Why potential buyers should boycott First Advantage, Pre-employ, and SterlingBackCheck.
By Elliot H. Clark
I have never suggested a boycott before, but I have also never been so annoyed at the rank hypocrisy of a group of service providers. Here is a group of companies that tells customers to perform due diligence on prospective employees, but seeks to evade disclosure of strengths and weaknesses. Here is a group of companies that demands prospective recruits be transparent, but tells prospective clients (you), “trust us.” If you think this first paragraph is rife with righteous indignation, keep reading.
Their first defense to this column will be to accuse us of attacking them because they are or are not clients. We feature more than 78 companies a year on the various HRO Today Baker’s Dozen Customer Satisfaction surveys and many of them have little or absolutely no commercial relationship with us. They tell us that they have “opted” out of the survey. Here is the part they are missing: We do not engage this process to allow providers to ascend to the supremacy of Olympus.
We do it for the practitioners. That’s right—and that is why we publish the methodology and explain it on every announcement video. We do that to be transparent and to be sure that buyers know how the data is derived and how the data is analyzed. The beauty of the Baker’s Dozen process is that it is a community of HR professionals providing feedback on their providers and gathering feedback on other providers. You are the community. HRO Today is just an information transfer mechanism. But because HR executives are the feedback providers, 79 percent of our readers in our most recent readers’ survey said the Baker’s Dozen influenced their decision when selecting a provider.
Here is what we have found in this market. Some of the smaller providers have a better service culture. What they may or may not lack in infrastructure investment, they make up for in responsiveness and flexibility. First Advantage, I believe, is an amalgam of combined companies that continues to be challenged even after several reorganizations, and historically, they do not do well on this survey. Pre-employ, according to what we have been told, doesn’t like our methodology for not giving them credit for their size, but I guess they don’t like our focus on service (if we used the limited sample we have on them, they would be 19th), and SterlingBackCheck is, in my opinion, a company that has always had a “we do it our way” attitude (we integrated them into our ATS when I was at Kenexa and the technology was easy and the people were hard).
By obstructing our path by refusing to forward the survey link to customers to get feedback, providers deny the customer a voice almost like denying them a vote. They also deny prospects the opportunity to see how they stack up in a competitive space. We do receive sample on these firms, but this year we have insufficient sample to rate them. They don’t want to take part because historically they have not done well, but rather than fi x that problem, they blame us. I will tell you this based on all available data that 100 percent of the companies that resist the Baker’s Dozen ratings have historically bad ratings. If they thought they were going to do great, they would beat down our doors for the opportunity.
So why should you boycott them? Ask them if you should hire someone who won’t give you information about themselves and see what they say.