Advice from the FSB: Securing the right staff

The Federation of Small Businesses is the UK’s largest campaigning pressure group promoting and protecting the interests of the self-employed and owners of small firms. Formed in 1974, it now has around 200,000 members nationally, 5,000 of those in Greater Manchester and north Cheshire.

p14 fsb Simon Edmondson2

Simon Edmondson, FSB Regional Chairman, writes…

MOST SMALL business owners will typically cite their staff as their most precious commodity. And rightly so as the staff are what makes that business tick – literally.

Good staff quite often means good business prospects and a happy future. However, the same is true for the opposite: bad staff, bad business prospects.

So how do you weed out the wheat from the chaff, the good apples versus the rotten ones? You can make a start by checking references thoroughly. You wouldn’t let any random stranger in to your home without first finding out a bit about them, so why would you do the same at your business?

Unfortunately, quite often I speak to small business owners who tell me a story that’s happened to them or recount an anecdote about another, due to having a bad member of staff, and the negative impact they had on the business and other staff.

Last summer research undertaken by the FSB involving some 1,800 firms showed a shocking 17 per cent had uncovered reference fraud. Who knows the number of uncovered cases?

At the time we wrote to all our members, urging them to make sure they carry out the proper checks, and with the seasonal working season about to get underway here in the UK, we are urging the same now.

The scale of fraudulent referencing taking place is worrying, as getting the wrong candidate can have a catastrophic impact on smaller companies.

With nearly one in five of our members having received applications with bogus references, it is clear small businesses must be on their guard and take steps to check the employment history of candidates.

Our previous research has also shown it’s not just the lower levels of employee grades where this is a problem. While 40 per cent of dodgy references are for entry level positions, a further 40 per cent were for mid-level positions, 12 per cent for management positions and two per cent for director level jobs. It’s astonishing to think somebody with director level responsibilities – including financial power – could be in post by deception, but it happens.

To tackle this kind of fraud, simple background checks should be carried out. Always contact people listed on CVs as referees. Always ask to see official qualification certificates, going back to GCSE or O Levels. And absolutely get in touch with the last two firms the candidate’s worked for. For those starting fresh from education, give their last school or college a call.


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