Top Five Trends Impacting Employment Screening in 2021

February 22nd, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to present organizations of all sizes with a myriad of new challenges related to hiring practices. HR leaders are looking ahead at the next few months of the pandemic, a critical time for all aspects of the global workforce. Stay-at-home orders across the world forced radical change in the workplace, far beyond the mass shift to remote work and remote hiring. Today, as we strive to emerge from the crisis, employers are focusing on how best to manage returning to work and compliant hiring practices.

Amid the uncertainty and disruption of 2020, Sterling conducted over 75 Million background searches and helped thousands of organizations, staffing firms, and professionals across the globe hire safely and with attention to compliance. Based on our industry expertise and our clients’ unique hiring needs during these unprecedented times, we have compiled five trends for background screening and verification services in 2021:

Candidate Experience

It’s difficult enough finding a new job during the pandemic. A candidate’s process to get a background check shouldn’t create obstacles. A smooth and simplified candidate experience for both remote and onsite applicants will continue to be a top priority for employers around the globe in 2021. The need for a candidate experience that is similar to the convenience, efficiency, and speed of the best online consumer transactions should also extend to the background screening process. Inaccurate screening reports, unwieldy information gathering processes, or delays caused by the use of outdated technology can cause candidates who’ve already accepted a job offer to reconsider their commitment. According to CareerArc, after a bad candidate experience, 72% of applicants will share that experience on sites like Glassdoor, on social media, or by word of mouth with family and friends. A study by PwC found that nearly half (49%) of job seekers working in high demand fields say they’ve turned down an offer because of a bad experience during the hiring process. Employers that simplify and enhance the candidate experience safeguard their reputations, while creating a smooth journey for candidates and future employees from the moment of first contact through background screening and onboarding.

Identity Verification

While always an important component in the hiring process, identity verification emerged as a priority in 2020 and will continue to be critical in 2021. The shift to remote work created a trend of remote hiring, where a person may be hired and onboarded without ever meeting anyone in-person. Verifying the identity of a candidate is a vital step in the remote hiring process. In a study by the HR Research Institute and Sterling, nearly three quarters of organizations (72%) said they would consider including identify verification as part of their screening flow if a simple and inexpensive solution were available. In addition, we will likely see spikes in hiring in certain sectors, depending on how the pandemic and the vaccine rollouts progress. As we’ve seen in certain sectors in 2020, this will necessitate rapid, urgent hiring. Organizations should continue to carry out due diligence on everyone they hire in order to preserve their corporate cultures, and to ensure trust and safety. They should never sacrifice speed for safety. They can have both if they work with the right background and identity services provider, and if they incorporate identity verification into their hiring and onboarding processes.

Contingent Hiring

Unemployment is at record levels and various industries face the toughest challenges they’ve ever experienced. Business leaders are focused on the most effective plans for survival given revenue shortfalls, lower headcount, and unescapable uncertainty. Gartner’s survey of over 800 HR leaders revealed that 32% of organizations are replacing full-time employees with contingent workers as a cost-saving measure. Brian Kropp, Distinguished Vice President of Gartner, notes, “It’s critical for business leaders to understand that large-scale shifts are changing how people work and how business gets done. Leaders who respond effectively to these HR trends can ensure their organizations stand out from competitors.” That 32% could increase post-pandemic depending on economic recovery, additional lockdowns and instability of traditional hiring. As companies rebuild their staffing rosters, they’ll need to incorporate contingent labor into their overall plans in order to restart growth in this challenging environment. Not only this, but employers themselves are looking for a more flexible working model to allow for more security in this uncertain environment.

Re-screening, Periodic Screening, and Ongoing Workforce Monitoring

While pre-hire background screening is a critical component in managing risk in the workplace, periodic screening and ongoing monitoring bolsters this effort by ensuring that the criteria set out for candidates and employees continues to be met throughout their tenure with the company. A 2020 survey by the Professional Background Screening Association (PBSA) found that 12% are now conducting background checks annually or more frequently, compared to 9% in 2019. With the unique workforce landscape of 2021, ongoing screening will also allow for agility and enhanced safety for remote, onsite and contingent workers. Workforce monitoring provides a unique way to continuously monitor your workforce with timely risk alerts on employee criminal behavior that may increase risk and liability – such as DUI, assaults, fraud, theft, domestic violence, and more. This approach is ideally suited to those positions that require an additional level of trust or certification, such as those found in the healthcare, education, and financial services industries, and is also particularly relevant to transportation and fleet services, as it alerts an employer to any motor vehicle violations.

Covid-19 Health Testing Program

As companies begin to return to work in 2021, defining what a safe workplace looks like now involves Covid-19 testing, and will soon also involve vaccine verification, for employees who come into contact with co-workers, clients, and the community. Protecting employees as well as communities will be top priority for many companies, and testing that follows directives from the CDC and government guidelines can ensure this priority is met. Alternatively, ongoing company-wide testing may not make sense for all organizations returning to work. For some, social distancing, wearing masks, and working remotely will be adequate. Covid-19 testing procedures will vary based on individual company needs, sizes, and budgets.

Current events and technology have brought these five trends into the spotlight as being critical in the hiring process. These essential employment screening solutions have and will continue to enhance the capabilities of HR and Talent Acquisition professionals globally.

These trends have been identified to offer information and guidance to employers and businesses. As companies rethink their hiring and retention plans, knowing the top trends will provide a considerable advantage over competitors.

Regardless of the latest trending screening technology or hiring strategy, the ultimate goal for employers is to attract and hire the right talent and set them up to succeed.

As we look ahead, it’s also important to keep in mind what The Future of Background Screening & Identity Verification looks like. Sophisticated technological enhancements will continue to advance in the years to come, and we must continue to be agile to both anticipated and unanticipated changes.

Vincenza Caruso-Valente is the General Manager of the Staffing, Retail, and Franchise business of Sterling, a leading provider of background and identity services. Find her on LinkedIn. For more information, visit Sterling or call 833.342.4571 with any questions you may have.

The information contained herein is for informational purposes only. Sterling is not a law firm, and none of the information contained in this notice is intended as legal advice. Clients are encouraged to consult with their legal counsel about the impacts of any requirements. This, and other important information can be found on the Sterling website at sterlingcheck.com.

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.