According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, job openings increased to a record high of 10.9 million on the last business day of this past July. With the demand for labor high and prospects lower than normal, some companies are willing to do whatever it takes to fill their open positions as quickly as possible, including bypassing background requirements.
Even in a tight labor market, removing any or all background requirements invites too many bad actors into a company’s hiring process. By conducting background checks, companies practice due diligence in the hiring process. They can confirm or reveal information about the job candidate, such as a criminal record in another region, and include verifications of work or education experience, providing another layer of due diligence.
Saving time by eliminating employment screening entirely will ultimately create more problems than it solves. A pre-hire background screen is a crucial risk management technique, and going a step further to implement post-hire continuous monitoring can allow employers to address risk that arises among an active workforce. To mitigate company risk, keep their workforces safe, and still hire efficiently, employers should use a comprehensive continuous monitoring system to keep them up to date in real time on any problems that may arise.
Reevaluating Hiring Practices
Data from the Professional Background Screeners Association (PBSA) indicates that 96% of U.S. employers conduct background screens and for a good reason: Insider threat is an issue for businesses large and small across all industries, and crime may be a factor in as many as 30% of business failures.
With this risk in mind, there could not be a better time for businesses to reevaluate their hiring practices to protect against any bad outcomes. To promote better workplace safety, companies can conduct periodic background rescreening or continuous monitoring, which strikes a healthy balance when evaluating employees for warning signs.
Unlike a onetime background check, continuous monitoring offers employers peace of mind regarding both new hires and longtime employees. If an employee commits a crime post-hire, his or her employer has no way of knowing until long after the fact or may never know if the charges are dropped.
The key benefit of continuous monitoring is an employer’s ability to identify and mitigate insider risk among its workforce—identifying the bad actors who can hurt others and damage a company’s brand. It can also be a tool for improved communication with employees and an impetus for employee assistance in appropriate cases.
Using continuous monitoring also enables employers to hire from a wider pool of applicants who might have otherwise been overlooked in a pre-hire screen with confidence. They will be informed at the earliest point of possible intervention about an employee’s arrest.
But performing continuous background screenings can do more than manage and reduce workforce risk. Timely incarceration alerts, or the initial report of potential criminal activity collected from correctional facilities, allow employers to identify “yellow light” events and provide counseling, training, and other forms of assistance to their employees. Especially with the pandemic further isolating many employees from their coworkers and management, these alerts offer employers the time and resources to help employees who may be struggling—before it’s too late.
The Bottom Line
In the scramble to hire new employees, it may be tempting to drop a routine practice such as background checks, but there are more risks than rewards in store for companies that do so. Performing background checks is a best practice for any company looking to mitigate employee risk, and those that do make a sound investment in their future security and prosperity. Even more importantly, using continuous monitoring can keep companies safer from fraud, theft, and reputational damage while keeping employees, customers, and the broader public safe.
Brian Matthews is Senior Vice President and General Manager of Insights, an Equifax company. Insights is a division of Workforce Solutions, Equifax’s largest and fastest-growing business unit. Matthews is responsible for developing and executing growth strategy, with an overall focus on reducing people-based risk, mitigating fraud, and meeting compliance mandates.