Charity begins with the Pre-Employment check!

Lessons from the crises in the charity sector – the value of pre-employment checking

 Throughout 2017 and into 2018 we have seen countless revelations in respect of the conduct of individuals across different sectors from sport to the church to the movie industry, and now the third sector seems to be the latest to struggle with its responses to scandalous behaviours from its staff. Oxfam and Save the Children are of course the more high profile cases, but just like the movie industry, we should expect this one to shed light also on a few more skeletons in the closet.

Central to a number of these stories, below, is the principal of disclosure, where many individuals appear to have moved from one organisation to another within the sector with ease and without issue despite growing knowledge about inappropriate behaviours.

It does beg the big question of how, given their previous behaviours, the individuals involved have had the opportunity to secure important and public facing positions with their new employers.

And these are the cases we know about. What about those cases that have been successful at sweeping everything under the carpet, with individuals still in post – potentially still getting away with damaging behaviour?

How can the third sector shed light on this and improve its governance policies? Does this also raise issues about the quality and even the value of the pre-employment process? Was there a pre-employment process followed at all, or was it just an administrative tick box exercise? Or, no matter how effective the pre-employment process was, would such relevant information have ever been disclosed?

All employers have usually received the references which state only the positon, start and end dates. These bland factual based references do not give the new employer an understanding of character, performance or behaviour.

How can a prospective employer, and especially an employer such as a charity that has to be beyond reproach, peer beyond this bland factual wall?

A good pre-employment process is comprehensive. It not only verifies the individual’s identity and checks their stated employment dates, it also checks the character of the prospective employee. This process requires more than a few machine algorithms and automation much loved by recruiters these days. It requires the human touch and human judgement – a process that allows for digging a little deeper if something doesn’t seem right and if the statements on a candidate’s CV don’t seem to add up. Checking their character by speaking to character referees as well as previous employers, checking their qualifications and where appropriate their finances. These can all prove useful insights to establish a candidate’s character. But it’s also important to take this further. Technology these days means we all have our digital personas and lives, so by looking into a candidate’s social and digital presence can paint a picture of a person that no automated software can yet pick up on.

When an employer can glean a more comprehensive story of the individual, and from this an employer can be more confident that the person is not only right for the role but fits with their business culture and values. In a charity, values and integrity are paramount.

Unfortunately, in this rapidly moving world we now live in, organisations often put expediency first in their desire to snap up talent in an increasingly competitive market. This means they are still undervaluing the pre-employment process, and it can be a very costly mistake. In the case of Oxfam, rogue individuals are putting the very organisation itself at risk!

Whether you are a charity or a third sector company, or whether you are an SME or a global corporate, if you rely on processes that are no more than tick box exercises, you need to consider the risks. Recruiting staff, especially senior managers and executives is one of the biggest investments any organisation can make, not just in the costs of recruitment but in what impact that person has on the company when in post.

These revelations should act as a strong reminder that hiring talent is one of the most important business decisions they will make. If you don’t have a robust and forensic pre-employment process in place, what risk are exposing your company to and what could it do to your brand damage if you put a rogue employee in post? Is that a risk worth taking!


Signature HR carries out comprehensive pre-employment checks, with a range of services on offer. Call us today for an informal chat.




Recruitment Strategies for today’s workforce…


When you want to gain the best employees your recruitment and selection processes need to be the best…

Dynamic and thriving companies always hire the smartest people, their HR department spend time in finding the best ways to do this, that is why at Signature HR we offer the very best in Pre-employment screening.

Six out of ten employers have rejected a candidate, or failed to confirm an appointment because of an unfavourable reference. 
One of the reasons for the continued emphasis on reference checking is evidence that more job candidates are lying or exaggerating their achievements or experience on their CVs.
 This is more prevalent in the current tough economic climate as competition for each vacancy is significantly increased.

Take a look at this article from Forbes magazine for further insight into pre-employment screening:

What can we learn from the hiring practices of Facebook?

Recent revelations from Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, who announced that his biggest recruitment ‘decision maker’ is to ask himself not only if someone could work directly for him, but if he could work for them, caused a media storm.

Many recruiters, business owners and leaders were all quick to commend Zuckerberg on his powerful recruitment methodology, with a number calling for an industry wide ‘rethink’ of current recruitment practices. Many expected the recruitment industry to take heed of his trusted advice, and adopt their recruitment and subsequent HR polices accordingly.

But scratch below the surface and you begin to see some obvious holes that Zuckerberg’s statement has failed to acknowledge. Firstly, his comment only refers to staff who work directly underneath him. Zuckerberg’s policy, for example, wouldn’t work when recruiting graduates or other none executive positions as candidates here would not be working directly for Zuckerberg and visa versa.

Secondly Zuckerberg has overlooked the importance of effective team dynamics. For example, a marketing manager may wish to hire somebody very competent at a particular task but for whom they would never wish to work, or someone who might make a great employee, but would make a poor manager. In this instance it wouldn’t necessarily be a mistake to recruit that particular person. However following Zuckerberg’s strategy neither of these people, though competent, would be hired. Any successful team is comprised of a number of different personalities who possess a variety of complementary strengths. In an effective team, the whole should always be greater than the sum of its parts.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, Zuckerberg fails to recognise the importance of pre- employment screening. While many businesses may be quick to disregard the role effective pre-employment checks can offer, there is no denying that, when done correctly, pre-employment checks remain one of the most effective ways methods of ensuring a recruitment decision is the right one.

