Jennifer Carter, of the Carter Cleaning Centers, and her father have what the latter describes as an easy but hard job when it comes to screening job applicants. It is easy because for two important jobs—the people who actually do the pressing and those who do the cleaning/spotting—the applicants are easily screened with about 20 minutes of on-the-job testing. As with typists, Jennifer points out, “Applicants either know how to press clothes fast or how to use cleaning chemicals and machines, or they don’t, and we find out very quickly by just trying them out on the job.” On the other hand, applicant screening for the stores can also be frustratingly hard because of the nature of some of the other qualities that Jennifer would like to screen for. Two of the most critical problems facing her company are employee turnover and employee honesty. Jennifer and her father sorely need to implement practices that will reduce the rate of employee turnover. If there is a way to do this through employee testing and screening techniques, Jennifer would like to know about it because of the management time and money that are now being wasted by the never-ending need to recruit and hire new employees. Of even greater concern to Jennifer and her father is the need to institute new practices to screen out those employees who may be predisposed to steal from the company.
Employee theft is an enormous problem for the Carter Cleaning Centers, and not just cash. For example, the cleaner/spotter often opens the store without a manager present, to get the day’s work started, and it is not unusual for that person to “run a route.” Running a route means that an employee canvasses his or her neighborhood to pick up people’s clothes for cleaning and then secretly cleans and presses them in the Carter store, using the company’s supplies, gas, and power. It would also not be unusual for an unsupervised person (or his or her supervisor, for that matter) to accept a 1-hour rush order for cleaning or laundering, quickly clean and press the item, and return it to the customer for payment without making out a proper ticket for the item posting the sale. The money, of course, goes into the worker’s pocket instead of into the cash register.
The more serious problem concerns the store manager and the counter workers who actually handle the cash. According to Jack Carter, “You would not believe the creativity employees use to get around the management controls we set up to cut down on employee theft.” As one extreme example of this felonious creativity, Jack tells the following story: “To cut down on the amount of money my employees were stealing, I had a small sign painted and placed in front of all our cash registers. The sign said: YOUR ENTIRE ORDER FREE IF WE DON’T GIVE YOU A CASH REGISTER RECEIPT WHEN YOU PAY. CALL 552–0235. It was my intention with this sign to force all our cash-handling employees to give receipts so the cash register would record them for my accountants. After all, if all the cash that comes in is recorded in the cash register, then we should have a much better handle on stealing in our stores. Well, one of our managers found a way around this. I came into the store one night and noticed that the cash register this particular manager was using just didn’t look right, although the sign was placed in front of it. It turned out that every afternoon at about 5:00 p.m. when the other employees left, this character would pull his own cash register out of a box that he hid underneath our supplies. Customers coming in would notice the sign and, of course, the fact that he was meticulous in ringing up every sale. But unknown to them, for about 5 months the sales that came in for about an hour every day went into his cash register, not mine. It took us that long to figure out where our cash for that store was going.”
Here is what Jennifer would like you to answer:

1. What would be the advantages and disadvantages to Jennifer’s company of routinely administering honesty tests to all its employees?

2. Specifically, what other screening techniques could the company use to screen out theft-prone and turnover-prone employees, and how exactly could these be used?

3. How should her company terminate employees caught stealing, and what kind of procedure should be set up for handling reference calls about these employees when they go to other companies looking for jobs?

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