Two-thirds of UK companies fail to check employee references ahead of start dates

Posted On 27 Oct 2014
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According to new research conducted by HireRight” the leading global due diligence organisation” most UK companies are failing to check references before new employees start in their roles and are struggling to respond to other companies’ reference requests. The Point of Reference research suggests that two-thirds (66%) of new employees begin work before their reference checks are complete. Two-in-five (39%) of Human Resources (HR) function leaders believe this is normal practice within their industry. However, such checks are absolutely vital. The HireRight study reveals that more than half (58%) of successful applications contain errors*. In tandem, one third (36%) of HR leaders admit they need a clearer way of identifying job candidates with malicious intent. Steve Girdler, managing director (EMEA) at HireRight, explained:” References reveal important details about an individual’s history and help employers ensure they can trust the people they allow to work with their customers, clients and colleagues. By failing to carry out due diligence before people start work, companies risk hiring individuals unable to fulfil the duties of their respective roles, who may commit fraud or theft or even damage customer relationships.” Girdler added:” A great deal of damage can be done between the moment an employee starts at a new company and when referencing requests are completed.” ‘Administrative burden’ on HR Departments HireRight’s Point of Reference research results are based on the perspectives of senior HR leaders in some of the UK’s biggest companies. The results also highlight that reference checking is an administrative burden on many HR Departments at a time when they’re already struggling to find enough hours in the day for important strategic work. One third (31%) of HR Departments are ‘bogged down’ with responding to queries about references. In a quarter (27%) of cases, employees have complained to their managers about the amount of time they spend working on such requests. Many HR Departments simply don’t have the spare capacity when one third (34%) of their time is spent on administrative tasks. HR leaders themselves estimate they spend an average of two hours and 12 minutes every day on what might be described as ‘low value’ work. This latest Point of Reference research is based on detailed interviews with 140 senior HR leaders in both regulated and non-regulated UK companies boasting more than 5,000 employees. *The inaccuracies figure quoted is based on the analysis of data from candidate due diligence programmes, with this quarter’s findings focused on 121,000 checks of almost 34,000 applications between July and September 2014

About the Author
Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI, Editor, Risk UK (Pro-Activ Publications) Beginning his career in professional journalism at The Builder Group in March 1992, Brian was appointed Editor of Security Management Today in November 2000 having spent eight years in engineering journalism across two titles: Building Services Journal and Light & Lighting. In 2005, Brian received the BSIA Chairman’s Award for Promoting The Security Industry and, a year later, the Skills for Security Special Award for an Outstanding Contribution to the Security Business Sector. In 2008, Brian was The Security Institute’s nomination for the Association of Security Consultants’ highly prestigious Imbert Prize and, in 2013, was a nominated finalist for the Institute's George van Schalkwyk Award. An Honorary Fellow of The Security Institute, Brian serves as a Judge for the BSIA’s Security Personnel of the Year Awards and the Securitas Good Customer Award. Between 2008 and 2014, Brian pioneered the use of digital media across the security sector, including webinars and Audio Shows. Brian’s actively involved in 50-plus security groups on LinkedIn and hosts the popular Risk UK Twitter site. Brian is a frequent speaker on the conference circuit. He has organised and chaired conference programmes for both IFSEC International and ASIS International and has been published in the national media. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk UK at Pro-Activ Publications in July 2014 and as Editor of The Paper (Pro-Activ Publications' dedicated business newspaper for security professionals) in September 2015. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk Xtra at Pro-Activ Publications in May 2018.