Employers Experiment with Removing Barriers to Hiring, From Resumes to Background Checks

Across the nation, employers are dealing with significant strain due to a pandemic talent crunch. According to an annual talent shortage survey conducted by the ManpowerGroup, 69 percent of companies are currently reporting a talent shortage or difficulty hiring–the highest percentage since ManpowerGroup started conducting the survey 15 years ago. 

As the pandemic continues to reshape how many Americans think about work and careers, employers in most industries struggle to fill open positions. While some employers are trying traditional strategies to attract candidates, such as raising their salaries or improving their benefits packages, others are exploring a new option: actively removing “barriers to employment.”

The average hiring process at American businesses includes a job application, a resume, an interview, and a background screening that incorporates criminal history searches, employment history verifications, reference checks, and other elements. Some hiring processes also demand that candidates submit cover letters, participate in two or more interviews rather than just one, submit work sample portfolios, complete skills tests, and more.

A growing trend among employers is excising most of these steps from the hiring process.

One example is The Body Shop, a cosmetics company that in September announced plans to implement a policy it called “open hiring”. Previously, The Body Shop piloted open hiring for seasonal positions. The company has now expanded the practice to “serve as a permanent recruitment model for all customer consultant and entry level positions in retail stores and in the brand's distribution centers.” 

Per the press release announcing the expansion, open hiring practices “promote a systemic, fair approach to attracting, recruiting, selecting, and onboarding employees through the elimination of common barriers to employment, such as background checks, drug screenings, and previous experience.” The company “asks candidates three simple questions” and then hires on a first-come, first-served basis.

Another example is Greyston Bakery in Yonkers, New York, which makes the brownies in Ben & Jerry's Chocolate Fudge Brownie ice cream. According to ABC News, Greyston Bakery has followed an open hiring policy since its inception in 1982. Similar to the policy at The Body Shop, Greyston Bakery’s hiring protocol allows candidates to apply for jobs without filling out applications, sitting for interviews, or going through background checks. “All they have to do is put their name on a list, and when the next job becomes available, no questions asked," Joe Kenner, the company’s president, told ABC News.

Employers considering these policies to attract workers during the talent crunch should tread carefully. While eliminating barriers to employment is admirable, companies can also take on significant risks by not looking at a criminal background screening or employment history. 

A bad hire can be extremely costly for a business. An unqualified worker can hurt productivity, damage morale, and impact workplace safety. A candidate with a violent criminal history can pose dangers to fellow employees or the public. Failing to vet for these issues and others could leave employers vulnerable to negligent hiring lawsuits.

A backgroundchecks.com, we work with employers to provide background screening services that offer vital levels of protection without creating undue employment barriers for prospective employees. For instance, our background check reports always exclude arrest history information, as arrests on their own are not proof of guilt. 

We also offer a wide range of resources in our Learning Center, which helps businesses to ensure compliance with the federal, state, and local laws that provide fair chances to all candidates, including those with criminal histories. Contact us today to learn how we can help your business implement an employee vetting process that is protective without being unfair or unjust.

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Michael Klazema

About Michael Klazema The author

Michael Klazema is the lead author and editor for Dallas-based backgroundchecks.com with a focus on human resource and employment screening developments

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