How to Find the Right Seasonal Workers for the Holiday Rush
Businesses, especially those in the service and retail sectors, know all too well the consequences of hiring the wrong employees. Workplace misconduct like theft, violence, harassment and other disruptive behaviors can wreak havoc on a company's bottom line.
Take employee theft, for example. This category of misconduct is accompanied by a $50 billion dollar a year price tag. Since the COVID-19 pandemic commenced, the National Retail Foundation (NRF) found that 44 percent of retailers witnessed an increase in employee theft — with the average dishonest employee costing their employer $1,551. These alarming statistics underscore the critical importance of candidate screening to protect a company’s financial well-being.
The Impact of Workplace Misconduct
A recent study on the state of workplace misconduct revealed that in seven out of nine industries, more than 5 percent of the workforce engaged in misconduct. Often referred to as the "5 percent rule," surpassing this threshold is accompanied by detrimental effects, including difficulties in attracting and retaining talent, damage to brand reputation, compliance issues, costly legal fees, and adverse impacts on revenues and profitability.
Moreover, the percentage of screened candidates found to engage in misconduct was, on average, more than double the acceptable standards outlined in the same report, with retail and hospitality grouped into consumer services experiencing misconduct numbers reaching a high of 27 percent. Another study highlighted that just one toxic employee within a team of up to 20 individuals could reduce productivity by an astounding 40 percent and make team members 54 percent more likely to contemplate seeking other job opportunities.
As we approach the holiday season, many retailers must augment their workforce to meet the influx of customers and heightened production and service demands. Seasonal workers often provide the flexibility required without the long-term commitment of permanent staff. However, without careful selection, especially when hiring in high volumes, the risk of workplace misconduct can skyrocket.
The Holiday Season Hiring Challenge
The U.S. Department of Labor data shows that the retail sector alone typically scales up by 450,00 workers over the holiday season, with an additional 350,000 workers in warehousing and delivery roles. Recent headlines ahead of the 2023 season anticipate the fluctuation in headcount, with Amazon.com announcing that it will bring on 250,000 workers and Target planning to hire an additional 100,000 to commence the holiday rush starting this October.
Given that avoiding the hiring (or termination) of a toxic employee delivers twice the value to a business compared to hiring one superstar performer, or that 33 percent of corporate bankruptcies in the U.S. are tied to employee theft, the question arises: How can retailers that need to ramp up their seasonal workforce avoid the pitfalls of bringing on individuals prone to misconduct?
Proactive Worker Screening as the First Line of Protection
Technology solutions, such as automated online screening for candidates and newer due diligence tools, can be instrumental in weeding out individuals with a propensity for misconduct like employee theft. Innovative screening technologies offer a powerful way to identify the right temporary workers by uncovering misconduct that’s already happening. This is especially valuable for companies needing to onboard a large volume of workers to meet seasonal demands swiftly and thoroughly.
Research has shown that online behaviors, including content shared and language used on social media and in other public spaces, can highlight an individual's real-world behavior and job performance. By modernizing candidate screening with groundbreaking new technologies, including artificial intelligence, to carefully analyze thousands of online public sources and social media content and profiles as windows into an individual's character and behaviors, screening technologies today can reduce the risk of inadvertently hiring those exhibiting negative behaviors. This not only reduces the chances of workplace misconduct, but also ensures that a workforce aligns with a company's distinct culture and values.
In the digital age, when information travels fast, safeguarding a company’s brand (and bottom line) is essential. For those dealing with high-volume hiring to meet seasonal demands, leveraging compliant screening technology can help businesses navigate the potential minefields of real-world misconduct. Furthermore, such solutions can contribute to long-term cost savings by creating and sustaining an appealing workplace environment that employees will want to return to come next year’s busy season.
Empowering Better Hiring Decisions
With the holidays fast approaching, the challenge of making sound hiring decisions is paramount. By using technology to analyze online behavior as an indicator of misconduct, companies can make more informed hiring decisions while diminishing risks.
Returning to the state of workplace misconduct study, the only two industries that successfully passed the 5 percent rule — healthcare and nonprofit/government — deployed enhanced background screening for candidates. This shows that proactively evaluating candidates before hiring stands as a primary defense against workplace misconduct, and makes prudent hiring practices, including candidate screening, a critical strategic advantage during the expansion of a seasonal workforce.
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Ben Mones, is the co-founder and CEO of Fama, an AI-based solution that identifies problematic behavior among potential hires and current employees by analyzing publicly available online information. He founded Fama in 2015 to address the needs of organizations everywhere that are grappling with the challenges of protecting their workplace culture and preventing harassment.