November 17th, 2021 | Sterling

6 Top Trends in Employment and Identity Screening

The effects of the Covid-19 pandemic continue to present organizations of all sizes with a myriad of new challenges related to hiring practices. HR leaders are looking ahead, and as we continue to adapt to the constant shifts we are seeing in the workforce, employers are focusing on how best to manage potentially returning to work and compliant hiring practices, whether in-person, remote, or hybrid.

Amid the uncertainty and disruption of 2020 and 2021, Sterling provided criminal background checks and identity verification, as well as Covid testing and a host of other services, to thousands of organizations, staffing firms, and professionals across the globe, helping them hire safely, quickly, and with attention to compliance. Based on our industry expertise and our clients’ unique hiring needs during these unprecedented times, we have seen six trends emerge for criminal background check and verification services in 2021 and predict they will remain as we move into 2022.

1. Candidate Experience

The process to run a background check on a candidate shouldn’t create obstacles. A smooth and simplified candidate experience for both remote and onsite candidates continues to be a top priority for employers around the globe. 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 criminal 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 Inaccurate screening reports, unwieldy information gathering processes, or delays caused by the use of outdated technology can cause candidates who’ve already accepted a job offer to reconsider their commitment.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 candidates 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.

The speed with which a candidate goes through the application process has a large impact on experience as well. But no organization needs to sacrifice confidence in hiring for speed. As an employer, you can mitigate risk, protect your brand, and give employees a feeling of security in the screening process with a partner like Sterling. We provide accuracy and speed in time to hire by going to the source to get the right information on each candidate being screened. And since every company has different processes and requirements, we help customize the screening experience, apply custom instructions and dynamic questions, integrate required documents for a specific industry, business need or regulatory process, and track candidate status throughout the 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.

2. 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. The shift to remote work created a trend of remote hiring that is here to stay. In this new environment, a person may be hired and onboarded without ever meeting anyone in-person, so 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 continue to progress. As we saw in certain sectors in 2020 and are seeing now, this will necessitate rapid, urgent hiring.

We are also seeing a large shift to remote work which drives the need for identity verification. According to a report from Intuit, 80% of organizations plan to augment their flexible workforce in the coming years with contingent workers making up over 40% of the total workforce. A shift to remote work increases the importance of identity verification to stop the rise of fraud in the workplace, bad actors entering your workforce, losing investment in the recruitment cycle, and negatively impacting your brand.

Organizations need to continue to carry out due diligence on everyone they hire in order to preserve their corporate cultures, and to build trust and safety.

3. A More Flexible Workforce

With the labor shortage and uncertain times still ahead, various industries are still facing tough challenges they’ve never 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 depending on economic recovery, additional lockdowns, and instability of traditional hiring and working. As companies rebuild their staffing rosters, they’ll need to incorporate contingent labor into their overall plans in order to maintain productivity, remain competitive, and kick-start 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 landscape.

4. Re-screening, Periodic Screening, and Ongoing Workforce Monitoring

While pre-hire criminal 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 we are now in, 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 updates 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 possible motor vehicle violations.

5. Covid-19 Vaccine Collection

As some companies begin to return to work, defining what a safe workplace looks like goes beyond Covid-19 testing, and now involves providing vaccination status for employees who come into contact with co-workers, clients, and the community. Protecting employees as well as communities is a top priority for many companies, so they need to be equipped with the right tools to track vaccination status to make informed decisions for their businesses. Companies need to operate with minimal disruption. With our recently launched Covid-19 Vaccine Collection tool, Sterling can help with the heavy lifting to coordinate your Covid-19 vaccine collection and status tracking in a centralized, tech-enabled manner. Other actions to keep your return-to-work programs safe and compliant may still need to take place, so we always recommend keeping up with the latest CDC guidelines for returning to the office in your location.

6. Keeping Compliance at the Forefront

Compliance is constantly evolving, especially in today’s remote-first world. It’s vital to place priority on built-in compliance capabilities that follow regulatory requirements and save you time. Your criminal background screening partner should also have a team of compliance experts that keep you informed of current legislative and regulatory changes and offer tools and best practice insights you can leverage to help you meet your compliance obligations. New labor market realities have made it more important than ever to minimize margin of error, streamline hiring processes, and improve the candidate experience.

More than 90% of executives expect risk management to become more important to achieving strategic goals in the next five years, according to a recent Deloitte study on the importance of investing in risk management. This is why partnering with a strong background check provider like Sterling is important to help you efficiently and compliantly screen candidates and get them to work faster.

Current events and technology have brought these six 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 as we look ahead to 2022. 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.

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.