September 23rd, 2022 | Sterling

Businesses Can Address Hiring Challenges by Leveraging the HR Tech Stack

As businesses across industries continue to navigate a rapidly-evolving hiring landscape, the challenges facing HR professionals seem more pronounced than ever. Employee attrition rates have been steadily on the rise over the past two years; competition for qualified candidates remains exceptionally fierce; demand has increased for remote work arrangements; and the rise of the gig economy are all factors that have added a new layer of complexity to the recruitment process. Put simply, in order to more reliably hire workers today, employers must appeal to job seekers who not only have an influx of employment options, but whose expectations and mindset have been radically transformed over an incredibly short period of time.

Earlier this year, Sterling conducted a comprehensive industry survey to gain a better understanding of recent hiring and background screening challenges. Above all, we wanted to determine what may be driving trends in the hiring space, what the future may hold for hiring and screening processes, and where opportunities might exist to help businesses move confidently into the future. Over 1,200 HR professionals and more than 3,700 recent job seekers across multiple regions and industries participated in the survey, published in July 2022: Hiring Reimagined: Sterling’s 2022 Benchmark Report Provides Optimistic Outlook for HR Professionals.

While our research revealed a wealth of diverse and valuable insights, one major theme seemed to reinforce itself throughout the report: HR professionals are increasingly looking to invest in and adopt new technologies to improve the hiring process. In this blog, we’ll highlight some of our findings in more depth, including how employers hope to leverage modern background screening technology to enhance the overall candidate experience, and how ongoing investments in technology are shaping the future of the hiring and screening processes.

All Eyes Are on Company Culture and the Candidate Experience

Whether related to new types of work or a shortage of available candidates in a given industry, increased competition in the hiring landscape has been a significant hurdle for many businesses. When asked to identify some of the greater challenges facing hiring initiatives, half of our respondents said they couldn’t find enough qualified candidates to fill positions, while 40% cited the need to compete with new or alternative arrangements such as remote, hybrid, or contingent work.

Being up against a wide range of competition, it goes without saying that the ability to provide an optimal candidate experience is an absolute must for any business. What appears to be changing, however, is exactly what such an experience looks like in the eyes of today’s job seekers.

Our research found that “safety in the workplace” ranked among the top factors used by candidates to evaluate different job offers and ultimately decide where they would want to work. Specifically, 82% of respondents said that feeling safe among their coworkers was “very important,” and 59% who were recently satisfied with their background screening said it made them feel more confident about the company and the position. Moreover, a separate international survey, recently conducted by Glassdoor, suggests that company culture may even be of greater importance to workers than their salaries.

When it comes to safety and culture, HR teams are already well aware that background screening has an influence on the overall candidate experience. However, across almost every factor presented, employers failed to accurately predict which specific aspects of the screening process would be important to candidates. Most notably, whereas HR professionals believed that speed and efficiency would be the most critical elements of background screening to the candidate experience, candidates surveyed were actually more likely to prefer a screening process that is reflective of an organization’s culture and values. While this result is surprising, employers can help attract today’s candidates by creating an authentic workplace that lives up to corporate values and celebrates each new hire.

Technology’s Role in Streamlining Background Checks

So where does technology come into play? Our original research found that, of those survey respondents investing in their hiring process, the vast majority (89%) are actively investing in new technology to streamline the candidate experience and automate hiring. As our report concludes from this statistic, HR staff are looking to technology to help them operate more effectively and adapt to new hiring trends, such as increased candidate demands for transparency in the hiring process. In fact, an astounding 78% of candidates surveyed told us that “communication and proactive updates” were important to their background screening experience.

Today, it’s not only possible, but easily achievable, to provide a background check process that is seamless, accurate, and efficient. This process should also express (through ongoing engagement) an organization’s underlying values and culture, as well as their genuine interest in the candidate’s safety and well-being. By utilizing modern screening solutions powered by automation, in addition to tools like Sterling’s Candidate Hub, employers can dramatically reduce time-to-hire while optimizing candidate satisfaction, and never compromising on quality or compliance.

The Time to Invest in Technology is Now

Although our report certainly highlights the reality of a uniquely challenging landscape for HR professionals, it also reveals the inherent opportunity of investing in modern technology to improve the hiring process. In fact, investment in background screening and identity verification is emerging as a consensus solution among business leaders who increasingly agree that these processes stand to benefit significantly from digital transformation. For example, on page 18 of our “Hiring Reimagined” report, when our HR respondents were asked which changes they anticipate their organizations will make to their background screening programs in the next two years, the majority (52%) answered, “adding more services to make background screening more thorough.” Further, when asked what types of services they plan to implement, two out of three respondents (66%) in North America replied, “identity verification.”

Of the HR professional respondents who said they were actively investing in hiring initiatives, 89% cited a focus on acquiring new technologies to streamline the candidate experience and introduce automation into the hiring process. Additionally, another 39% said they were looking to improve their own experiences with the process by integrating background screening and identity verification into internal hiring workflows.

Are Your Candidates Really Who They Claim to Be?

To appreciate the depth of this opportunity, we need to recognize just how dramatically hiring has changed in recent years, especially as it relates to potential threats to employee and employer safety. Today’s candidates are increasingly cautious when it comes to their physical wellbeing; meanwhile the surge in remote work has itself led to a rise in fraud and identity theft. In another recent Sterling survey conducted in partnership with Staffing Industry Analysts, more than 30% of the 188 staffing companies surveyed reported an incident in which an employee who showed up for a job turned out to be someone different than initially claimed.

Fortunately, HR professionals are not in the dark when it comes to these issues.  In fact, our research found that more companies around the world are planning to invest in identity verification services than any other hiring technology. Hailing from several regions including North America, EMEA, and Asia Pacific, our respondents also named “social media screening” as their second-highest answer (#1 in EMEA), revealing their urgent need to add this new technology to the hiring process in order to help create a safer, more authentic workplace.

In addition to enhancing the level of scrutiny around verification, nearly half of our respondents agreed that background screening will also become more thorough in the next two years, with 52% of respondents actively planning to add more comprehensive screening solutions in the near future.

The bottom line? Hiring challenges facing organizations today are uniquely dynamic, and we can’t expect them to disappear overnight. However, when HR teams take the time to understand why their candidates are frustrated and where they can better align with these desires and expectations, they are immediately in a better position to identify and leverage the necessary tools to improve the candidate experience. It’s a cornerstone to help build a culture of trust which goes above and beyond the modern candidate’s expectations. Bridging the gap allows employers to more quickly and seamlessly celebrate the start of a new hire as a big win for both the company and the job seeker.

Learn more about these emerging trends in hiring and how investments in technology are shaping the future of background screening: download the full report here.

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.