The last thing any employer wants to deal with is an employee who routinely fails to follow rules. Disciplinary problems in the workplace can take a number of forms, from absenteeism and tardiness to theft and fraud. These fall under the umbrella of what are called Counterproductive Work Behaviors (CWBs). Anyone who has ever made a bad hire knows the high cost of those hiring mistakes, not just in terms of money but also productivity, morale, and sometimes even your company’s reputation.
Sadly there still isn’t a crystal ball or perfect algorithm that can help you foresee which employees will cause you future grief. However, there are a number of ways to reduce the risk of hiring the wrong person in the first place.
Background checks are one common tactic companies use to evaluate risk, but background checks don’t necessarily factor in some of the legal but still harmful workplaces behaviors such as tardiness, absenteeism, or general lack of effort.
Another way to gain insight into a candidate’s potential work behaviors is through reference checks. According to one survey, about 70% of employers conduct reference checks for every job candidate, with that number increasing the more senior the role becomes. Reference checks are not only useful for getting an outside perspective on a candidate, but they can also shed light on any past issues that you would never be able to identify from a resume or interview. When conducting reference checks, listen to what each reference has to say, and pay close attention to what types of references your candidates provide.
Another way to predict a candidate’s work style before you make a hiring decision is through pre-employment tests. Integrity tests, for instance, are designed to predict the likelihood that someone will engage in Counterproductive Work Behaviors. Integrity tests are one type of personality test that is used to evaluate a variety of qualities associated with productive and reliable employees, including conscientiousness, perseverance, integrity/honesty, and attitudes towards theft and fraud.
Companies that use integrity tests in the pre-hire stage can experience a dramatic reduction in counterproductive work behaviors. For example, one retailer used an integrity test to reduce disciplinary problems amongst their sales associate staff. The company was experiencing absenteeism, tardiness, theft, and time-wasting. After administering integrity tests, those who passed the test were 58% more likely to receive high rankings in discipline by their managers.
All of the strategies mentioned above are, of course, specifically related to the hiring process – in other words, using hiring strategies to select candidates who are less likely to have disciplinary problems. There are also a number of tactics you can use to reduce disciplinary problems post-hire, from shifting managerial style to adopting new organizational policies that curtail bad behaviors. But the hiring process is a great place to start experimenting with ways to increase your chances of hiring the right people for the job from the start.