinking up your salary. At the Wal-Mart, the Home Depot, Kohls, Crate and Barrel, wherever, you have a much better chance of finding someone with whom you are compatible then you do at the local watering hole. And come closing time at Bed Bath and Beyond, you and your new found lover still have your wits about you. At the nightspot, chances are one of you is fighting back drunken excess while the other one debates the benefits of your company or the ignominy of going home alone.

Somewhere someone said something like “Love is Where You Find It.” In the movies it is usually some place sexy. In real life, it may well be by the frozen foods.. In any case, when the initial swoon wears off, just to be sure you haven’t said yes to dinner with either Jack the Ripper or Mata Hari, run a background check and see if they really are who they say they are. It may be the difference between walking down the aisle or being stranded in it.

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