Amid COVID-19, How Can Retailers Hire Quickly While Thoroughly Screening Candidates?

May 11th, 2020

Vincenza Caruso-Valente General Manager, Sterling Staffing, Retail, and Franchise. Click here to read the original article published by Total Retail.

The coronavirus outbreak is having an immeasurable impact on businesses around the globe. Many companies have been forced to shut their doors and lay off employees as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, some industries are seeing a rising demand in business triggered by product shortages, a growing need for essential services, and shifting buying habits tied to the coronavirus.

Many retail organizations, for example, now need to quickly hire and conduct background checks on thousands of new workers to keep pace with accelerating product demand. Grocery store chains, fulfillment centers for online retailers, convenience stores, delivery companies, pharmacies, and other retailers are hiring new workers at record rates.

In addition, many businesses are leveraging technology in creative ways to address current challenges. Some have turned to strategies like curbside pickup of online orders and home delivery of products to keep customers safe while ensuring they still get what they need. A great example of this is Domino’s, whose integration of artificial intelligence into its existing in-store and e-commerce platforms has boosted productivity and efficiency while streamlining the customer experience. While it’s still not clear the total impact COVID-19 will have on retail companies around the world, Domino’s ability to pivot quickly sets a precedent and provides a model for companies to adapt and fill the needs of customers in these challenging times.

For those retailers that need to urgently fill positions, how can they hire quickly, while also ensuring that they’re hiring safely — with proper, thorough background checks being conducted?

A good way to start would be to better understand background screenings in general, and particularly during the COVID-19 crisis. What do your employee background checks include? What information are you receiving? Specifically, what do they not include and what information are you lacking? This helps with managing the increased demand for essential employees while assessing the level of thoroughness and risk your current program includes. Alternatively, it’s a good opportunity to assess how others in the industry are constructing their programs, as your competition for talent remains high in the retail industry during these critical times.

In addition, you should have a clear understanding of how long your background checks will take. This is especially important during this crisis. You should fully understand how your background screening provider is accessing court records at this time. Due to widespread court closures, some companies report that they’re unable to fulfill the most basic criminal checks. This was delineated in a recent piece by HR Dive. However, the reality is that court closures don’t have to be disruptive. A screening provider that continues to have access to the majority of critical court records will give you the thorough information that you need, within the time frame that you need it.

Ensuring there are clear guidelines, processes and protocols in place to support both employees and employers is crucial, while at the same time balancing time to hire, candidate experience, and cost. A close partnership with talent acquisition, recruiting and compliance teams, along with relevant external partners in the hiring process who can provide industry best practices, will be a key for success in having relevant risk conversations. This will yield a balanced approach when assessing how to build a best-in-breed program in the new normal of hiring.

By better understanding the role of background checks and taking advantage of available opportunities, retailers can meet their urgent hiring needs through this unprecedented crisis and beyond. In addition, they will be able to do so in a way that ensures compliance with federal and state laws, and assures the safety of their employees, customers and communities, while also protecting their corporate cultures and reputations.

This publication is for informational purposes only and nothing contained in it should be construed as legal advice. We expressly disclaim any warranty or responsibility for damages arising out this information. We encourage you to consult with legal counsel regarding your specific needs. We do not undertake any duty to update previously posted materials.