The State of Misconduct At Work With Ben Mones of Fama

What if the candidate you’re considering for a role in your organization has a past misconduct? How would it impact your decision? And more importantly, how could it impact your business?

Join us as we take you through a riveting journey into the often overlooked world of workplace misconduct. We have with us Ben The State of Misconduct At Work With Ben Mones of FamaMones, founder and CEO of Fama, who shares groundbreaking insights from their in-depth research on the topic. We delve into the intriguing concept of the misconduct multiplier effect and question if our perception of misconduct is influenced by the industry and candidate pool.

Also, we shift gears to explore the changing dynamics of misconduct and the concept of second chances. With the onset of the labor crisis and the pandemic, attitudes towards past misconduct are evolving, and businesses are becoming more forgiving. But wait, the conversation becomes even more engrossing as we challenge our preconceived notions about misconduct. Do all crimes hold the same weight? And what happens when businesses decide to take action in response to misconduct?

Buckle up as we take you on this enlightening ride that could potentially transform your strategies for managing workplace misconduct.

Listening Time: 23 minutes

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Ben Mones
CEO & Founder Fama Follow

The State of Misconduct At Work With Ben Mones of Fama

William Tincup: [00:00:00] This is William Tincup, and you’re listening to the Recruiting Daily podcast. Today we have Ben on from FAMA, and we’ll be talking about the state of misconduct at work. Ben and I have been known each other for a jillion years, and we did a webinar just recently about this particular topic. So this is going to be fun.

They’ve got a great Literally, and I don’t say this a lot, they’ve got wonderful research that you should download. Primary research, so they actually did research as [00:01:00] opposed to just marketing speak. Ben, do us a favor and introduce yourself and Fama.

Ben Mones: Yo, glad to be back, William. Thank you for having me.

I’m Ben Mones. I’m the CEO and founder at Fama. We are a online screening company that makes hiring great people easy. And yeah, we’re really excited to talk about the state of workplace misconduct report we created. Took us almost a year and a half to build it. 86 citations. And I am thrilled to hear you honestly say that you like it.

William Tincup: That means well, Research in our space, we, you and I’ve talked about this before. Research our space. Okay. We need the marketing team, content marketing, right? So HubSpot comes out, everyone becomes a content marketer. Great. Okay. So now there’s this Deluge of everybody writes white papers.

Everybody does these, these things that basically create clicks and then fill out forms and the data goes into a database and then sales sells them, et cetera, and it waters down what we used to call white papers were real, truly were actual white papers that were [00:02:00] actually research reports and now they’ve become kind of marketing brochures.

Wrapped up in a guise of some type of thought, leadershipy idea. It’s almost as bad as infographics. I’m glad we’re outta the phase of infographics, by the way. Just between those girls. I despise that phase. But y’all actually did research, so let’s go back to the genesis of why. You could have been studying anything at this particular point.

’cause y’all get to see candidates coming in and doing all kinds of interesting stuff. Yeah. Both good and bad. Why did you why did you study this? The

Ben Mones: reason we kicked off on this initiative, this project, it’s actually not the first time we’ve done it, but often we get this question of what should I expect, right?

If I’m going to kick off this whole process of starting to expand and evolve my screening strategy to include social media, the online record, tuning my screening strategy for the information age, if you will. A lot [00:03:00] of companies are going into it for the first time. They don’t have like a Best practice.

They don’t know, what typical looks like, in a report, for example, we call out that there’s a in consumer services, for example, a 27 percent incidence rate of misconduct compared to three or 4 percent for health care across new hires from a screen perspective. So understanding kind actionability, what’s normal for me, what should I look at as exceptional, out of the norm, how do I begin to fast forward and accelerate that development of kind of the muscle memory, if you will, of how to interact with data like this.

That was one initial, really just for the users. That was where this report started. Back in, actually 2019, when we first released, it was just like a snapshot of benchmarks across industries, so you could sign up and see how often FAMA was flagging something like intolerance, for example, in a person’s digital background, in the industry that they’re in.

But This version, the research we take it to the next level. We said, look, what’s the impact? [00:04:00] How can we actually begin measuring the impact of misconduct in the workplace? How does it manifest itself? How does it spread? How does it affect things like productivity, turnover? And even, pulling out some really interesting insights from primary academic research that’s 24 months or so on things like the misconduct multiplier effect, where a single incidence of workplace misconduct Nets 1.

