Integrated Security Services, Inc., New York

Creating Performance Standards That Define Uber’s Brand

02 Apr

Taxi in NYCAs women continue to report being assaulted by drivers while using the service, Uber desperately needs to enhance its employee screening methods to protect its customers and its image.

As popular and successful as Uber has become, it’s also proven to be a veritable magnet for controversy. The ride-sharing service has attracted criticism for everything from its surge pricing to the squeeze it’s put on local for-hire drivers, according to Local 10. However, as Cosmopolitan reports, by far the most serious charge against it has been the dangerous tendencies of certain employees.

It seems like every day brings a new headline about a sexual assault taking place in the back of an Uber car.

Now, the Atlantic is asking if it wouldn’t be safer to just hail a cab from the street. As the article points out, it’s difficult to get an empirical sense of how safe one taxi service is compared to another, as most police departments in major cities don’t track such information. Still, as far as Uber’s concerned, the comparison doesn’t matter.

To protect its reputation — and more importantly, its customers — the company absolutely must find a better way of screening its employees, and that process has to start with a legitimate background check.

A Good Brand Needs Transparency

In Uber’s defense, the answer isn’t as simple as it sounds. There are no perfect solutions when conducting a background check, and if the check is thorough enough, there’s barely anyone without at least something troubling on their record.

But the company’s screening process doesn’t need to be flawless. What’s really important when working with a client — and what would greatly improve Uber’s credibility as a truly safe transportation alternative — is transparency.

Creating a hiring and operating standard for Uber drivers establishes ground rules for employees and values for the brand. By the same token, though, each specific business has its own specific needs and obstacles when it comes to hiring.

Before we can enter into a discussion about background screening, the client, industry, or regulating municipality overseeing the business entity has to create a hiring standard that actually fits the bill.

Weeding Out Problem Applicants

These checks are time-consuming, and costs can start mounting quickly — so which of these entities should be responsible for footing the bill? Though it might seem counterintuitive, the best way to fund this initiative is to place the economic burden on the applicant. In short, if “you want to drive for the Uber, it’s gonna cost you to join the team.”

By holding each driver financially accountable at this early phase, you actually eliminate a large percentage of undesirable applicants. Integrated Security Services believes that operating any motor vehicle in the public domain requires the highest level of character, and scrutiny of that character shouldn’t be limited to just a pre-employment check.

There should be a mandatory psychological profile in place to evaluate behaviors like patience, tolerance, and response to stressful conditions, such as urban traffic, noise, and incorrigible passengers. We also believe in mandatory annual drug screenings and post-level background checks each time a driver renews his state operator’s license.

Moreover, police departments, hospitals, and mental health professionals should have a direct portal to reported incidents involving Uber drivers who have been involved in either an offense on the job, or any other sort of incident that would compromise the company’s image.

Subpar Security

Chris Goldberg/flickr

Chris Goldberg/flickr

Properly addressing the problem Uber faces takes a recognition of the realistic outcomes and expectations associated with these background checks. The Internet and numerous online background screening platforms have unfortunately provided many companies with a false sense of security, and better yet, a low cost search fee to make it that much more attractive.

Drawn in by clever user access portals, discounted rates based on volume, and a laundry list of national results-driven searches, unsuspecting subscribers are basically relying on companies and public databases supported by credit agency data to approve someone for a job position.

These services don’t give their clients nearly enough information to effectively judge a job candidate, even though you might be fooled into thinking they do.

Fortunately for Uber, the only test that has consistently failed is not their product, but the security and safety provider they’ve partnered with. Building a successful brand like Uber’s requires public confidence and transparency. Offering a high-touch approach to background checks means investigators — not machines — are the ones that must do the real work in this complex space.

Integrated Security Services: a Human Solution

At Integrated, we approach background checks with more than broad strokes. These are three-dimensional cases, complicated by a large number of Uber applicants who are foreign nationals living in the United States for an average of less than 10 years. In order to handle these complex cases, our high-touch screening process balances tech-savviness and hands-on validation.

As Michael Fertik, author of The Reputation Economy, puts it, 100% hiring accuracy just isn’t a reality, and humans, no matter how supervised or regulated, will always misbehave. But that is far from an excuse for a major company like Uber to not show the public that it’s working to reduce the number of these traumatic incidents.

The important thing isn’t a squeaky-clean staff, but a level of transparency that will discourage drivers from breaking the law. And with Integrated Security Services, transparency is exactly what you’ll get.