In today’s world marketplace the crime and corruption within the business sector, and the country at large, is a real threat and concern for many South African business owners and managers. There seems to be a real surge of attempts at increasing security and protecting companies and businesses from potential criminal threats. What most don’t realise is that, often, their biggest threat comes from within.

Even with highly skilled and trained Human Resources (HR) personnel, it is possible for unsavoury employees to get through the cracks of the hiring process. Many of these prospective employees lie on their CVs and know what to say in the room to make a good impression and get hired. So how do companies strengthen their hiring process, while ensuring that those currently hired by the company aren’t a threat?

Kyle Condon, Managing Director of D&K Management Consultants recommends that all companies conduct appropriate employee background screening. “What most don’t realise is just how intensive these screening processes need to be. There are crucial elements that need to be included in a background screening to ensure that it is effective,” explains Condon.

The most effective employee background screening is done when the HR department of a company joins forces with industry specialists that provide these services. This is because the industry specialists often have resources and expertise that are not always available to a company’s HR department. Together they can create a team that will give the business the strongest protection against the criminal employee threat.

Condon continues to explain that current and prospective employees should be vetted through the application of thorough questioning, analytical thinking and critical exploration. Employee CVs should be screened, cross referenced and intensive fact-checking should be carried out. “The vetting process is extensive for a reason,” explains Condon. “It has been designed to ensure optimal security and to effectively minimise risk”.

The process outlined by Condon is as follows:

Firstly, there is the background screening, here the employee’s background needs to be screened. Employees’ and/or prospective employees’ factual information (such as work history, work permits, level of education, validating banking and financial details, and their criminal records) need to be reviewed. An employee screening service provider should also do a more comprehensive background screening. This is imperative in determining whether a current or prospective employee is an asset or liability. A comprehensive screening should include looking into the employees’ identity, habits, vices and lifestyle, market reputation, their true level of experience, and their address history.

Secondly, personal due diligence should be carried out. This should include verifying an employees’ personal information and preferences. Through personal due diligence a company can ascertain whether the employee is a good fit for the business culturally, as well as whether the employees’ goals align with those of the organisation.

Thirdly, criminal record verification should be carried out whereby employees’ or prospective employees’ fingerprints are submitted to the Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS). The employees’ criminal record is confirmed, electronically, against the South African Police Services (SAPS) database. This helps to reduce the risk of organisations being exposed to employees with iniquitous pasts, or nefarious intentions.

“These are the first three most crucial steps in employee background screening. As an employee screening service provider, we would follow these steps up with services such as a polygraph test to validate given information on CVs and so forth. If you think about the fact that these employees are within your company daily, often with access to your most vital information, it is no secret why taking the essential steps to make sure they aren’t a threat is so vital,” concludes Condon.