Sterling’s Customer Protection is Top Concern for U.S. Companies

June 20th, 2017

NEW YORK, June 20, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — Today, Sterling (Sterling), one of the world’s largest background screening and HR solutions companies, released the results of its 2017 Background Screening Trends & Best Practices Report. According to the survey, the consensus among organizations is that background screening is a critical business component and more than just a commodity.

In fact, an overwhelming 89 percent of organizations conduct employment background checks, and 80 percent of the time, these checks uncover issues and information they otherwise would not have found. Beyond finding the best candidates or complying with the law, respondents cite the primary reasons for background checks as: protecting clients/customers (45 percent) and enhancing workplace safety (15 percent).

“I’m pleased to see that organizations recognize regular and accurate screening as a necessity, not an option,” said Clare Hart, Chief Executive Officer of Sterling. “Today’s business environment is shifting, and the on-demand economy is growing. Platform-based businesses predicated on interactions between people are becoming increasingly more common, and the safety of both parties—the service provider and the consumer—is essential for their efficient and safe operation.”

This benchmarking and trend survey also provides a snapshot of the U.S. employment landscape and reveals key insights on screening practices, priorities and challenges, gathered from more than 500 U.S.-based employers on their use of background checks.

“Ban the Box” Insights

Criminal record search (used by 93 percent of respondents) is the top screening tool used to evaluate prospective employees, and in fact, only 10 percent of employers wait until after an offer is made to ask about a potential criminal history. More than half (55 percent) ask candidates to check “the box” if they have been convicted of a crime early on in the process—on the application or during the interview—indicating that safety is an employer’s primary concern.

And yet, the “Ban the Box” debate continues, with employers somewhat mixed on the decision about whether to mandate the removal of the criminal conviction question from job applications. When asked to opine about “Ban the Box” laws, respondents most often stated that these laws would only delay the inevitable information that an employer would learn anyway (36 percent). Despite the importance employers place on having a clean background, a majority (57 percent) agree that they would give candidates the opportunity to explain a conviction that was not divulged initially on their application.

Employers’ Priorities Aligned with Their Greatest Challenges

When asked about the main areas in which they would like to improve their background screening programs, respondents identified their top priorities as: reducing time-to-hire (45 percent), improving screening process efficiency (41 percent) and improving the quality of information (36 percent). Since 2015, there has been a significant increase (25 percent) in organizations’ focus on improving the quality of information, which has moved up on their priority lists.

While HR professionals seem to be focused on getting new hires in the door quickly and efficiently with accurate information, these key priorities are also the areas with which they struggle most. Survey respondents cited some of the same factors as their most significant challenges:

  • Ensuring they are getting the necessary information to make an informed hiring decision (38 percent)
  • Ensuring they are complying with ever changing screening laws (25 percent)
  • Improving time to hire (18 percent)

“Many organizations struggle to understand complex compliance and regulatory standards,” added Clare Hart. “It is crucial for these companies to have accurate information at their fingertips, in order to keep up with the ever-changing regulatory environment and make the best hiring decisions to remain competitive.”

Additional Trends

Other key trends revealed by the survey include:

  • Social Media Screening – Only one-third (34 percent) of employers indicate that they perform social media checks on prospective employees, and the majority of companies are not currently performing social media screening.
  • Hiring Expectations – Looking ahead, a majority (60 percent) of organizations expect hiring to increase in 2017, demonstrating a relatively positive outlook for businesses. However, hiring expectations are down from the last survey in 2015, when 69 percent of organizations were anticipating hiring. While the competition for talent remains high, the hiring market will continue to remain relatively healthy, with only four percent of respondents anticipating a decrease in hiring this year.

Sterling released this data at the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) 2017 Annual Conference & Exposition in New Orleans.

About Sterling:

Sterling provides hiring peace of mind by delivering a simpler, smarter background screening and onboarding experience for employers worldwide. Our comprehensive suite of cloud-based background screening and onboarding solutions deliver accurate, reliable results and tools to maintain compliance throughout the hiring cycle.

With 20 offices in nine countries and growing, our team of more than 3,800 employees proudly serves over 40,000 customers around the world, including 25% of the Fortune 100. Sterling is accredited by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS), a distinction earned by fewer than 10% of all background screening companies. Visit

Sterling is a service mark of Sterling Infosystems, Inc.

Media contact:

Lauren Mariani-Ryan

Prosek Partners

SOURCE Sterling

Sterling is not a law firm. 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.

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