Whole Foods Market is the world's largest retailer of natural and organic foods, with more than 120 stores throughout the United States, but until the arrival of PeopleWise, some of the background checking procedures it used were less than stellar.
When Whole Foods wanted to run a background check on a potential employee, the company was forced to rely on faxes, e-mail transmissions, and other conventional methods of assembling data. Also, the company could never be entirely certain that the information it was getting was going to be accurate and, therefore, legally compliant.
PeopleWise, a member of the LexisNexis Group, changed all that with a Web-based human resources application, Peoplewise.net, that combines instant availability, accuracy, and speed to cut information turnaround time dramatically.
"The most important thing for us is to hire good people who will be productive and offer our customers a wonderful shopping experience, and at the same time ensure that we have a safe work environment," says Whole Foods regional human resources coordinator Robin Graf. "We want to be able to do thorough and quick background checks to investigate possible criminal backgrounds and make sure we get quality people."
Graf says the Internet application provided by PeopleWise allowed Whole Foods to accelerate the hiring process by reducing the turnaround time for a background check from one to two weeks to just two to three days. "Compared with our prior service, that's what stood out," she says, "and PeopleWise guaranteed it. When you're trying to staff a store and serve your customers, and you've found a potential employee who's going to do that for you, you want them on board as soon as possible."
That emphasis on speed "is probably our greatest asset," says Gary Cornick, the founder of PeopleWise. "We have national and international scope in our ability to gather information quickly, process it, and get it back to our customers. Also, the information is available 24/7 to any Whole Foods store in the United States and to their corporate headquarters."
And, Cornick says, it will be the best and most accurate information available.
PeopleWise, headquartered in Hollister, California, has an established business alliance with Littler Mendelson, the largest employment and labor law firm in the country. Through this alliance, all PeopleWise products are reviewed, monitored, and updated to ensure compliance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act, which requires that companies obtain information directly from the source when that information will be used to determine employment eligibility. Background information that does not comply with FCRA guidelines could potentially present serious legal challenges, Cornick says.
"Ultimately, it's the employer's responsibility if they use a company that's providing them with bad or inaccurate information," Cornick explains. "We offer a total solution. We're not just selling background check reports and data and information; we're working with our clients as partners and making sure they know how to use the information and that they're using it in compliance. We're very much a full-service provider."
Training Whole Foods employees on the PeopleWise system is unusually easy, Graf says. "PeopleWise has an online training service, one-on-one, no time limit, no additional cost. Our human resources administrators feel confident that they can ask individual questions and take as much time as they need to learn. But it's such a user-friendly product that it takes maybe 20 minutes to train someone. We're extremely pleased with it."