Tackling the Recruitment Risks in the Not-For-Profit Sector

Posted on 07 March 2017 by Mike Brett in Human Resources

Not-for-profits of all sizes can use the global online candidate referencing system Xref to protect themselves against fraud and breaches in discrimination and privacy while saving time and money.

The not-for-profit sector undoubtedly has its unique challenges. However, at the heart of any organisation, the key priorities remain the same – ensuring productivity and an optimal service for end users by finding, securing and retaining the best people to be successful. And that quest for success is arguably more important for not-for-profit organisations, given the sensitive nature of the problems many are tackling.

Finding the right people is not just vital for commercial gain, but also to ensure that the service delivered to potentially vulnerable individuals is of consistently high standards and that the valuable funds spent on personnel is defendable.

But how can any organisation guarantee that a recruit will be a success? To be blunt, without a magic eight ball, there really is no guarantee, but there are steps that can be taken to ensure that an organisation is as well-placed as it can be to make good hiring decisions.

One of those steps is streamlining and bullet-proofing the reference checking process. After all, a candidate may be able to represent themselves well on paper or during an interview, but it’s the people who have worked with them previously that will be able to validate or question their claims.

The reality is that many not-for-profit organisations aren’t doing reference checking well because they don’t have the vast recruitment teams seen in large corporate organisations. They are relying on archaic, manual, phone-based methods of collecting the data, and they have no measures in place to ensure they are even speaking to legitimate referees. Not only is this wasting valuable time and resources, it is also putting NFPs at significant risk of making a bad hiring decision and employing someone without the skills, experience and values that align with the critical role of the organisation.

Xref recently conducted research to demonstrate just how serious this issue is. Although it’s somewhat socially accepted that job seekers will bend the truth a little when applying for work, the results of the survey, which included responses from 1,000 Australian job seekers, highlighted the alarming number of people willing to deceive potential employers.

So, what were the key findings and what do they mean for the not-for-profit sector?

1. Australian job seekers are willing to “fake it to make it”

The research found that 71 percent of respondents admitted to having exploited flaws in the reference checking process, most commonly by avoiding choosing someone who might give a bad reference (56 percent) and choosing an individual likely to provide a good reference, rather than the most appropriate person (51 percent). These statistics aren’t so alarming until you hear that 42 percent also admitted to having deliberately lied to a potential employer, through exaggeration and misrepresentation, and most worryingly of all 23 percent of respondents were willing to admit they’d actively encouraged a referee to lie on their behalf.

Although one would like to think those looking to work in the not-for-profit sector would be a reputable bunch, the desire to land the perfect role will unfortunately often outweigh moral values. The result is an immense risk for not-for-profit organisations, should the worst happen, they would have little in the way of an audit trail to defend their hiring decisions if traditional reference checking processes were used.

2. Employers are also failing to comply

Beyond the issues associated with candidates, Xref also found that inconsistencies and lack of experience conducting reference checking led to 29 percent of those who had acted as a referee being asked discriminatory questions about the candidate. These included the candidate’s age (15 percent), whether the candidate has children (11 percent), their marital status (10 percent) and their sexual orientation (7 percent).

The issues of equal opportunity and discrimination are high on the agenda for any modern organisation, but none more so than the not for profits, which would come under huge scrutiny should a candidate be seen to have been turned away illegally.

3. Resources are being wasted and talent lost

With the ease at which candidates can apply for multiple roles, it is rarely the case that an organisation will have no competition for the best talent available. We found that 84 percent of respondents had applied for two or more jobs in the past two years, and 30 percent had applied for 10 or more.

What makes this more worrying is that 42 percent of candidates had abandoned their job applications, specifically due to delays at the reference-checking stage.

Getting that process right while being able to complete it efficiently, is absolutely critical in ensuring you get the best people through the door before they go elsewhere. Given the constant scrutiny on not for profit spending, money wasted on recruitment processes that are seen to deliver no results due to their inefficiencies would ring alarm bells for internal leaders and regulators alike.

4. Reference checking is a critical process regarded as a chore

Picking up the phone to discuss a candidate is often left to the most junior person on the team, given it’s laborious and time-consuming nature. It’s seen as a burden and a distraction from other more valuable tasks. Perhaps because of this, Xref’s research identified that 19 percent of references go completely unchecked.

When time and money is tight, it can be tempting to cut corners to get people through the door. The irony is that when the process is not done properly, it can actually take longer, produce less insight, and put the organisation at risk in the long-term.

For a sector in need of efficiency, validity and accuracy, the use of automated secure solutions – such as Xref – to overcome the risks and downfalls of tired old business processes – such as reference checking – will ensure that NFPs not only survive but thrive into the future.

 

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