Corra Daily Planet » 2006 » April

Human Resources–Which Will It Be? Self-Service Pre-Employment Background Checking Systems VS. Full Service Employment Screening

Tue, April 18th, 2006 - 2:53 pm - By Gordon Basichis

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During the last number of years, a variety of Background Checking Systems have offered automated self-service systems where all the Human Resource Personnel has to do is type in the search order and wait the appointed amount of time for the search to be returned to their email address. It seems simple enough, and for many companies no doubt it is preferable to the vagaries of human contact and the subsequent chance of human error. In fact, in a perfect world this may indeed be the more efficient way to order your background checks.However, as the more cognizant among us have come to realize, this is far from a perfect world and the seemingly perfect systems have their flaws. While some of the more experienced HR personnel may find it easier to order their background screening searches through automated systems, other human resource people may find it troublesome, costly and very time consuming. Essentially, what you are doing as an HR person is the work that should be allocated to the background checking service. You are using that background screening service’s system to order and conduct the research yourself. You have taken as much as thirty percent of your office time, in order to transform yourself into a self-service employment screening system. You are incurring hidden costs and overlooking desired services.
If this is not incredibly time consuming, then you should factor in the mistakes you and your assistants make while conducting background screenings in the course of the month. Since the Corra Group is a background searching service, it’s fair to say we have seen it all. Orders come in all the time where there are spelling mistakes or typos on names and relevant information. There are overlapping search orders. There are orders for searches on candidates who are already disqualified or even fired. It should be no secret that the less educated and the less trained an individual the more likely they are to make mistakes in ordering.
Sometimes orders for criminal background checks are specified for the wrong state or county. Since there is no one available from the background checking service to actually review your order for overlaps, typos and other usual and costly mistakes, the background screening orders are passed on as is and often come back as incomplete or inaccurate. There are any number of mistakes that are made, and once they are made, you the Human Resource Department are responsible for the additional expenses that accumulate through human error.
There are more than a few occasions when HR personnel, especially those who are new to the background checking process, need clarification or help in interpreting reports. They may need timely answers concerning a background report, or you may need clarification on a bill. Should you have these needs, HR personnel lament, just try to contact someone at the automated screening services. You can telephone, or you can email, but you already know you are in for a frustrating session either case.
In fact, you may have better odds at winning at blackjack than you do getting timely answers from an automated system. Service from even major background systems is too often an arcane concept, much like free parking or checking your oil. For those who don’t think so, just try to dial up the number of any vendor and see how long it takes before you resolve any issues. Between phone menu hell and the phone bank from somewhere else you could be days waiting in Limbo. And the email merry go round won’t do you much better.
Automated self-service background checking systems are used as a hedge against volume and as a dependable resource to elevate the bottom line. The trouble is the resource is not as beloved as some would think. Since most self-service systems eliminate what they deem as the need for essential human contact from their business model they also eliminate the human touch. Studies show tha the more automated a system, as evidenced by banks without tellers, the less inclined are customers to evoke goodwill. The lack of goodwill leads to a breakdown in loyalty, and that in turn accelerates customer churn. Fewer customers obviously reduce the profit margins. With profit margins reduced, to satisfy investors, the self-service background screening firms are compelled to further cut corners in order to reduce costs. When costs are cut even mediocre service descends into horrific service and this subsequently leads once again to customer churn. It’s a vicious cycle and you become its prey.
For the customers, there are hidden costs with the automated systems. Factor in that you are usually working in a compressed time frame and need answers and solutions within hours and not days. With pressure on you from the hiring manager, you make a hasty decision and offer the candidate the working. By the time you do get that much needed answer, the ship has sailed, the person is hired, trained and on the job. And then you get the bad news, the information you were waiting on, the nebulous charge was indeed a felony, he or she does have a substance abuse problem, there is a history of violence. So no you have to fired that candidate and find someone else for the position. More training means more money.
As I said in the beginning, this is not every automated self-service system. I’m sure a great many HR people are happy doing the work themselves. Not everyone needs guidance, and not everyone desires human contact. And, as sad as the fact may be, not everyone wants service. Because it is seldom provided in any industry a good many of us have forgotten what true service is really like. Or maybe you believe it is relegated to that thing you get on a cruise.
But there are a great many that need guidance, who want service. There are many who realize their workday is long and tough enough and it becomes even tougher when they have to do the work that others can do. There are a great many who wish to get what they are paying for, and they want it delivered in a timely fashion from knowledgeable people. There are people who even like it when you actually answer the phone and can answer their questions. They like it when they can the exchange is in comprehensible English, and not committed to either corporate jargon, esoteric phrases or in a language only vaguely reminiscent of their native tongue.
That’s why at Corra Group we began an experiment that is so old it’s new. We turned off the automated system. Instead, we have our administrative assistants do the processing and we try to answer the phone. We like to talk to our clients, new and prospective. We try to assess their needs and answer their questions right on the spot or get back to them in a timely fashion. We monitor their orders for background checks, and we call them when we see a problem. We interpret the reports when asked to do so. We have tried to provide service to our Human Resource clients wherever and whenever possible. It has been an interesting experiment. We hope, for the sake of our society and its many industries, it’s the kind of thing that will catch on.