59x more incidents of misconduct in the workplace. So it was a lot of just interesting nuggets like that of connecting the bigger picture of screening to workplace impact. That was really the secondary outcome of the research, but I would say quickly became the most important part of that research.

Sorry for the sirens. No.

William Tincup: If there’s not sirens, come on, what’s going on?

Ben Mones: I’m in New York City, baby. Big Apple.

William Tincup: Seriously, if there’s no ambulance going by right now, there’s something wrong. That’s just the way I look at it. So first, two, two questions are [00:05:00] off the bat. One is would people look at misconduct as subjective, meaning if you’re in a particular industry, let’s say you’re in the restaurant industry and you have a bunch of bartenders and waitresses, et cetera, is there misconduct that’s accepted in that industry versus maybe something that happens at EY in a professional environment, et cetera?

Or is just misconduct? That’s the first question. Thank you. Thank

Ben Mones: you. Yeah, I think it’s there’s a gradient, absolutely, that’s dependent on the industry, the, call it structure of the industry itself, regulated

William Tincup: norms,

Ben Mones: the candidate pool, the employee pool, if you got a bunch of younger people working in entertainment, working at your Obviously, you’re going to have a little bit more color, if you will, when it comes to language that people engage with, maybe using harassing or, jokes, that sort of thing, in a more fun context, if you will, a sort of, jab in the ribs type thing, as opposed to actually being mean or hurtful, what’s unique is that there [00:06:00] are across industries, the incontrovertible things like fraud, illegal activity.

That’s not subjective. Did you

William Tincup: steal money from the till? Yeah. Okay. Yeah. Or

Ben Mones: even look at, down in, in in your neck of the woods, this guy just two weeks ago, Kiwi Kamara, the CEO of a tech company. In Austin called CS Disco that, was let go for harassing women who we worked with. And, it was noted, it was written down, it was reported a bunch like that’s the sort of stuff we don’t care what industry you’re in, it’s going to be a problem.

So yes, there are absolutely gradients and a level of acceptability, I would say by industry reflective of the culture that folks are working, stepping into and also the brand, if you go work at a not that they’re a client, but if you go work at Barstool Sports compared to JP Morgan, it’s going to be a slightly different vibe, in terms of the culture, I think, at least that you’re that you’re walking into.

So that’s what employer

William Tincup: brand on the [00:07:00] front end, that’s again, if they’re true to their brand and they actually, again, tell you, here’s what the work is like on both sides. Now, that’s the thing, JP Morgan, especially if you’re a trader. For JP Morgan and you’re down on the floor, it’s insane.

Like it’s insane. It’s aggressive. Okay. But if you know about that going in then that’s one thing. It’s, I think it’s a shock and awe. I didn’t know about that. Then I got into the culture and understood that’s actually not just the culture of this company, but the culture of the industry, like that’s when people go sideways, but the other question around misconduct is a one to.

To explore with you is around risk and compliance. So why people care, it’s this is a, when you and I’ve talked about it on the webinar this is a duh thing. Of course we should be thinking about misconduct and how do we screen for it? I, I know a lot of the HR folks, especially are going to be thinking about this and saying, okay, if we can just screen out, Some of the misconduct, just the, these folks are, [00:08:00] it’s not not predetermined, but maybe they’re just predisposed to being, to just not being, I remember doing I would ask it was An assessment for, I don’t want to even say the company, but it was a safety assessment.

And I was fascinated by this because they did it with forklift drivers and miners. And that’s the only places they really used it. And theirs was a personality assessment. So it was a different take on things. It was like, your personality there, this is their view, your personality, you’re either a person, you’re either wired for safety.

or you’re not. And in those high risk, injury related type of positions, we can’t have you. We can’t, no matter how good you are, if you’re wired and you’re not wired for safety, you can’t have the job.

Ben Mones: Yep. And let’s even play that out. It’s funny, I, Actually, we used to do some work in a previous life for a tech company that actually was trying to use wearable technology to measure and prevent accidents on [00:09:00] mining and oil and gas sites.

Oh, wow. Yeah, really actually familiar kind of with this world. It’s funny you bring that up. The interesting piece here is what you just described as cost avoidance, right? So essentially saying, okay, if we have one single workplace accident on a, you can imagine a global mining operation, right?

