Ask an Expert: Background Checks: Worth the Cost

Tips on employee screening and managing office Internet use.

By Joel Schlessinger, MD
 

Do you do background checks for job candidates?
We started doing background checks by a local company a few years ago. As a result of these checks, we identified multiple employees whom we would have hired but declined to make an offer due to information we discovered during a background check. For example, we have found individuals who had felonies on their record and restraining orders against them. It is a sad comment, but many of these individuals were dishonest until they realized that we were serious about doing a background check on them.

It is my earnest recommendation that you invest the $25 (or so) that it costs to perform a background check on any job candidate. One caveat: the information is only as good as the company that performs the check. While we have been pleased in general, information is sometimes incomplete and other steps are required to acquire information from other jurisdictions where the potential employee may have lived.

Are there any steps you can take to keep employees off the Internet while on company time?
A recent survey at Hubpages.com reported that the fourth most common reason employees are fired is due to internet use during work hours. Eight percent of companies have reported firing employees for Internet usage. We are not immune to this and have also terminated employees due to inappropriate excess usage of the Internet while on company time.

During this digital age, the Internet is one way of communicating with family and friends. During breaks it is clearly one way that employees may choose to spend their time and may be acceptable in limited amounts during the day. The key, however, is to determine what is and is not acceptable behavior.

We have a clear notice that personal Internet use is grounds for immediate dismissal. We have also blocked certain sites from being accessed while at work, such as YouTube and other social media sites. This doesn’t mean that we haven’t had challenges, but it makes it harder to “steal time” while on the job.

Additionally, having a clear cut policy outlined in the employee manual and letting employees know that their emails and Internet history while on company time can and will be monitored is critical. If only to avoid potential virus contamination of the computer or billing system, this is a good idea.

 

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About Practical Dermatology

Practical Dermatology is the monthly publication that provides coverage of medical care, cosmetic advancements, and practice management for clinicians in the field. With straight-forward, how-to advice from experts in various fields, we strive to enhance quality of care and improve the daily operation of dermatology practices.