July 22nd, 2020 | Sterling

Sterling Poll Data Reveals Challenges of Screening During COVID-19

Woman at work looking for background checks

The COVID-19 pandemic presented organizations large and small with myriad new challenges related to hiring practices. Early on in the crisis, for example, organizations that were still hiring had to adapt quickly to remote hiring and remote onboarding. Today, as we continue emerging from the crisis, many more organizations are focused on how best to manage returning to work and being compliant while hiring.

Over the past two months, Sterling conducted several polls that ran on our website and our LinkedIn channel to better understand these challenges. We looked at four key areas: overall background checks, drug and health screening, identity verification, and candidate management. Below are key highlights that the polls uncovered, as well as perspective from Sterling to help address each challenge.

POLL 1: What’s your biggest background check challenge at this stage in the COVID-19 crisis?

bar graph on background check challenges

The top challenge noted among our audiences regarding background checks was screening to hire new employees (55% of respondents), followed by getting full information due to closed courts and institutions (24%), and rescreening returning employees (11%). A total of 10% of respondents noted “other” challenges.

Sterling perspective: COVID-19 led some hiring organizations into thinking that background check delays and court closures meant they needed to lower their standards and not fully screen new hires. Healthcare and other essential industries that ramped up hiring at the outset of the pandemic were faced with the challenge of screening to hire new employees, and some presumed the only way to do so was to trade safety for speed.

At Sterling, this is simply not true. We believe that organizations should never have to choose between fast hiring and the safe cultures they have come to rely on. To support these organizations, we fulfilled background screening in over 95% of US jurisdictions from the beginning of the crisis. Today, we’re at 99.8% and are committed to delivering fast, more accurate, and reliable background screening and identity services.

Organizations spend time and money to make sure they know exactly who they are hiring, but what about ongoing screening and rescreening? 11% of respondents told us they are challenged with rescreening returning employees. As economic changes happened rapidly, decisions to establish temporary furloughs and layoffs were seen across multiple industries. Rescreening mitigates risk and allows your organization to flag instances that may have occurred during the time of furlough or being separated from the company. When your organization is ready to bring back furloughed employees, or rehire those who were laid off, it is important to have a rescreening program in place to protect your employees, customers, partners, and brand.

POLL 2: What’s your biggest and current drug and health screening challenge at this stage in the COVID-19 crisis?

Covid 19 bar graph

When it comes to drug and health screening, we found that poll respondents were challenged by candidates who were concerned about being exposed to COVID-19 at labs (48%), test results taking too long or being unavailable (21%), and ensuring candidates are healthy enough to bring into the workforce (10%). A total of 21% of respondents noted “other” challenges.

Sterling perspective: While many labs stayed open, some collection sites and clinics did close due to safety concerns. As they reopened, measures were put in place to restore confidence in those going through the screening process.

For those organizations concerned with tests taking too long or being unavailable, we continue to offer drug and health screening services through our key partners. We use a combination of daily feeds and direct integrations to allow our collection site databases to be consistently updated. Our electronic ordering and online registration allow us to scale new programs quickly and efficiently. We’re continuing to work with our partners to maintain the continuity of our drug and health services.

If your organization is faced with the challenge of ensuring candidates are healthy enough to bring into the workforce, and you are also currently defining your return-to-workplace plan, we’re here to help. Sterling has created innovative services and solutions to address the pandemic by coordinating a flexible end-to-end COVID-19 testing program. Designed to help organizations maintain safety in the workplace, our health testing services offer broad program coverage to include your employees, contractors, and others you do business with.

POLL 3: What’s your biggest and current identity verification challenge at this stage of the COVID-19 crisis?

Biggest identity verifications challenge bar graph

Survey respondents told us that the biggest challenge they faced regarding identity verification when hiring was doing so quickly (54%), followed by the inability to validate a candidate’s identity in person (23%), and managing I-9 policies with remote hiring (15%). A total of 8% of respondents noted “other” challenges.

Sterling perspective: As many organizations continue to work in remote settings, identity verification is more important than ever. Quickly verifying a candidate’s identity can be difficult without being in-person and having to complete Form I-9 remotely.

Sterling offers flexible options for both onsite and remote completion so that you can quickly verify a candidate’s identity when hiring. We also published a blog that provided guidance on I-9 remote hiring practices.

POLL 4: What’s your biggest and most current candidate management challenge at this stage in the COVID-19 crisis?

Canidat crisis in Covid-19 bar graph

The final poll around candidate management reveals that the top challenge was not being able to interview candidates face-to-face (59%), followed by not having enough qualified candidates submitting job applications (15%), and being deluged with candidate applications (11%). A total of 15% noted “other” challenges.

Sterling perspective: While there may be challenges associated with remote interviewing, it’s crucial to work to maintain a strong candidate experience from start to finish. Interviews via video chat are of course a logical and safe option to take if a hiring manager and a candidate can’t be in the same physical location. Technology will continue to play a key role on this front, as the majority of organizations operating today are leveraging video for meetings on a daily basis. This trend will continue to become more standard as the world adapts to the challenges presented by the pandemic.

If your organization falls into the 11% of being deluged with applications, remember, as stated earlier, safety need not be sacrificed for speed. Organizations that are looking to scale quickly but are facing the challenge of too many applicants and cannot complete background screenings fast enough can turn to Sterling to help speed things along.

As organizations begin to reopen and put their return-to-work plans into place, it’s important to partner with a trusted background screening provider that can help get new employees onboarded with timely, more accurate screenings, and to get your current workforce back into the office safely.

To learn more about how Sterling can help your organization, contact us today.

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.