VP of HR Doug Harris shares how Clean Harbors is benefiting fromÂ its new pre-employment screening approach.
By Debbie Bolla
When you are in the business of removing some of theÂ most hazardous materials in the world, there is no roomÂ for error when it comes to hiring nearly 5,000 employeesÂ a year. Nobody knows this better than Clean Harbors,Â North Americaâs leading provider of environmental andÂ energy services responsible for end-to-end hazardousÂ waste management, emergency spill response, industrialÂ cleaning and maintenance, and recycling services. TheÂ organization is also the largest re-refiner and recyclerÂ of used oil in the United States. Critical to ensuring theÂ company is hiring the right workers to meet stringentÂ compliance standards is a thorough background screeningÂ process.
âOur workforce is very diverse,â says vice president ofÂ human resources Doug Harris. âAnd itâs important for usÂ to conduct background checks because we cannot makeÂ mistakes.â
Clean Harbors continues to expand and outpace itsÂ competitors due to its unique ability to acquire smallerÂ players. In fact, one acquisition alone brought on 1,400Â new employees this year. âWe own 80 percent of theÂ disposal locations in the U.S. and the federal governmentÂ is not allowing any additional hazardous waste sites,âÂ he explains. âBut it presents challenges from an HRÂ perspective because we are continually growing.â
A major concern is the inconsistency of prior backgroundÂ checks of employees that join the company post-acquisition.Â âAfter we acquire smaller businesses, weÂ find that these companies have different hiring practicesÂ than we do, and we donât want to take on that liability,âÂ Harris says. âWe are very compliant and cautious due toÂ the nature of our work and are very particular about ourÂ hiring practices.â
Clean Harbors works with global background screeningÂ provider CSS to thoroughly vet all employees. HarrisÂ estimates that out of the total number of backgroundÂ checks, 75 percent are for direct labor roles, either forÂ drivers with a commercial driverâs license or for workersÂ doing physical labor. The program comprises severalÂ background screening services, including:
- federal- and state-run checks;
- criminal searches;
- home address verifications;
- employment and income verifications;
- DOT compliance checks; and
- drug testing.
In addition to maintaining compliance, reducing time toÂ fill is a priority for Harris.Â And he is not alone. According to research from TheÂ National Association of Professional Background ScreenersÂ (NAPBS), 62 percent of organizations report that theÂ length of time to receive results is the most significantÂ obstacle when conducting background checks. At oneÂ point, it was taking Clean Harbors 90 days on average toÂ get a hire on board, with a former background screeningÂ provider taking seven to eight days to deliver results.Â âKnowing that most of our labor is billable to our clients,Â we were losing a ton of revenue every day,â he says.
A key in decreasing time to fill was redesigning theÂ provisional hiring process. âWe need to do provisionalÂ hiring for some of our business,â explains Harris. âCSSÂ was able to cater to our needs in the cases where day-ofÂ interviewees start that day or soon after passingÂ pre-employment tests. CSS could expedite the processÂ by providing priority services over those hires thatÂ did not need to be hired immediately. That helped usÂ significantly.â
Quality and speed are the best ways to describe it: CleanÂ Harbors has reduced their time to fill by 40 percent.Â Another improvement playing a role in making theÂ hiring process more efficient is a streamlined offerÂ letter approach. The organization delivers on average aÂ staggering 850 offer letters a month. Harris says CSS helpsÂ adjudicate any cases by providing a recommendation withÂ Clean Harbors having the final say.
âThis has helped free up staff for a better offer letterÂ process that is legally compliant,â Harris explains. âWeÂ now can get offer letters out to candidates within theÂ same day, and historically it took two or three days.â
With Clean Harborsâ growth trajectory not slowing downÂ anytime soon and the labor market remaining tight,Â the organization is looking to leverage its automatedÂ screening process.
âIn this day and age as technology is constantly evolving,Â automation can create efficiencies while giving candidatesÂ control and confirmation of the data they provide toÂ employers,â says Mike Chalenski, CEO and founder of CSS.
A mobile app could be especially beneficial for CleanÂ Harbors when hiring drivers. âA lot of our drivers donâtÂ have an office, so our goal is to be able to provide themÂ with what they need on a mobile app,â says Harris.