Avoiding Bad Holiday Hires

If you are like many organizations, you likely haven’t completed all of your holiday hiring. That’s because hiring is a real challenge, even when you don’t need twice the help as soon as possible. Many have the instinct to simply fill those slots as easily as they can. According to at least one expert, however, that might not be the best approach.

Source: Llupco Smokovski / shutterstock

I recently spoke with Yves Lermusi, CEO at Checkster, about what organizations can do to make sure their holiday hires don’t end up being a major liability.

HR Daily Advisor: When it comes to hiring for the holidays, employers are kind of between a rock and a hard place, right?

Lermusi: Yes, they are. The National Retail Federation (NRF) predicts that retailers could hire up to 590,000 seasonal workers to meet the demands of the busiest time of the year. The pressure of the season can fuel a strong sense of urgency among hiring managers to make quick decisions, often without taking a deeper dive into the background and, perhaps more significantly, neglecting to reference-check potential employees

HR Daily Advisor: With the critical need to onboard temporary or seasonal employees quickly, is it OK for employers to take a few shortcuts?

Lermusi: The pressure to remain fully staffed around the holidays, particularly in retail, often drives companies to take shortcuts. A company’s best defense against hiring fraudsters is through a complete background and reference check—and temporary seasonal positions are no exception.

HR Daily Advisor: What are some of the serious concerns you have about rushing this process?

Lermusi: While thoroughly vetting candidates through background and reference checks may seem like an upfront investment in resources, it ultimately helps avoid potential fraud and other serious problems. It may be the time of year for celebrations, but it’s not the time to lighten up on hiring due diligence, especially during the high-risk holiday season.

HR Daily Advisor: Tell me about these “fraudsters.”

Lermusi: Unfortunately, applicant fraud is relatively common. A fraudster deceives others, typically by stretching the truth when providing background and employment-related information to potential employers. Recruiters who verify candidate information through digital reference-checking can uncover mistruths about length of employment, salaries, former titles, degrees, and more.

HR Daily Advisor: How damaging can employees like this be? Is it just bad customer service they offer?

Lermusi: A bad hire can lower overall morale, give poor customer service, or fall drastically short of retail sales goals. Other possible financial fiascos resulting from a bad hire include contributing to inventory shrinkage by stealing merchandise, shorting registers, offering inappropriate discounts, or failing to charge friends for items. It is estimated that inventory shrinkage costs U.S. retailers over $45 billion each year, with roughly 42% perpetrated by employees.

HR Daily Advisor: How can employers get background checks and due diligence done quickly?

Lermusi: While there are many tactics that can ensure a successful hire, the most important actions are screening, screening, and more screening. The new digital reference-checking process gets to the truth about candidates and saves hiring managers time, money, and stress in the long run.

HR Daily Advisor: What other advice can you give?

Lermusi: My advice for hiring the best talent includes:

  • Recruit existing customers who are already familiar with your brand and theoretically have developed a loyalty to the company and its products.
  • Ask your best employees for referrals. If they are a good fit for your company, they may have friends or family who will be, too. The trusted employee is also already a reliable reference for the potential candidate.
  • Retirees can be a great resource. They have built-in flexibility and may love and excel at the social interactions that come with a seasonal retail job.
  • Conduct face-to-face or video chat interviews whenever possible. Particularly in retail, interpersonal skills and likability matter a lot and cannot necessarily be coached, especially in the short term.
  • Screen, screen, and screen! The process of checking references and getting to the truth about a candidate is the best way to protect yourself from a bad hire.