As a recruiter, you might have come across organizations that conduct background screening just to tick off their hiring checklist. Such organizations fail to see the bigger picture of how employee background screening contributes to achieving the overall organizational objectives. While there is nothing wrong with the approach, it does not serve the strategic value that is realized while carrying out a high quality employment screening program.
By taking a holistic and systematic approach you can resolve the common problems faced by organizations while building an employment screening program. These include:
- Decreased staff productivity
- Facing negligent lawsuits
- High employee turnover
- High training costs
- Lack of product quality
- Loss of proprietary information
- Negligent hiring
- Occurrences of theft
- Workplace violence including threats and actual violence
Let us now look at the steps that will assist you in building a high quality employment screening program.
1. Have a well-defined background screening policy in place
Every organization needs to have a consistent, compliant and cost-effective employment screening policy. A well-devised employment screening policy will contribute towards consistency and efficiency in your hiring process before you conduct pre-employment background screening of prospective candidates. It is advisable to take the help of a legal counselor while developing a background screening policy.
2. Define the objective & scope of your employment screening program
Your employment screening program needs to protect your employees, contractors, customers and the general public from the people they come in contact with. It needs to explain the objective of conducting employment screening and also define the scope of the program along with the types of positions that are going to be subject to screening. The scope includes:
- What will be included in the background screening for employment?
- Who will run the background screening process and in what frequency?
- What are the different types of background screening that will be run?
- How will the information be used?
- Will it have an effect on the employment opportunities?
- Will you be using a professional background screening vendor to run the process? If yes; which agency?
- How are you going to handle the disputes and verify the accuracy of the information found in the screening report?
3. Assign the person responsible and authorized to conduct the program
Your program should be able to clearly define the people responsible for implementation and management of the program. It should define the types of employment decisions that can be made by each individual who is involved in the administration of the program. There are certain situations that require “judgment” call. It is important to decide who is going to shoulder that responsibility. The best call is to define the role in detail by writing it down.
- The key responsibilities for the job
- Essential hard skills required to be successful in the role
- Soft skills (teamwork, working under pressure and organizational skills) that can aid the person that needs to take the role
- The type of culture you want to build in the organization and the type of person that can positively contribute to this culture
- Work experience
- Education and training credentials
The person you select will have to be a multi-tasker who shoulders the responsibility of overseeing each and every step of the screening process.
4. Consider all the legal implications and employment screening guidelines
Your employment screening programs need to consider any legal implications pertaining to the federal, state or local laws that can affect your screening process. There are situations where these laws act as a guideline while performing screening for certain positions. In India, there is no specific law governing the employment screening of candidates. But, in the US, you need to specify in your employment screening program how your organization is following the FCRA requirements, EEOC guidelines, anti-discriminatory laws, Ban the Box laws and other related screening laws. With the help of the program, you should be able to get a clear direction about the way the screening needs to be conducted.
Always ensure that you are consistent and equitable to all the candidates and employees during the screening process. The program should provide a guideline and clear direction so that the employment screening process is followed in a uniform and impartial manner across all candidates. Take the help of an experienced legal counselor that can assist you in dealing with the compliance environment effectively and get the most out of your employment screening program.
5. Define the screening process
Having a screening program is one thing, but implementing it is another. You need to define the screening process while building your employment screening program detailing step-by-step process how the screening will be done. This will make the hiring manager and the candidate in question know how things happen and when. You can formulate your screening process on job-to-job basis. For example; if you are hiring a person that requires lots of driving, you need to incorporate driving history check in the screening. For a desk job, driving record check is not essential.
Define the process, including the type of screenings that will be performed, the frequency of the screenings, the positions in the organization where it will be applicable and the criterion that will separate an acceptable from an unacceptable screening result. It is also extremely important to keep all the data collected throughout the process to be safe and secured so that the privacy of the candidates is not compromised.
6. Maintain consistency across all candidates and employees
Build an employment screening program in such a way that there is no scope for discrimination and there is consistency maintained during the screening process. Have a policy to have a standard process being followed for conducting the employment screening process. Those applying or being employed in the same position need to be screened through the same format of screening.
7. Take the services of an experienced background screening vendor
Most of the organizations do not have the necessary in-house expertise to manage the logistics when it comes to data collection and use it for employment purposes. This is where an experienced background screening company can assist you gain clarity, consistency and congruence when it comes to implementing the screening process. The cost of outsourcing this service is seldom more than the cost of running the program in-house.
8. Have a policy to rescreen all or selected staff annually by taking proper measures
If your organization wants to run screening on a continuous basis, it is best to let the employees know about it from the very first day of their hire date. Implement a policy where each and every employee or a selected staff is rescreened on an annual basis consistently. This way the employees in your organization will consider it to be a common practice in your workplace.