Top 5 Screening Trends for 2022

February 2nd, 2022

Despite welcoming a new year, HR teams experienced a strong sense of déjà vu during January. COVID-19 cases surged, courtesy of new variants. Job vacancies remained unfilled at record levels, giving candidates more options and employers more competition for talent. Even some, but not all, of this year’s screening trend predictions have a familiar ring to them. So, what does the future hold?


A Protracted Pandemic Recovery Reinforces the Value of Digital Hiring

When organizations pivoted to remote work for office staff at the start of the pandemic, most expected this to be a short-term solution to complying with social distancing requirements. Two years later, it has become clear that remote work is not going to fade out of existence.

Gallup’s 2021 State of the Workforce study found that 91 percent of workers who were working in hybrid or remote roles wanted to continue on that path. What’s more, organizations have realized that productivity is not compromised by remote work. When these insights are coupled with potential savings from reducing an organization’s brick-and-mortar footprint, it seems obvious to conclude hybrid and remote work will be around long-term.

Of course, when staff work from anywhere, HR professionals and recruiters need hire-from-anywhere capabilities. The first must-have tool is digital identity verification. During the pandemic, fraud risks climbed. Hijacked identities were used to make unemployment claims and to apply for jobs. One company discovered it had a group of imposters in its employ—individuals who were “sold” a remote work position along with the identities they used to get hired.

Identity fraud is a potential risk for any organization, and it is a particular problem when people using faked identities interact with the public or have access to personal, financial or proprietary data kept by an employer. Hiring with confidence starts with knowing, even before background screening begins, that people are who they say they are.

Like digital wallets on smartphones, modern digital identity verification solutions use mobile technologies such as face or thumbprint recognition to create a collection of proofs of identity and verified credentials that can be shared securely. Fingerprinting is especially important for positions in financial services.

Digital identity verification and subsequent screening also play critical roles in addressing the next trend on this list.


The Competitive Job Market Intensifies the Need for Candidate-Friendly Screening

The demand for talent will continue to outpace supply in 2022 for several reasons, including the following:

  • Time spent in lockdown at the height of the pandemic caused some people to reevaluate what work-life balance looks like. Those who were able to work remotely found they liked the flexibility it offered and grew reluctant to return to conducting business as usual.
  • Frontline workers were finally recognized as being essential during the pandemic. Newly empowered, individuals with experience in customer service are holding out for higher pay, more consistent hours and better benefits. Such demands pose hiring and retentions challenges across a range of organizations, from health care facilities to transportation agencies.
  • The Great Resignation continues. Prior to December 2020, the average quit rate for private sector workers was 2.5 million a month-a statistic that remained relatively stable for two decades. The number swelled to an average of 3.4 million a month for the first half of 2021 and hit a record-breaking 4.53 million in November of last year. In doubly bad news for employers, an analysis by the firm Visier revealed workers with 5-15 years of tenure have been the most likely to quit. Those employees are some of the hardest to replace due to their experience and institutional knowledge.

In a competitive job market, candidates are spoiled for choice. This will make streamlining screening processes for job applicants and new hires more important than ever.

Strengthening the HR workflow with digital identity verification, digital background screening and mobile candidate hubs will equip organizations to make pre- and postemployment screening more transparent and minimize perceived effort on the part of workers.

Both outcomes will help ensure more people stay engaged from their initial application through receiving an offer, onboarding and pursuing their career.


Hiring Will Become Even More Centralized

Work-from-anywhere is becoming more mainstream, and organizations are expanding their workforces across the country and around the globe. In 2022, this will lead to a shift in how hiring is managed.

Experts expect to see more organizations create an HR Center of Excellence responsible for making hiring workflows more consistent. Taking a centralized approach to hiring enables organizations to follow adaptable policies that comply with regional or local employment laws and shifting vaccine-or test mandates without compromising data security and while addressing fairness and privacy concerns.


Drug Screening Fades and Social Media Screening Flourishes

Financial services firms have begun removing drug screening from background checks, and signs suggest employers in other industries may soon follow. Regulated organizations and roles where public safety or data security could be compromised, however, will have to continue complying with applicable drug testing rules.

For instance, midway through 2021, Amazon, the second largest employer in the United States, announced it would no longer routinely screen candidates or employees for marijuana use unless a person was in position that is subject to U.S. Department of Transportation regulations. Instead, Amazon will do on-the-job impairment checks and test employees involved in on-the-job accidents for all drugs and alcohol.

Loosening restrictions on medical and recreational drug use is driving the trend against screening all workers for all drugs. Differing regulatory schemes from state to state, and even city to city, add complexity to screening protocols. Moreover, the competitive job market is making organizations consider whether a positive drug test result merits disqualifying an otherwise ideal candidate.

While drug screening loses momentum, social media screening is gaining traction for both prehiring and rescreening purposes. Social media screening makes organizations aware of potential reputational risks before a hiring decision is reached, and rescreening can keep regulated and nonregulated entities alert to signs an employee could pose a physical or reputational risk over time.


High-Impact Hires Will Be Subject to Deeper Screening and Rescreening

The fact that safety and security are top-of-mind concerns in 2022 is being reflected by a trend of employers digging deeper when making critical hires. Any job that requires a high level of trust demands an equally high level of confidence before the hire.

In addition to stricter identity verification and more-thorough background checks for critical roles, fingerprinting may be mandated, as it already is in financial services, health care and education. This is true in the C-suite and on the front line.

Screening will also move away from a one-and-done process. Periodic checks on existing employees, particularly those in roles with high public visibility or access to financial data, intellectual property or other high-value information, can keep organizations aware of activities that increase risk or liability, such as criminal behavior or out-of-date certifications. And this is true trend for 2022 and beyond: Organizations will increasingly pull out all the stops to create safe workplaces.

Joy Henry is the general manager of Sterling’s Financial and Business Services Group, where she holds responsibility for P&L and all functional areas of the business. Henry was previously senior vice president of regulated industries at Sterling. In that role she worked with the firm’s customers in health care, financial services and transportation.

This article was originally published in HR News.

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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