Prioritizing safety: Ramping up hiring as you reopen

July 24th, 2020

Ken Schnee, General Manager, Sterling’s Technology, Media, Entertainment, and Hospitality group

Original article published on HR Morning.

As hiring ramps up, businesses would be wise to build their recruitment efforts around the safety of current employees, future employees, customers, their communities, and their brand reputations.

Here are some proven ideas you can use to adapt your hiring tactics to build a foundation of trust and safety in the workplace:

Remote interviews: Building trust

In 2019, 62% of U.S adults preferred in-person interviews to virtual interviews. The COVID-19 crisis forced companies to adapt to a virtual way of hiring. As a result, a staggering 86% of companies are currently conducting virtual interviews.

Improvements to technology have streamlined the virtual interview process to mirror the in-person interview process. Virtual interviewing requires hiring managers to adapt and create emotional connections with the candidate to give them a feeling of trust and safety from your organization.

Engaging with candidates on a personal and honest level can foster this bond. During the interview process, explain the steps that your company has taken throughout the COVID-19 crisis to prioritize safety. Describing how your company is operating and communicating to employees will make the candidate feel secure.

During remote interviewing, candidates are unable to experience the inner workings of the office and see the “secret sauce” that unites and unifies your company. On remote interviews, you should replicate this valuable experience by giving the candidate a view into the company dynamics.

You can extend the interview process to meet with multiple team members and even invite them to team social events. These conversations can also help build trust between your current team and the candidate.

Companies should also feel secure and confident in their hiring decision, and this confidence begins by confirming a candidate’s identity early in the hiring process. This simple step can help you feel confident that you are bringing the right candidate into your company.

Cutting edge technology has made identity verification quick and easy. Identity can be verified remotely with technology that leverages mobile phones and intelligent backend services. To verify identity, a candidate takes a picture of a government-issued ID followed by a selfie on their phone.

Artificial Intelligence and machine learning then validate their documentation and match the individual with the photo on the provided ID. Extracted data (such as name and address) can be seamlessly integrated into background screening platforms to verify details during the background check and onboarding process This process can help employers feel safe in their hiring decision – especially while hiring remotely.

Vet candidates’ on social media

With over 3.8 billion users, social media has become an ingrained aspect of everyday life for many. According to a CareerBuilder survey, over 34% of employers have reprimanded or fired an employee based on content found online.

Your company can leverage social media to vet employees and candidates for behavior that may jeopardize your brand reputation and potentially create a toxic, unsafe working environment. Social media screenings can quickly identify alarming behavior as you ramp up hiring.

Social media screenings can help identify online activity that can be incriminating, violent, racist, sexually explicit, intolerant, or contain disturbing language. Advanced technologies and AI-based background screenings can proactively identify behavior that does not align with your company culture and policies. Many people today feel that these technologies will help safeguard your brand’s reputation and create a more trusted environment.

Health takes center stage

Before the COVID-19 crisis, many companies had required drug and health screenings. During the crisis, employees were concerned about going to testing facilities because those facilities were also testing for COVID-19, so many drug and health screenings were put on hold.

Today, testing at these facilities is moving back to business as usual, allowing you to resume normal testing and screening. As your business re-opens, where possible, you should apply the same drug and health screenings that were in place previously and focus on screening employees based on the nature of their roles.

Although it may be tempting to cut back on parts of your background screening as we emerge from the crisis, it is important to continue with your pre-crisis programs to maintain a culture of trust and safety.

COVID-19 has brought additional attention to workplace safety and employee health. With this new focus, your company should offer active virus testing to employees and new hires, particularly those working on-site or that regularly interact in-person with others.

To maximize safety in the workplace, COVID-19 testing should be part of an end-to-end return to work program that follows CDC guidelines. These tests can help maximize safety in the workplace by screening employees for the active SARS CoV-2 virus. Additional on-site services such as temperature checks, pop-up clinics, and wellness questionnaires may be combined with active virus testing.

Why ‘rescreening’ pays

Most organizations place an upfront effort to ensure a safe workforce by conducting pre-employment background checks. However, as businesses re-open, hiring ramps up, and workplace safety is prioritized, your organization should consider rescreening employees throughout their employment period. Implementing a rescreening program helps to protect your employees and your brand.

Rescreening provides you the ability to receive regular, actionable insights into your employee base over time, as new circumstances arise. This type of screening offers timely and ongoing protection against workplace violence, criminal behavior, fraud, and theft.

Rescreening will alert you if your employee was booked or incarcerated for criminal activity and could jeopardize the safety of your workplace You can then take actionable steps to ensure safety in your organization.

During the COVID-19 crisis, businesses have emphasized the safety and health of employees. As you begin to re-open and to ramp up hiring, this focus on safety should carry through your new hiring process – ultimately creating a workplace built on a foundation of trust and safety.

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.