Screeningly yours

Features, Hospitality Trends

Showing a greater level of awareness now while recruiting people, hotels are taking the help of professional agencies in determining the antecedents of employees, says Syed Ameen Kader.

The background screening of prospective employees has become a very crucial task for hotels, especially post 26/11.

Unlike other industries such as IT, finance, and engineering, which have been using the services of professional agencies for quite some time now, the hospitality industry has only started to do so in the last three-four years.

However, hotels have been doing the screening on their own through cross-checking with references provided by candidates.

Though many in the industry accept that outsourcing the job to a professional agency can certainly help in examining details like addresses and criminal records, they would still rely on doing the reference check on their own when it comes to assessing the professional credentials of the candidate.

“There are certain aspects of background such as address proof, criminal records, and other information, which are not easy to gain. It would be very welcome for a professional company to research on these because it is not necessarily within our competence to find out.

But if you are looking to assess the job competence, I would rely on an ultimate reference check from my own network of associates. I think a professional agency would be handicapped in this,” said Ashwin Shirali, regional director, human resources, Accor Hotels, India.

He said although they have tie-ups with professional agencies for doing background checks, that is limited only to checking the objective facts of candidates.

Hemant Shinde, manager, human resources, Taj Lands End, Mumbai, said: “Looking at the current situation and insecurity all over the place, if it (background screening) is assigned to a separate agency which can concentrate exclusively on that job, we can definitely get better results.”

He said though they had not appointed any agency earlier, they were doing the reference check of candidates very diligently, and they had not come across any cases of discrepancy so far. However, the hotel has now engaged the services of a professional agency because the screening is done with advanced methods.

Another hotel in Mumbai said they are also keen on background screening since it has now become relevant and necessary for their security.

“We do take the help of professional agencies for background screening as well as do so in-house. We take a police verification of every new candidate before recruitment, further, we verify with the hotel management and respective institutes of the academic tenure of the candidate and his/her records,” said Tejinder Grewal, manager, human resources, Le Royal Meridien, Mumbai.

First Advantage, which offers professional background screening to hotels besides other industries, said that they have witnessed a quantum jump in their hospitality client numbers post 26/11.

“If earlier, corporates relied on their in-house teams to screen their employees, now all best-in-class companies including hotels, have started appointing professional screening firms to thoroughly screen employees and contract staff in view of the heightened security scenario,” said Ashish Dehade, managing director (west Asia), First Advantage.

Since his company is now screening for a greater number of hotels compared to what they used to do two years ago, it has been established that the cases of discrepancy have been reported to be high among all the industries they cover.

“Our research shows a steady increase in the number of candidates providing false information (discrepancy) while seeking jobs in the hospitality sector. But this could be attributed to the fact that hospitality is a new adopter of professional background screening practice, compared to others who have been doing so for many years,” said Dehade.

In its third quarter report of 2009 for the hospitality sector, First Advantage found that of every 100 employment checks they conducted, almost 24 had some sort of employment-related discrepancy.

HR heads said that the awareness level has definitely gone up post 26/11 and they are taking all extra precautions before hiring anybody.

“In our HR forum in Delhi, we have decided that there should be more co-ordination amongst each other to give right information about candidates. Post 26/11, we have taken extra precautions while taking industrial trainees. Earlier we would go by the institute letter, but now we make sure we take the address proof and police verification of each candidate,” said Neesha Mohapatra, director human resources, The Leela Kempinski Hotel & Residences, Gurgaon.

She said the HR forum in Delhi have decided that whenever they come across any candidate who is not good or honest, they will send an email and picture of that candidate to all the hotels, so that they can restrict themselves from hiring the candidate.

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