Or an oil and gas operation, whether it’s in the States, whether it’s abroad, right? You have a single accident. You’re shutting down production, hard stop for that entire day, which is lost revenue, right? And so I think for business leaders in those cases, especially in the highly regulated environments that are very structured, whether it’s healthcare, professional services, I’d even argue financial services to some degree, a lost day in the world of investment banking is pretty material.

You, you find these companies, particularly in the sectors where they can draw a straight line to that cost avoidance and the return on investment, where HR is often a part of that discussion of saying, Hey, how do you help us avoid downstream costs of the business? And I don’t mean like [00:10:00] the ROI that everybody and their mother at HR tech is selling against of the cost to replace.

William Tincup: First of all, I don’t believe any ROI business case, and I’ve actually did a podcast on this. I’m like ROI in our industry. It assumes 100 percent adoption and no one gets 100 percent adoption, no one. So the math is automatically fail automatically flawed from the beginning. But then take

Ben Mones: like the stakeholder, who’s the VP of TA, who’s got the shiny new piece of tech and an enterprise company, not even a mid market, a thousand employees or so company takes it to the business leader and says, Hey, look.

I want to do this thing to manage costs. Okay what is that cost that we’re selling against? Or that, what are we, what sort of protection are we buying here? And how’s it going to impact us? That’s where that kind of, I think that drive between, as you were saying earlier, kind of sales and marketing and some of these HR tech companies overcorrecting for some of those ROI statements.

But Yeah. What’s interesting on oil and gas back to it is just they have a clear perspective on cost [00:11:00] avoidance, but I think where we have to really push the market and that’s what, this research project to bring it back does in a way trying to position this more sort of value accretion.

How do we think about creating more value through our people? That’s By enhancing screening, how do we think about increasing productivity? How do we think about reducing voluntary turnover? People who are just like, screw this place. I don’t want to work here anymore. I don’t want to be treated like that.

And so that kind of paradigm shift, I think he, I, you and I’ve talked about a few clients in the past who have that point of view. And I think we all know who they are in the industry. The ones that really want to take their first toe in the water at some new tech. But, too often, I think it’s.

really having to create a strong narrative, if you will. And I think this research report really helps tie it all together in terms of like, why even do this? What, why should I spend more on screening? Oh, it’s because I’m going to see the downstream impact in a material way for my company.

William Tincup: It’s I, I want to get your take on character and how it relates to misconduct as well.[00:12:00]

But for me it’s, if you could screen out one bad apple. That’s that you can tell with data that is going to be a bad apple, then you just avoid it. They could be a great candidate like these aren’t mutually exclusive. They can be a great candidate.

They can even be a great person, but if they’re hardwired for misconduct and it’s going to get, it will eventually bite you. Then you know what? Avoid it. Like it’s just too easy to use this. I look at the cost is this is a rounding error for me in terms of the cost of that mistake of who they’re going to drive away, what they’re going to do, what potential lawsuits or compliance issues are going to create.

It’s This is too easy.

Ben Mones: Ah, I totally, but that’s also coming from somebody from your perspective, right? Like you said, you’ve run a company, you’ve developed it, you’ve gotten that phone call at 11.

William Tincup: 50 p. m. Fraud, yes I have.

Ben Mones: Shoot, how did we miss that? Now what do we do next? Yeah, I think a lot of that is just born out of the world’s the world’s greatest [00:13:00] university, which is just experience, right?

Of just being out there and learning from it. But, obviously, of course, I. I agree with you. And the unique piece about it too, I remember when we started FAMA and just, taking a step back, providing screening, very similar to a background check, right?

You sign a consent form before you run it as a candidate, you get a copy of a report if the company takes action on, you get a chance to challenge it, just like a background check. I remember when we started the company, I was like I was very new, as I was very new to the space at the time.

This is almost 10 years ago, but I didn’t have any background in HR. I was just a software dude, as it were, in, in any event I said to myself people are going to sign a consent form and say, okay I’m going to submit to in very plain and form consent terms. Like it’s not one of these cell phone contracts, where they.

