June 3rd, 2020 | Sterling

Strategies for Hiring Safely in the New World Ahead

Elbow bump

Webinar Recap

A key topic for many staffing firms across the nation is how to navigate hiring safely and effectively as we emerge from the COVID-19 crisis. On May 19, 2020, Sterling partnered with SIA (Staffing Industry Analysts) to discuss strategies on how to hire safely in the new world ahead.

Improving the Employee and Candidate Experience

Sterling’s General Manager of Staffing, Retail, and Franchise Vincenza Caruso-Valente posed this question to webinar attendees: “How well do your  organization’s current recruitment processes and solutions support rapid scaling, while balancing safety?” Safety and technology have been a common theme across the global workforce, so firms should learn how to accelerate recruitment, hiring, and onboarding through data-driven and technology-based solutions. The technology and web-based tools they have in place will be key to hiring safely and swiftly as part of the “new normal”.

Vincenza went on to explain how worker sentiment is driving employer strategies. Everything from how organizations source applicants – from how candidates are engaged and communicated to in the process, to how they are hired and onboarded – has changed. “We are seeing organizations evolve key activities such as interviewing and revision of safety and hiring policies. With the number of Americans that have lost their jobs, there naturally are many individuals currently looking for work. Staffing firms thus need to become increasingly efficient with how they approach candidate pools, understanding the expectations of those candidates, and hiring the best talent”.

According to a PwC survey, workers are rating on-the-job-safety as their #1 concern when returning to work and approximately 70% of current job candidates are already looking for new opportunities “because their current organization hasn’t given them the confidence in their ability to keep them safe and alternatively, they need [overall] flexibility.” Workers are showing a greater need for more communication and transparency from their employers as they return to work. When it comes to hiring, the power has shifted from organizations to candidates, as candidates influence how the process of recruitment continues to grow and evolve, how they want to be communicated to, and what they expect.

Verifying Identity

General Manager of Sterling Identity, Taylor Liggett, went into more detail with one of the biggest problems of a more digital and technologically advanced world: protecting one’s identity and verifying that people are who they say they are.

Taylor talked about Form I-9, and how it is usually the “first time most of us check an employee’s ID after we hire them. Moreover, we entrust people to do this who are not [always] trained at document fraud authentication,” he related. On top of that, I-9 verifications must be done in person, a practice that has not necessarily changed much since its creation in 1986. I-9 thus may not be the best solution to verify identity in the age of increased identity fraud, Taylor explained. Increases in data breaches mean that more Personally Identifiable Information (PII) is obtained for misuse, and superior graphics technology makes it possible to forge government-issued documents. This has resulted in over 45,000+ employment/tax related fraud reports in 2019, and millions of identities stolen. Further, 48% of respondents from a Sterling/HR.com survey reported at least one instance of identity fraud at their organization. Beyond that, the COVID-19 crisis has massively expanded remote working, with many organizations becoming more inclined to continuing remote work options as they emerge from the crisis.

As organizations adapt to the next normal in safety, recruitment, and hiring, there is a growing need for companies to speed up and modernize their hiring and onboarding processes. “Incorrect information can dramatically alter the results of a background check,” Taylor noted, explaining that “data quality matters” in the timing and success of the hiring process. The good news is that technology has also improved to help employers in the way they hire and onboard through advancements such as artificial intelligence, blockchain, next-generation cloud technology, and biometrics.

Sterling is a proud provider in identity verification, with a simple four-step process to verify the identity of candidates in an efficient and seamless process. Through ID document capture, ID validation, biometric comparison, and data extraction, Sterling can help you strengthen and optimize your background screening process, while simplifying remote and virtual hiring.

Remaining Compliant

Sterling’s Senior Vice President and Counsel for Corporate Ethics and Compliance, Angela Preston, walked through key areas such as stay-at-home orders, return-to-work and COVID-19 compliance, and pre-shift screening and COVID-19 testing.

Stay-at-home orders have greatly impacted court closures and access to information sources, which have in some cases slowed the speed of criminal checks, employment verifications, and education verifications as the institutions that house this information may be closed or returning results at a reduced rate. Starting in mid-May, many states issued return-to-work executive orders. Today, the re-opening of states and cities has started.

Organizations should keep these compliance considerations in mind as states re-open, making sure you have clear candidate communication on background checks/conditional offers, utilizing the “evergreen or continuous consent” in the Authorization and Disclosure forms under the FCRA, and remembering that firms are still subject to requirements such as the FCRA, Ban the Box and Fair Chance ordinances, and EEOC Guidelines at this time.

There are four areas of return-to-work compliance to keep in mind:

  • Review the latest CDC compliance
  • Review the OSHA compliance guidelines, especially for an Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response Plan
  • Review state and local executive orders
  • Review the EEOC for pre-screening and temperature-taking guidelines

Types of pre-shift screening and COVID-19 screening options to keep in mind include: pre-shift screening to establish if a person is “fit” to go to work at that moment can be done through questionnaires or other options such as a temperature test or a COVID-19 test. Be aware that there are always exceptions/limitations for using a diagnostic test as a condition to go to work, and that currently, the EEOC has not approved “repeat” testing.

Questions Asked During the Webinar

Here are some of the questions we were asked, and our answers:

Q: What are the key focus areas staffing firms should be focused on in the next normal?
A: 1) How their technology is prepared for incorporating safety into their recruitment and hiring processes; 2) How their current hiring policies and practices will change and impact overall risk, time to hire and, scaling hiring pools; 3) Clear and transparent communication with candidates on the hiring process and how their safety is priority #1 in roles they are applying for.

Q: Does Sterling offer Identity Verification as a product offering right now?
A: Sterling Identity Verification is available today via API (of particular interest to our gig economy customers and contingent workforce, of whom several are already using the service), and will be integrated into our screening platforms in Q3 2020.

Q: ­When can you legally ask for ID documentation, selfies, etc. for ID verification?­
A: There are no laws that specifically address the timing for verifying the identity of a candidate. The decision will depend on your hiring practices, and potentially the requirements of a particular industry or position. As you consider your policies around onboarding new candidates, especially with remote hiring becoming more prevalent, moving identity to take place earlier in the process can reduce your risk of receiving inaccurate information or even basing a hiring decision on fraudulent information and hiring a bad actor.

Girl on Video conference

Summary

In order to best prepare for hiring in the evolving global economic landscape, the following focus areas will be necessary for staffing firms and other organizations to focus on:

  • A flexible business plan that allows for agility in enabling efficient processes
  • Effective communication to enable ongoing safety and trust in the recruitment process and candidate experience
  • Modern recruitment and screening strategies to optimize efficient, safe, and compliant hiring
  • Ensuring your business priorities align to scaling hiring while keeping your clients, recruiters, and candidates in mind

You can listen to the entire webinar here. For more information on how Sterling can help you navigate hiring safely, please reach out via email at SterlingStaffing@sterlingcheck.com or call us at 833.342.4571.

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.