Find Zip Codes for City and County

Thu, April 13th, 2006 - 4:31 pm - By Gordon Basichis

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Want to know a zip code? Want to know the zip code for a city or county? Want to know what city is in what county? Want to know the different counties in the different states?

Well it is pretty easy now that we at Corra Group have provided you with a complete list of zip codes for every city in every county in every state. There is no guesswork or searching all over the Internet. Just go to our new Corra Zip Code Site, and beginning with the State of Alabama you can find whatever zip code you are looking for, and in what city, county and state.

Human Resource people may find this helpful for conducting a county criminal background search. With the zip code and city you can find the appropriate county in which to order the county criminal background screeing. This service may also be helpful in obtaining employment and personal referrals.

In any event, use it in health, as my grandmother used to say. As always, Corra is glad to be of service.

Take Me Out to the Ball Game, Take Me Out of Work

Tue, April 11th, 2006 - 10:05 pm - By Gordon Basichis

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Atomic PR in behalf of its client email Vertical Release, a leading provider of self-service email, published the following study and published it in apress release, drawing the attention, among others of CNBC.Baseball’s Opening Day Sparks Increase in Employee Absenteeism and Inattention

VerticalResponse Survey Finds Nearly Half of Offices Feel the Crack of the Bat on Opening Day

San Francisco, CA – Mar. 31, 2006 – Baseball’s opening day is just around the corner and many of our nationÕs employees would rather take part in the pastime than focus entirely on work. VerticalResponse, the leading provider of self-service email and direct mail marketing solutions, recently surveyed customer companies in cities with professional baseball teams and found nearly half (46%) of respondents see an increase in absenteeism and inattention on opening day, as many employees either miss work entirely or tune eyes and ears toward the game through their browsers and/or radios.

The survey also revealed one-quarter of companies use baseball for business-related purposes, such as schmoozing clients at the ballpark, purchasing tickets in luxury boxes, and employee outings. Another notable aspect of the responses is the trends from different regions of the country, for example:

  • New England companies lead the way in baseball-related absenteeism and inattention, as 39% of the areaÕs respondents say opening day affects their productivity and many of the region’s companies leverage Red Sox mania in marketing efforts:
    • Half of the responding area companies incorporate baseball in their direct email campaigns.
    • Half also experience a change in email response rate on opening day.
  • 43% of total respondents across the country make a family affair out of game day, taking their spouse and kids to the ballpark. Midwesterners skewed even more strongly towards family-orientation, with more than half stating they usually attend a game with their family.
  • The West Coast shows a more romantic trend, as 38% responded they attend a game hoping to sneak a kiss from a date on the Jumbotron.

“Many companies tie their promotional efforts to local and seasonal themes, and with new offices overlooking AT&T Park, we understand the appeal of baseball as a marketing tool,” said VerticalResponse CEO Janine Popick. “Targeted campaigns crafted around special themes, or devised with regional differences in mind Ð such as the kind revealed in the survey Ð yield greater results, underscoring the need for campaigns tailored to particular audiences.”

The unscientific survey was conducted via email in March 2006 and queried VerticalResponse customers in markets with professional baseball teams on topics relating to baseball and direct marketing.

As long time baseball fans, these statistics hardly surprise Corra. What better reason to ditch work than to celebrate the advent of baseball season by taking in a game. It seems it is at least one tradition that the blue states and red states have in common, and that is to take their spouses and children out to the ballpark. It may not be as cheap as it once was, but there is no better way to celebrate the end of winter and the beginning of spring.

Of course, we realize that when the employee bags work and takes his family out to the ball game he or she is allowing their children to play hooky for the day. This too is not the worst tradition, since we are now so career minded it is most satisfying every now and then to let that remaining streak of rebellion take hold and go out and live in the moment. After all, anymore there are so few moments families get to share, let them share one that honors a grand tradition.

So the workforce skips work, the kids skip school, and productivity allegedly slows down for Baseball’s opening day. So what? We will all endure; the country will still thrive, and our families will have a moment to remember. If that doesn’t beat working, we don’t know what does.

Criminal Codes for Human Resource Reference

Wed, April 5th, 2006 - 10:38 am - By Gordon Basichis

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Since we at the Corra Group are a background checking service, we find that many of our clients are unfamiliar with the National Crime Informational Center (NCIC) codes, which is the uniform definitive list for criminal offenses.

The National Crime Information Center (NCIC) is the United States’s central database for tracking crime-related information, including wanted persons, missing persons, certain firearms, stolen property, and criminal histories. Operated by the FBI, it receives input from government agencies and all fifty state governments.

These codes are often found on your employment screening reports and may help you decide whether to hire a candidate or whether to pass. With the increase in pre-employment background checks, often by companies that have never ordered them before, we thought listing these codes would help familiarize newcomers and old hands alike with the different crimes.

Use this lookup chart for understanding NCIC Codes.

We hope you find this helpful.

Always Remember: Check Them Out Before You Hire.

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