Shout out the words. These consent forms are very clear. I said, aren’t people just going to delete the racist stuff that they said? Aren’t they just going to make their profiles private? But the reality is, it’s like that character that [00:14:00] you mentioned a few seconds ago, it’s the thing that we’re solving for with this type of screening is that kind of normalization of intolerant or fraudulent behavior, right?

People that think it’s okay to act hateful towards others or misogynistic or homophobic because that’s that normalized worldview that unfortunately people bring in, bring into a company and it doesn’t end well for anybody especially the

William Tincup: Canada, I think that what’s interesting also about the research and kind of tying these things together for folks is there’s a wonderful movement around second chance folks that I actually, I love because I don’t view all, everybody that’s gotten jammed up, I think it’s 70 million people that have gotten some type of felony or been gone to prison or some type of thing.

I can’t remember the stats but it’s a big number. And it’s but they’re all the same. Like someone that, killed 40 people versus, a guy that on his third strike, he had a half pound of marijuana. These are not the same crimes. These are not, and again, some are can be rehabilitated, some [00:15:00] can’t, got all that.

But what if, what this topic and the research forces me to reconsider is how people think about misconduct and then characterize different people stereotypically. In one way or another, and so one of the things I wanted to explore with you is like what are the, when people think of misconduct, do they already have a preconceived idea of who that might be or what that might look like, who that might look like, and what’s, what have you seen in that second chance world, fair chance second chance, that, that world of hey, listen, just because someone’s been to prison, That doesn’t mean that they’re going to be, that they’re going to be a bad actor at your work.

Ben Mones: Oh, yeah, for sure. I think just on that, that second chance point, you’re spot on. Not just what I would say, President Biden, I think last April not this year, but April 22, it was second chance month, right? You can open the Wall Street Journal or talk to anybody who’s running a big staffing firm or temp firm right now.

[00:16:00] This country is heading for a labor crisis. Hard stop. The birth rate is not what it was in the baby boomer generation, and, we’re going to be in a position here, especially post pandemic, when a lot of boomers, frankly, stayed retired and stayed on the sidelines and didn’t reenter the workforce.

After this sort of earth shattering event, which we don’t really talk about, but definitely happened just recently, right? There is a push now to not just reintegrate, just to quote some data, you mentioned the second chance thing, an area that I’m really passionate about. 75 percent of people as surveyed by SHRM said that they would patronize a store and buy from somebody who had a non violent felony conviction.

Same percentage of people, just a little bit less, would work with someone who had a non violent felony conviction. And again, we know that the justice system unfairly penalizes people who are black and brown and has for decades. It’s not an opinion. [00:17:00] It’s not a question. That’s a we have this labor shortage.

We have the

mass consumer, the mass worker, if you will. Readily saying, hey, I don’t care about you having, getting pulled over for, weed a few times when you were, in, in a state that penalizes that sort of thing. I don’t care if happen to have a reckless driving or something when you were, 22 and you.

We’re just getting your kind of your feet under, if you will. Again not apologizing for any crimes or saying that committing crimes is okay. But the reality is people don’t care about that sort of stuff anymore. They just don’t. Especially our generation, William, does not care about that stuff nearly as much as those that came before us.

And, the reality is that screening needs to evolve to reflect that because what people still care about is fraud, intolerance, harassment, the sorts of things that bury companies, make people feel uncomfortable, and scientifically [00:18:00] increases turnover and damages productivity. It’s a sea change, right?

There’s a lot of intrinsic market forces at work here that are slowly going to evolve over the coming decades, but I, or coming years rather, but I think they’re going to be forced to, yeah, the pandemic has rapidly accelerated that and we’re about to see a whole new world. of AI come up here in our sector.

William Tincup: Which is great on so many levels. Now you said at the beginning when we first started talking about the the research that you wanted to get, not just explain what was going on, and giving him findings and stuff like that, but you wanted to talk about the impact and connect this to the impact so that people can connect.

One to the other okay, here’s misconduct. Here’s the impact of misconduct. Do you, if not now, do you see in the future wanting to get to a point of a layer of actions? Okay here’s misconduct, here’s the impact and here’s what you can do about it. Like going into the, the playbook a bit and saying, okay, here.

If you’ve [00:19:00] made this mistake, that’s fine. Here’s the impact of that mistake, but here’s what you can do to reconcile that mistake. Yeah.

