|By Elizabeth Johnson
The Walt Disney World© Company began conducting criminal background checks on all new employees this past summer, after a cook at one of its Florida hotels was charged with raping a 16-year-old tourist.
Mirage Resorts tested 12,000 potential employees for drug use as part of the application process for its Las Vegas resorts.
Properties of Ramada Franchise Systems use a personality index to match applicants with the jobs for which they are best suited.
In today’s tight labor market, it may be tempting to fill positions with the first applicant who meets your basic requirements. But taking the time to find the best person for the job can help you reduce turnover, increase productivity, and possibly avoid a lawsuit for negligent hiring in the event of a crime committed by an employee.
Pre-employment screenings are a way to discover important information that can influence the hiring decisions you make. Types of screenings include previous work/reference checks, criminal background checks, drug screening, skills testing, and personality testing.
According to the U.S. Full-Service, Deluxe and Luxury Hotel Benchmarking Study conducted by the Educational Institute of AH&MA and KPMG Peat Marwick, checking employment references is the most pervasive type of pre-employment screening conducted by those surveyed (99.6 percent). In contrast, jobs skills testing and personality testing of applicants were the least common hiring practices used by the surveyed properties (17.6 percent and 12.1 percent, respectively). Nearly one-third of the properties did not conduct criminal background checks and 59 percent did not perform drug testing on applicants.
The study noted that more thorough screening could help decrease involuntary turnover. For instance, one of the top reasons given for employee dismissal was drug and alcohol use—an employee behavior that could possibly be detected prior to employment by performing drug screening and criminal background checks.
In addition, absenteeism and tardiness, which ranked first and third among the top reasons for employee dismissal, are tendencies that could be identified through quality pre-employment personality testing. The researchers noted, “It is a much wiser fiscal strategy to invest more time and money into the selection process than to have to terminate the individual after a much larger employment investment has been made.”
Loews Hotels used a series of pre-employment screenings to hire the best employees for its new Loews Miami Beach Hotel. Approximately 3,600 applicants began the process, which included a basic eligibility screening, a 45-minute in-depth session with 50 questions designed to assess personality traits and technical skills, and for those who made it that far, drug testing and background checks. At the end of the five-day hiring event, Loews had hired the top 12.5 percent of applicants for line-level, supervisory, and management positions at the new hotel.
Some properties use personality tests, such as The Reid Report, produced by Chicago-based Reid Psychological Systems, to assess integrity, safety, substance abuse, and personal achievement. Others, such as Ramada, use the Predictive Index distributed by PI Management Resources, to learn more about applicants’ personality traits and motivational drives.
The SecurResort 2000 Pre-Employment Biographical Questionnaire is one
Applicants self-disclose information in biographical categories that include: harassment history, violence history, guest relations, criminal background, illegal drug use, work performance history, workplace theft, discrimination of EEO groups, and workplace safety. Employers receive a biographical report of the applicant’s disclosures instantly with their computer version or within 15 minutes by fax, enabling them to make informed employment decisions.
“Many hotel companies will take the time to run checks on management level applicants, but not on hourly employees,” said Clark. “They figure turnover is going to be high, so why should they bother. They don’t realize that if they took the time to screen applicants, their turnover would be lower and the quality of their employees would be higher. Giving in to the ‘warm body’ method of filling positions hurts business, hurts employees, and hurts our industry.”
Clark shared the results from a recent screening of more than 1,700 applicants for a major national lodging chain. Nearly 500 applicants admitted to having stolen from an employer in the past two years. Another 257 admitted to recent drug use, and 36 admitted to daily use of an illegal drug other than marijuana. Six percent—114 applicants said they had yelled at a customer in the past two years, and 29 admitted hitting a supervisor or customer.
“As an employer, wouldn’t you want to know this information before you
hire someone? Employers must uncover an applicant’s positive and negative
history, and this can be done by asking them hard-hitting questions correctly
and consistently,” said Clark. “Every expert agrees that the best
predictor of future behavior and job performance is the past. By conducting
pre-employment screenings that focus on past behavior, you make the workplace
safer for our most important assets, our employees and guests.”
This article originally appeared in Lodging magazine.
For information on recruiting, retention, and training from the Educational Institute, contact email@example.com.
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