While Mark Zuckerberg’s statement certainly grabbed headlines, and in many respects caused the recruitment industry to sit up and take note; perhaps proving to be a useful catalyst for many firms to review and update outdated recruitment processes, unfortunately what it did not do was provide much needed industry context. Zuckerberg has failed to understand that while his fail-safe question may yield results for the Facebook brand, the stark reality is that poor screening following a simplistic approach to recruitment, as offered by Zuckerberg can be very costly to employers to rectify.

Time and time again employers make hiring decisions based on gut instinct, or in the case of Mark Zuckerberg, one single question. However, overlooking the importance of pre-employment screening can be extremely costly to your business both in terms of money, and your reputation. Comprehensive pre-employment screening embodies much more than a formal ID check. When carried out efficiently it can verify a candidate’s qualification or membership with any required professional bodies.

Pre-employment screens can also conduct DBS screening (Disclosure and Barring Service), formally known as a Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) check, to notify employers should a potential employee hold a criminal record or be the subject of any safeguarding issues. This is of particular importance should the position be public facing, or working closely with children or vulnerable adults.

At Signature HR we go beyond these expectations, working in close collaboration with our clients to offer a completely bespoke pre-employment screening service. We are able to conduct media and internet searches on candidates; for more specific job roles pre-employment screening may involve searching land registry and property searches. For higher level industry specific vacancies, employers may also require information on a candidate’s financial history, including any bankruptcy. This is particularly useful for any candidates entering a high-level position within a financial environment. After all, a successful hire cannot all boil down to one ‘magic’ question or to gut instinct.

The world of pre-employment, along with the recruitment industry it serves, is a complex one. But whatever recruitment strategy your business deploys, from Zuckerberg’s one question, to more formal recruitment methods, it is important to back it up both legally and professionally, ensuring your business continues to unearth talent.

Is presenteeism the new absenteeism?

The CIPD’s 2012 Absence Management Survey has shown that the average level of employee absence has fallen by almost a day.

Effects of presenteeism in the workplace

Although on the face of it this is seen as very welcome news for employers and the economy in general, but could it be masking the fact that because of the uncertain economic conditions and the volatile job market employees are working through their illnesses.

This so called ‘presenteeism’ can be as dangerous and destructive as absenteeism. As employers there can be a massive impact on individuals feeling so insecure in their jobs that they come to work ill. This can have a health and safety impact, for example those working with machinery or those required to drive as part of their jobs, don’t forget your employer duty of care!

There is also the impact on productivity and staff engagement, a workforce of individuals not at their best because they feel they have to come to work or risk being fired or made redundant create a negative atmosphere and this is therefore counter productive.

For employees to flourish they need to be engaged with the organisation, they need to be able to relax and concentrate on how they can add value. Feeling under pressure to come to work can quickly become infectious in an organisation and that will lead to low morale and good staff moving on to better employers.

Lets be clear we are not talking about someone working through a cold or a minor ailment we are taking about people suffering from significant life impacting illnesses, the additional pressure brought about by not feeling able to “phone in sick” can only further impact both an employees physical and mental health, in turn potentially storing long term serious issues for the organisation.

Companies need to ensure in these pressurised times that they do not cut back on occupational heath provisions but are ready to support their employees with the additional life pressures they are encountering, only by doing this will they realise the true value of their employees contributions.

Telegraph Media Group

“We originally engaged the services of Signature HR in 2010 to conduct our Exit Interview process, since then I have been so impressed with their professionalism and dedication to our account that we have extended our partnership with them to cover pre-employment screening and employee health checks.

Signature HR gives the Telegraph Media Group what it needs in a partner, someone who is in tune with our business who we trust to protect our brand giving us true insight that allows to take commercial decisions.

They are an invaluable partner to us.”

Richard Morgan – Chief HR Officer, Telegraph Media Group

Signature HR: Managing the Employment Journey

Employment Journey

You wouldn’t start any journey by not knowing where you wanted to end up. You would plan how you are going to get there

The employment journey is no different,; if you want to hire and retain the best talent to support the achievement of your business objectives it is vital that you have the right ‘Employee route map’ in place to support this journey.

At Signature HR we specialise in helping companies navigate the employment journey. Through our pre-employment screening, health checks and surveys to exit interviews we can help and support your business in making the right decisions from recruiting and retaining the best talent to gaining valuable insight to allow you to shape your people strategy.

To discuss how we can help your organisation through the employment journey call one of the team on 024 7699 7783.

Bridge PR

Signature HR provides us with our human resource function. As a small company we cannot afford an in-house specialist, and Signature provides us with the services we need as a growing business. They have excellent HR knowledge and experience, but more importantly they really know how to deal with staffing issues, whatever these may be. We find the staff at Signature to be very approachable and friendly, and they really put everyone at their ease, even in the most stressful situations such as interviews. We love their professional but warm and friendly approach, and look forward to having a long and happy relationship with Signature as our human resource specialist providers.

Denise Taylor, Director of Bridge PR & Media Services Limited.