April 24th, 2020 | Alla Schay, General Manager, Industrials, Government, and Education

Powering On: How Essential Businesses Are Rallying Forces Amid the COVID-19 Crisis

Key phrases that have become part of our regular vocabulary and way of thinking are “essential businesses” and “essential workers.” Before the COVID-19 pandemic, we may have used these terms to describe those who venture out during a snowstorm or other weather-related emergencies, to fix a downed power line, for example. Up until recently, we’ve been more accustomed to conditions that typically last for several hours, days, or even weeks, in that vein. Our present situation, however, is far more open-ended and uncertain.

Looking through the current lens of how the coronavirus crisis is changing the ways that we live and work, “essential” has come to mean those jobs that can only be performed in-person, and must be done to maintain the public’s immediate health and general welfare. Healthcare workers, first responders, key support staff, and those who work within the supply chain for critical durable goods and food are some of the most prominent examples that come to mind.

Fulfilling Critical Needs

Within Sterling’s Industrials, Government, and Education vertical, numerous clients continue to perform their essential work, or have adjusted their businesses to fulfill a critical need in their communities. We are proud to partner with our clients that are doing critical and highly impactful work right now, such as:

  • Protecting and maintaining the operation of our energy power grid
  • Producing and supplying necessary items to hospitals and medical facilities, ranging from bed sheets to uniforms, from personal protective equipment, to food
  • Maintaining supply chains by various modes of transportation including trucking, trains, and others
  • Continuing to educate students nationally through very different means of delivery than usual.

Some may take for granted that the lights have stayed on, we still have internet connectivity, and that gasoline remains available. The energy sector qualifies as essential, for example, since it is the lifeblood of everything we rely on. There are people physically going to work every day during this crisis to make all of this possible for us.

Operating Without Interruption

Maintaining the energy grid also directly permits manufacturers to operate without interruption, in some cases beyond their pre-COVID-19 levels. Here, a steady supply of fuel allows goods to move through the supply chain via trucks, trains, planes, and ships.

One such example is Siemens, a Sterling client and global powerhouse focusing on the areas of electrification, automation, and digitalization. Portions of its business that are deemed essential involve the electric grid, healthcare and medical, and transportation. To maintain a safe working environment in its manufacturing locations, where there may be inherent challenges to social distancing, Siemens is in the process of onboarding hundreds of individuals to check employees’ temperatures. By identifying those who may be unfit for work on a particular day, exposure to a range of illnesses can be reduced. Having worked so closely with Siemens through the years, we’ve seen that it always has taken seriously the notion of creating trust and safety for its employees and customers. The company has taken this foundational attitude and further amplified it in order to protect its workforce, customers, and the communities in which it operates.

The work being done by essential businesses across America is heroic, and we are inspired to excel in the role we play in maintaining the pipeline of new employees when and where they are needed, sometimes on very short notice. Now more than ever, background screening needs to operate as a seamless and efficient part of the hiring process.

As we all are reliant upon essential services and the workers that provide them, delivering robust, compliance-focused background screening – quickly and thoroughly – is paramount. An incomplete background check can result in an employer rolling the dice, sacrificing trust and safety, and potentially posing a risk to its people as well as its reputation.

Fulfilling Background Checks Amid Court Closures

A critical piece of fulfilling criminal background checks is network availability, and specifically, the ability to quickly access court records. This allows employers to safely onboard candidates into critical roles. In the same way that delivering energy or goods simply can’t wait, delivering reliable background screening also can’t wait in some cases.

This is where the most effective screening processes are showing differentiation. At a time when more court jurisdictions are closed and records cannot be accessed in traditional, physical locations, technology integrations that enable records access without human intervention are even more critical. Until recently, key measures of success for court records were speed and accuracy. We can now add “accessible” as a key indicator of speed, since the inability to complete a background check can delay the hiring process and prevent the execution of critical business needs.

Similarly, incomplete background check results in an employer needing to roll the dice, sacrifice their commitment trust and safety, and pose a risk to their employees, customers, as well as their communities and reputation. Whether your business is hiring right now or not, now is the time to ask your background screener about its ability to fulfill criminal checks. Demand to know the specifics—exactly how is this working, and how operations are different right now as compared to pre-crisis circumstances. Provide specific locations where you operate and tend to hire workers so that you can learn any likely impacts from COVID-19 closures.

Many background screening providers are reporting that they are unable to fulfill the most basic criminal checks. On April 9, an HR Dive article, Court closures during COVID-19 cause background check concerns, discusses the cause of delays arising from the current scenario while hiring for critical roles that need to be filled immediately. An impediment like this not only adversely affects people who may be looking for work right now, but also the economy at large.

Be wary of cutting corners and incomplete searches at this time. The reality is that businesses do not need to compromise their work culture by choosing between fast and safe hiring, even amid this crisis.

Who could imagine flipping on a switch and wondering whether the lights will come on? When turning on the hiring switch to fill critical roles, it is now even more important to know the systems you have are in place will work with speed and accuracy, and not create needless uncertainties or impediments on your ability to deliver at this critical time.

To learn more about the measures Sterling has taken to continue to deliver environments of trust and safety for our clients during the COVID-19 crisis, please visit our COVID-19 website.

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.