Ben Mones: Yeah. It goes back, to what you mentioned earlier about the ROI piece, there isn’t a one size fits all salve for misconduct, right? There isn’t as much as I wish there was a.

button you could press or an API call you could generate. There ain’t a quick fix here. So yeah, we oftentimes today, I would say it happens at Fama more like a professional services level, meaning we’ll provide consultation on maybe you should look at, what is your interview process look like?

How are you leading with your values early on? Where are you recruiting from? Are you using? We at FAMA, for example, are big on Black Girls Who Code as a way to try to get diversity into our junior engineering department inside of the company, right? So how are you looking at your end to end talent sourcing funnels?

Are you using algorithms, potentially, that… are introducing bias at, like the JD or resume [00:20:00] level. So that’s one angle we look at talent sourcing, but it’s also talent engagement, right? And the kind of ongoing and maybe even initial intervention with someone who say, Hey, look, we hear this all the time.

You said this thing a couple of years ago, we saw you made this, we hope this is a joke. It only happened once. We just want to let you know that’s not cool here. We’re going to hire you, but we wanted to let you know and show you where the kind of lines on the field are, if you will, of how to engage.

So funny you mentioned it, we are looking at like everything from policy adherence to L& D, the kind of like broad world of policies. ongoing trainings, as much as I am not a huge fan of the way the learning and development world is structured today, I’m a big fan of companies like BetterUp, for example, and coaching has found its way, into the workforce and no longer reserve just for executives.

So yeah, a bunch of different paths forward, although none have really manifested themselves in A new product for FamaVersa. Last

William Tincup: question is from this [00:21:00] report and in how you interact and your team interacts with the customers it’s how does the customer, if you could wave a wand and how should they convey what is and isn’t acceptable?

Ben Mones: Oh, sorry, I lost you, man. What was that

William Tincup: last one? So how should the your customers your clients. Interact and say to their candidates what is and isn’t acceptable, like how do they convey that? Sure. A behavior that is and isn’t, acceptable at their particular place of work.

Ben Mones: Yeah, I think it’s simplicity and clarity of language, it’s just don’t make it convoluted, make it clear, make it straightforward and use, metaphor and simile in ways that people can really and quickly understand how you think about what it means to build a great culture, right?

Evidence your values, especially if you have a hybrid or remote workforce, Encourage, hiring managers when they’re in the interview process to have the values of the company up on the screen [00:22:00] and to use that to weave the narrative, if they will, that they’re sharing with the candidate. It’s really, you can get complex with it.

You can say, oh, we should quiz them. We should put them on a. Grady in and see what they, pick up, have them react to certain scenarios. While that is totally possible, this is one of those things that’s your reptile brain in a lot of ways where, you might be conditioned to make misogynistic jokes just because of, which is like we’ve seen maybe The friends you had.

And that’s, look that’s you, right? It’s okay to be you. And it’s now saying, look, now these are the things that our company are just not acceptable and the things that we don’t get down with. And it’s really that simple. I think for a lot of people, they get it because it’s stuff we’ve been learning since we’re in preschool.

Don’t bite him as they say to my kids, you don’t bite you

William Tincup: hug. The thing is that again, you convey that and it’s okay. Okay. You made a mistake in the past or that was acceptable in the past, et cetera, but you can learn from that. That’s the beauty of being human.

It’s okay listen, you can adjust. It’s choice. If you don’t want to adjust, okay that’s a [00:23:00] choice, but you can adjust and change your behavior, et cetera. Ben, I could talk to you all day, I know you got to get on the thing. So thank you so much for coming on the show and talking to us about this.


Ben Mones: thanks a lot, William. Looking forward to seeing you at HR Tech in a couple weeks. That’s right.

William Tincup: That’s right. And thanks for everyone listening. Until next time.

The RecruitingDaily Podcast

William Tincup

William is the President & Editor-at-Large of RecruitingDaily. At the intersection of HR and technology, he’s a writer, speaker, advisor, consultant, investor, storyteller & teacher. He's been writing about HR and Recruiting related issues for longer than he cares to disclose. William serves on the Board of Advisors / Board of Directors for 20+ HR technology startups. William is a graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a BA in Art History. He also earned an MA in American Indian Studies from the University of Arizona and an MBA from Case Western Reserve University.


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