Should Retail Employers Perform Background Checks on Seasonal Workers?

The last few months of every year mark the retail industry’s most profitable season. According to the National Retail Federation, the holiday season can account for up to 30% of annual sales. In order to accommodate the booming demand (Consumer spending is up 4.1% since we first published this article last year), most retail stores require a small army of extra helpers to keep things moving smoothly.

While seasonal work agreements are mutually beneficial, employers are more likely to cut corners in the hiring process, often skipping background checks to save a few bucks. Seasonal workers won’t be around for long, so why spend time and money making sure everything checks out…right?

In short, wrong. But let’s explore some of the biggest reasons skipping the background process isn’t a great idea.


Employees are more likely to steal from you than your customers

In fact, they're 5.4 times more likely to steal according to a survey by Jack Hayes International.

It’s a no-brainer, but those who have a history of theft are more likely than others to strike again. Seasonal workers can be particularly callous because they don’t have a long-term relationship to maintain with their employer. While this certainly isn’t true of everyone looking for temporary work, without a background check you might miss the warning signs, and that could cost you the hard-earned profits made during the holiday season.


Your reputation could suffer

In the retail industry, it only takes one bad experience to lose a customer forever. If you haven’t properly screened your seasonal hires, you may have missed a tendency to complain openly about customers on social media, or even a pattern of aggression in the workplace. This can have pretty devastating results on your company’s reputation, and you could lose repeat business as a result.


You could be putting your customers and employees at risk

Businesses that do not carefully screen temporary job applicants are putting everyone involved at risk. Criminal background checks should be standard, and a simple social media screening can easily search through a candidate’s publicly posted information for patterns of violence, sexual harassment, or racially intolerant behavior.

Employers that ignore these avenues for thorough vetting could be held liable for negligent hiring if a dishonest employee causes physical or emotional harm to another person while on the job.


Screening Best Practices for Seasonal Retail Employees

The best advice for screening your holiday help is simple: follow the same procedures you do with your full-time employees. By cutting corners you put yourself, your employees, and your business at risk when you hire someone—no matter how temporary—without assessing all of the available information that’s out there.

One of the fastest and most cost effective ways to screen a potential employee is a social media hiring report, which can provide a detailed list of potentially illegal or harmful behavior your candidates are posting across their public social media accounts.