Christine Lagendyk | 13 April, 2021

The food service industry is fast paced and continually changing. Add in high staff turnover rates and it can be challenging to keep up with the demands of this complex industry. While the food service industry can be lucrative, the costs associated with recruiting and training are substantial and it can take months to recoup the investment on a new hire. 

In this article, we’ll tell you how conducting background checks can improve employee retention rates and increase your bottom line by screening out high-risk employees, leaving you with qualified, trustworthy candidates to choose from.

Pre-Employment Screening

When you need to hire quickly, it’s tempting to skip the pre-employment screening process, but screening potential candidates and conducting background checks will help you find applicants who are not only qualified but can contribute to a safe work environment for your employees and customers.

Check References

Many food service industry employers don’t check references when they’ve found a candidate that meets their basic criteria because they don’t want to take the time but it’s an essential step in the hiring process.

Calling references can help you verify the accuracy of an applicant’s employment history and learn how they performed in their past jobs. Make a list of relevant questions to ask, such as: 

  • How long were they employed by you?
  • What position did they hold? 
  • What was your experience with them like?
  • What were their strengths and weaknesses?
  • Why did they leave?

If an applicant can’t provide any references, consider it a red flag. Hire only those applicants who have good references. 

Conduct a Background Check

A background check can reveal more about a candidate than just criminal history. It can also give you insight into a person’s character. This is especially critical in the food service industry where the opportunity for theft and fraudulent activity is often present.

3 Benefits of a Background Check in the Food Service Industry

Employee theft costs U.S. businesses billions of dollars each year. Because of the large amount of consumables in the food service industry, stealing isn’t limited to cash. Things such as food, alcohol, and equipment are also prone to theft.

In addition, sensitive customer information is often shared with food service employees, making customers vulnerable to credit card skimming and identity theft. With so much at stake, it’s critical to conduct background checks so you can to hire employees that are trustworthy. 

Here are 3 ways background checks can benefit your food service business:

  1. Reduce theft
  2. Reduce liability for negligent hiring
  3. Ensure a safe workplace for all employees and customers

7 Key Elements of Background Checks for the Food Service Industry

Regardless of which position you’re hiring for, background checks for the food service industry should always include these 7 essential elements:

  1. Person Search & Address History
    A person search uses the candidate’s social security number to verify their identity and establish that they are who they say they are. An address history search provides all names and all addresses associated with that number.
  2. Nationwide Criminal Background Check With Alias
    A nationwide criminal background check examines over half a billion records to report crimes prosecuted in state and local courts. Any aliases uncovered during the address search are also examined.
  3. Sex Offender Background Check
    A sex offender background check may identify candidates who are listed on a sex offender registry. The search can be nationwide or in a single state.
  4. Global Security Watch List
    The global watchlist may identify people who have been involved in suspicious or dangerous activities. While they may not have criminal records, their actions could reflect poorly on your business.
  5. County Criminal Courthouse Search
    Felony and misdemeanor criminal cases tried in local jurisdictions are housed at the county court, making county criminal courthouse searches one of the most complete sources for criminal records.
  6. International Background Check
    An international background check will help determine if candidates who’ve lived outside of the United States have criminal records in other countries.
  7. Driving Record Check
    Driving record checks are essential for employees who use their own vehicle, or a company vehicle, to make deliveries or perform other job-related driving duties. A driving record check will identify candidates with poor driving records due to traffic violations, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or unpaid parking tickets.

What to Do When a Red Flag Emerges

Background checks are a good way to screen out high-risk applicants but red flags shouldn’t automatically disqualify promising candidates from food service industry jobs.

If you see red flags in a background check, consider if they’re relevant to the position you are filling. For example, if the candidate has a driving record but the job they’ll be performing doesn’t require any driving, you may choose to overlook it. If the red flags are relevant, give the candidate an opportunity to explain the circumstances. 

If the background check turns up a criminal record, you may want to consider the following factors:

  • How old was the candidate when the offence occurred and were there any extenuating circumstances?
  • How much time has passed since the offence? What has the candidate done during that time? Have they been an asset to their community, maintained employment, and do they have good referrals? 
  • If the behavior for which the candidate was charged is repeated, would it pose a threat to your business, employees or customers?

Hiring Well Increases Your Bottom Line

A background check isn’t a pass or fail test but rather a tool that can help the food service industry make informed hiring decisions. 

Adding background checks to your hiring process will help you find qualified, trustworthy employees. When you hire employees who are a good fit for your business, you have a greater chance of keeping them for a prolonged period of time. Long-term employees are more efficient, contribute to a stable work environment, and form better customer relationships, all of which leads to greater success and a healthier bottom line. 

DISCLAIMER: The information provided is for general information only and does not constitute legal advice. 

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