July 27th, 2020 | Taylor Liggett, General Manager, Sterling Identity

COVID-19 Forces Us to Rethink Everything, Starting with Identity Verification

Woman talking to clients on Zoom

The gig and remote workforce — already rapidly expanding prior to COVID-19 — ballooned dramatically when “shelter in place” became mandatory for most workers. Employers were forced to adapt, and many found themselves scrambling to fully embrace and enable what quickly became our shared new reality. After an adjustment period that was relatively easy for some businesses and a significant challenge for many, something interesting happened. Many employers who had previously viewed working from home with skepticism, or even outright hostility, found themselves pleasantly surprised by how productive and engaged their teams remained. At the same time, employers still able and needing to hire found themselves struggling to figure out how to do so remotely. It’s a nontrivial challenge.

The COVID-19 pandemic offers us a glimpse of the future, today. It’s forced us to rethink old ways of doing business, and to recognize that it’s time, perhaps past time, to embrace modern approaches to hiring, onboarding, and employing our most treasured asset, people. And it all starts with identity verification. Verifying identity at the onset of candidate engagement offers crucial benefits to all employers, from the most traditional office-bound businesses to those with 100% remote workforces. Given recent announcements from several large companies, such as Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon, and Twitter, stating their intention to embrace a partial or even complete remote workforce model, the latter category seems likely to only grow.

Know Who You’re Hiring

Woman talking to clients on Zoom

Creating safer workplaces starts with identity. Most background screening providers do not offer identity verification as part of their screening packages, yet many HR professionals mistakenly assume that identity is verified automatically as part of the background screening process. Verifying the identity of your candidates at the start of the screening process using convenient and remote automated methods, such as Sterling Identity Verification, can help reduce unnecessary risk. In a recent 2019 survey conducted by HR.com’s HR Research Institute, 48% of respondents reported experiencing at least one instance of identity fraud in their organization. Data breaches and identity theft also continue to rise, exposing more identities to theft risk. According to the Identity Theft Resource Center’s “2019 End of Year Data Breach Report,” 2019 saw a 17% increase in data breaches compared to 2018, with over 164 million sensitive records exposed. Verifying candidate identity at the beginning of the hiring process can allow you to detect fraud early and deter bad actors from even applying, which ultimately helps you create a safer workplace for you and your employees.

Here are a few practical steps that you can take to protect your business:

  • Check with your background screening provider to see if they are verifying candidate identity prior to starting the background check process. Don’t assume this step is automatically happening.
  • Don’t assume that all information provided by prospective employees is complete or accurate. Moreover, conduct a background check and verify the identity of all prospective employees – including temporary, contract, part-time, and full-time. Don’t let a shortcut cost you – verify the identity of everyone who works for you and your customers.
  • Provide your employees with fraud awareness and prevention training. Empower your employees to be knowledgeable about identity theft, fraud, data breaches, and how each and every one of them can help reduce risk as well as exposure.
  • Implement clear reporting procedures within your company for suspicious or odd behavior. The earlier a potentially bad actor is detected, the lower the likelihood of possible damage to your business.

Improve Background Checks

Did you know that incorrect candidate biographic data, such as name or date of birth, can negatively impact the results of a background check? Whether due to intentional fraud or an innocent typo, inaccurate data can have significant downstream consequences. Remote smartphone-based identity verification solutions can capture accurate candidate data directly from government issued identity documents, and the accurate data can yield more accurate and complete background screening results.

Man virtually sending his identity documents for a background check

As more companies move toward screening and onboarding employees remotely, we can expect demand for innovative identity verification and data assurance technologies to continue to grow. Consequently, employers will see that incorporating identity verification at the front-end of the screening process can reduce costly delays and improve background check accuracy. Talk with your background screening provider about identity verification options they might offer to help improve screening quality.

Stay Ahead, Modernize the Candidate Experience

Man using phone to scan his face

Verifying candidate identity at the start of the hiring process with a simple, convenient, and remote process sends a clear message to candidates that they’re engaged with a forward-thinking employer that takes creating safe work environments seriously. Did you ever think hiring practices could become a competitive advantage? Welcome to the future.

Safer workplaces, be they remote or on premise, start with identity verification. It’s the first line of defense in the candidate screening process. Verifying that candidates are who they say they are offers multiple advantages. In addition to improving the hiring process, identity verification addresses potential risks to your organization’s reputation, employees, and customers. It can even deter bad actors from applying, saving additional time and expense while allowing you to make hiring decisions with greater confidence. Give your candidates a modern onboarding experience that demonstrates your commitment to creating a safe workplace. COVID-19 has forced us to embrace the future, today.

As we emerge from the pandemic and begin figuring out whether, if ever, employees will return to the workplace, HR professionals are being forced to rethink age-old recruiting and hiring processes and assumptions. How can these processes be conducted safely and efficiently in a world making dramatic shifts toward remote work? Thankfully, the tools have arrived to meet the need. Tools like video conferencing, automation, and identity verification are allowing HR professionals to modernize and improve the candidate experience. According to KPMG’s “The Future of HR 2019: In the Know or in the No,” about two-thirds of HR executives agree that HR has undergone or is going to undergo a digital transformation – and this was before COVID-19. As we reopen our economy and business ramps up, candidates will evaluate a company’s technology usage and ability to provide remote working options when making job acceptance decisions. A recent survey by the Conference Board revealed that almost 70% of respondents believe at least 1 in 10 employees will be working primarily from home 12 months after emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic. Financially, this means some companies will be able to downsize and save on office-related expenses – according to a recent Gartner survey, 74% of CFOs plan to move 5% of previously on-site workforce to remote positions post-COVID-19.

Remote work is here to stay. To remain ahead, many companies will need to adapt by embracing modern practices.

Connect with us, let’s start a conversation around integrating identity verification into your remote hiring and return to workplace initiatives.

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.