Instead of running an employee background check before hiring and then forgetting about this big issue completely, companies need to make their employees’ ongoing financial health a matter of company policy.

In a perfect world, there would be a clear, defined separation between work and life, and never the twain would meet. Ideally, your employees wouldn’t have any problems outside of the office, or at the very least, they would be able to leave them all outside the door when they reported for work, ready, willing and able to give 110%, and deliver consistently excellent work. There would be no need for efforts such as an employee background check, because people would do what was expected of them at all times.

But we don’t live in an ideal world. Whether we like it or not, employees have personal lives, and those lives will sometimes make it difficult for your team to do their job at their peak. Sometimes it will be personal issues. Sometimes it will be health concerns. Increasingly, it’s a lack of financial literacy that will sneak into your office, and distract your employees.

Whether you’ve had this issue already, or you’re hoping to head problems off at the pass, there are several steps you can take to keep financial worries out of your workplace, including conducting an employee background check on all candidates before you employ them.

How Big Is the Problem Really?

No one wants to write company policies to address non-issues, so the first thing you’re likely to ask yourself is how big of a problem this really is, and whether it’s something you should even worry about.

According to studies at leading universities’ in the US, it’s a big one. Up to one in four employees are currently experiencing some type of financial distress. That means a quarter of the average office or work environment is made up by people who are worrying about money.

Not only is that tough on your team, but it also affects productivity, and that impacts your bottom line.

In the worst possible cases, it may be even worse. Remember that desperate people do desperate things, and if you have staff who are struggling financially, they may choose to do things that are dishonest or illegal.

Credit Checks Part of the Solution

Of course, if you’re already running employee background checks as part of your hiring process, and if credit checks are part of that process, then you might be able to avoid some of this problem. However, there are two big problems with this:

#1: If you exclude great candidates because of their credit history, you might be missing out. Remember that most people in the U.S. are only a couple of paychecks away from financial trouble!

#2: Pre-employment screening won’t get rid of the problem entirely, because many of your employees had healthy finances when you hired them, and then things change.

Life happens. People get laid off. They have health care expenses. They get divorced. They make bad investments. Credit checks during the hiring process can weed out people who are habitually bad with money, but it isn’t a “one size fits all” solution by any means.

Making Financial Literacy Company Policy

Instead of running an employee background check before hiring and then forgetting about this big issue completely, companies need to make their employees’ ongoing financial health and financial literacy a matter of company policy.

Running seminars and offering workplace programs to help your team safeguard their financial futures,  build—and grow—their nest eggs just makes good sense. Not only will it keep your team focused on the job at hand, but it will help to earn you a reputation as a company who cares, and that will mean higher quality candidates the next time you’re hiring.

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