Background screening and other credentials verification processes represents a vital cog in the wheel that turns South Africa’s retail market.
This is the view of specialists in the field of credential verification at Managed Integrity Evaluation (MIE), a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Ideco Group and established credentials verification provider in South Africa.
Ina van der Merwe, CEO at MIE, says operators within retail often fall victim to theft, whether it be casual or "petty" theft (stealing money from cash registers, for example) or large-scale serious theft (robbery of stock, manipulating information, or even various forms of fraud).
“Retail is traditionally a human resource intensive environment and is dominated by processes involving cash transactions, stock and employee management. It is often targeted by opportunists because of the amount of processes in place, particularly those that involve monies,” Van der Merwe explains.
This is why credentials verification services and background checks on staff has emerged as a priority for decision makers.
“Background checks are cost effective – and the ability to safeguard resources and protect the business far outweighs the price of investment,” says Van der Merwe. “The fact is that from a human resource point of view, it can be difficult to enforce disciplinary procedures in the event of theft, for example."
MIE’s viewpoint is that by not investing in background screening, the employer is effectively entrusting his or her business to strangers.
“Background screening means that you have a valid ID for the person, you have a valid address for them, you have checked to see if there are any past offences committed – and how often. You have information from previous employers about the person’s conduct."
More specifically the employer can also acquire retail employment history checks, which is a service that confirms whether an individual ever worked within the industry. Details such as locations, employment numbers, duration of their contract with the employers can all be verified.
Management at MIE advocates that decision makers not only conduct pre-employment screening, but also post-employment screening.
“Post-employment screening is powerful and can be used to check that the status of an employee is concurrent with what it was upon their appointment. It is important because situations and circumstances change.
"As an example a long list of default judgments on someone’s credit record could be indicative of a growing, unmanageable problem – and, by rationale deduction, there may be an inclination for the person concerned to steal,” Van der Merwe adds.