Some entrepreneurs will tell you that there are no original ideas. In fact, it's a startup company's execution on an idea that determines success. In 2012, when meal kit-delivery company Blue Apron was just getting started, there were similar services already gaining success. With some business acumen and VC backing, startup entrepreneur Matt Salzberg hoped to capitalize on the growing trend. Blue Apron has risen above its competition, now delivering close to 8 million meals each month to customers who wish to eat healthier and cook at home. A recent NPR report notes that rapid success of the company and the growing need for quick hiring has created a chaotic work environment for Blue Apron employees.
Fast hiring decisions can negatively affect your business and cause an unsafe company culture. Here's how.
Urgent Hiring Decisions
Knowing when to hire is already a challenge for growing businesses. There is a delicate balance between investing in product or service improvements, collecting on invoices, and relying on current employees to perform many different job activities to keep up with company operations. Urgent hiring decisions are typically made when a large scale project or orders requires employers to recognize they need more people as quickly as possible to fulfill the customer need. With this urgency comes the acceleration of the hiring process, often skipping steps or not staying compliant with federal, state or local employment regulations. These fast-paced decisions can cause problems, not only within the organization but also with the customers, leading to negligent hiring claims against the business.
Blue Apron Employees Feel Unsafe
In the case of Blue Apron, their employee need includes workers for their manufacturing facility and warehouse. The warehouse location, Richmond, California, is known for gang violence and crime and the meal-kit delivery company is one of the largest employers in the area. Blue Apron employees reported violence, numerous visits from local police, bomb threats and other threats of violence among employees. NPR also reported that Richmond police had been to the Blue Apron warehouse "seven times because of assault, three times because of bomb threats, twice because of weapons."
A Buzzfeed report also noted a particular incident in August 2015, where an employee had planned to bring a gun to work and shoot his manager and other employees. At the same time, managers were meeting with California's Occupational Safety and Health Division (OSHA) due to violations and penalties that had put employees at risk for injuries.This meeting followed an earlier forklift incident that gave Blue Apron the most OSHA violations in the meal-kit delivery industry.
Hiring managers at Blue Apron noted that rapid company growth meant that they didn't always have the opportunity to screen or properly interview incoming employees. The meal-kit delivery company also used temporary agencies and relied on the agencies' vetting process to ensure quality employees. The aggressive influx of unskilled workers, permanent and temporary, meant the company was unprepared to care for these employees, keep them safe and stay compliant with health, safety and other employment regulations.
How to Fix the Problem
It is not uncommon for startup companies skip background checks because they believe the screenings take too long or will be too expensive. When you're building a company and trying to keep costs down, you want your hiring process to be as fast and efficient as possible. Unfortunately, as with the case of Blue Apron, keeping initial costs down during your hiring process doesn't necessarily mean that costs won't increase later. With the high cost of employee turnover, security concerns, branding and reputation damages, the need to secure the facility, and the costs of penalties, the initial cost of a quality hiring process looks a little less cumbersome.
Meal-kit delivery company, Blue Apron, has been aware of employee concerns and is currently making adjustments to keep current employees and rebuild a comfortable workplace. The company has installed metal detectors, gated their facility and added a surveillance system. Awareness of hiring challenges has also prompted Blue Apron to discontinue relationships with temporary agencies whose background screens and vetting process were still allowing violent employees into the company. With an awareness of the costs of an unsafe work environment, unhappy employees and continued potential for OSHA and other employment violations, the meal-kit delivery company is doing what they can to do better. Rumors of an IPO are also rumbling, meaning the company has important future considerations beyond their current investors.
A quality hiring process can still be affordable and offer quick turnaround. Grow your startup and keep your workplace safe by screening employees and making the right hiring decisions for your company.