It is a known fact that almost all organisations do reference checks of candidates prior to their joining. However, it has been observed lately that many organisations are getting second reference checks done of their current employees after every few years, during the course of their employment. Yasmin Taj explores this emerging trend.
The first question that needs to be asked is, why is there a need for organisations to conduct a reference or background check of an employee after he/she has already been working for them for a while? “An individual may get involved in a criminal activity or may get into drugs in course of his/her employment with an organisation and may not disclose it to them. It is this kind of people that organisations are turning their focus to,” expresses Ajay Trehan, founder and CEO, AuthBridge, a background screening company.
According to Ashok, advisory board member, R&R Salons Pvt. Ltd., “Having hired or recruited, there are different decision points for an organisation on a few of their critical resources like promotion/elevation to a new role, job rotation to a bigger role, which is sensitive to financial integrity, people sensitiveness, etc. These roles would require a different set of expectations from the new incumbent.”
Nipa Modi, CEO-HR Services & CMO, CRP Technologies (India) Pvt. Ltd further states, “There are a few companies undertaking this as a part of their compliance check and conduct a criminal check or a KYE (Know Your Employee) check, specifically for current employees.”
Many organisations believe that getting reference checks for a second time around does have a lot of benefits. “While performance appraisal and performance management systems give a perspective of an individual’s performance in the current job, reference checks can give an indication of how a person has approached a similar situation in his/her past job, which can be mapped for a similar job in the future,” opines Ashok adding, “Reference checks results come in handy for deputation of a resource for international assignments, board appointments, etc.” According to Vijay Gupta, vice chancellor, Lovely Professional University, “A reference check is beneficial, because with time, the responsibilities of the employee increase and the reference checks done earlier might have been done keeping different quality requirements in mind.”
Trehan opines, “There are four clear benefits that I think carrying checks regularly, post employment provides to an organisation. Firstly, it ensures that employees, especially those in crucial jobs have continued to have clean antecedents in course of their employment. Secondly, due to a lack of a formal criminal record database in India, there could be occasions wherein a criminal activity that the individual was involved in, prior to being offered employment was not in public domain when he/she was hired; this needs to be checked. Thirdly, a lot of organisations find it difficult to carry out all kinds of checks at the time of hiring due to cost issues. They can stagger these checks over the tenure of the employee’s existence in the organisation. Fourthly, employees continue to add more qualifications or change their addresses in course of an employment. Employers need to ensure that the new antecedents are verified as and when disclosed by the employee.”
There can be instances of negative feedback after a reference check is done for the second time. What should an organisation do in such a case? According to Trehan, “Negative feedback needs to be treated with a lot of sensitivity as the employee is already in the system. If the feedback is negative due to lack of disclosure(s) from the employee, then he/she needs to be charged officially. If the nature of feedback can have a severe impact on the role that he/she is in, the organisation may take a view to downsize his/her role or simply let him/her go.”
Gupta feels that if the result of the reference check is negative, then a re-verification must be done as to why the result was not obtained previously. “If the reverification shows serious flaws and the employee is involved in some serious issue, then asking the employee to leave would be a smart decision,” he suggests. According to Modi, “It would all depend on the nature of the negative feedback. If it is severe, organisations do take stringent decisions as this is the objective of the reference check and would act as a deterrent to others.”
So, even if conducting reference checks on current employees sounds like a rather dicey thing to do, most organisations have come to realise that the benefits of getting them done are way more than the disadvantages. Even employees have now begun to accept such practices as the intention behind it is good for both, the employer and employee.
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