Gig workers, including temporary staff have provided a surprising paradigm shift in employment dynamics in the recent American history. The gig economy in the USA has increased considerably in the recent past. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics, it has been estimated that gig workers and non-traditional employees have grown in numbers at a steady pace since 2015 and are expected to continue to grow even further i.e.; doubling in the next 5 years.
According to American Staffing Association, more than three million temporary and contract employees work for America’s staffing companies during an average week. During the course of a year, America’s staffing companies hire nearly 15 million temporary and contract employees.
With this shift in worker demographics, it is time that employers take necessary precautions to mitigate the risks associated with the gig economy. Pre-employment background screening is one of the best ways to counter the risk of hiring temporary staff in the organization. In most organizations, it is mandatory to carry out pre-employment background checks for full-time employees. But, only a select few conduct comprehensive background screening of part-timers and even fewer when it comes to conducting it on temporary staff.
There is a reason for making this decision. To carry out background checks organizations need to spend money. They think about saving this cost by ignoring background screening of temporary employees. For example; An organization will think it useless to carry out a background check on a temporary worker doing a one-off freelance job. But the fact is that not conducting background check of temporary staff has a lot of similar risks as those of not conducting background screening of permanent employees.
Given below are some of the most important reasons why you should conduct background checks of your temporary staff as well.
# 1 Know the person you are inviting as a part of your corporate family
Every employee that you hire in your organization, irrespective of whether it is full-time or temporary staff is the the brand ambassador of your organization. Temporary staff can especially become the face of the organization by interacting with customers or supporters at corporate events. Temporary staff, including part-time employees and volunteers are all part of your one big corporate family. They have all the power to affect you positively or negatively. Hence, conducting pre-employment background screening of these employees will make you get an overall idea about the person you are inviting to be a part of your corporate family, albeit for a temporary period.
# 2 To safeguard your brand image
A temporary staff can negatively impact your organization’s brand image in the same way as a full-time employee can. For example; if your temp assaults a co-worker, legal action can still be taken against your organization since you made the original decision to hire the temp without due diligence. By practicing alertness and conducting pre-employment background screening of temporary staff, it is possible for you to protect your organization’s brand image, end any accusations of carelessness and limit your accountability.
# 3 To provide a safe work environment
Carrying out background screening of temporary staff can protect your organization from facing any lawsuits. But more than that, it will provide a safety net to you. If a temporary staff has a history of repeating violent crimes, they may not be the wisest choice to be onboard for a position that requires collaborative team effort or speaking with customers. Although, they are not full-time employees of the organization, there is always a risk in selecting a person who is dangerous for the work environment. Remember, as an employer it is your responsibility to provide a safe working environment for all your employees and also your customers.
# 4 To protect your organization from employee theft and fraud
In the United States alone, the annual cost of employee theft and fraud is between $ 20 billion and $ 50 billions. Although, full-time employees have more time to steal items from the workplace, that does not mean that a temporary staff in charge of a cash box will not steal money, or a temp with the access to your organization’s accounts will not manipulate the record books. You can prevent these expensive incidents by conducting background screening.
In most organizations, full-time employees have highest levels of access. They are the ones who are looking after financial accounts, proprietary information, customer details and other sensitive documents and data. But the temporary staff do not share the same level of responsibility. This very reason makes most of the organizations skip conducting background check of temporary staff. But you will still have to give some level of access to them. It can be as basic as the login credentials of your organization’s employee portal. And when you give access you will need to make sure that access is given to the right person. Background screening helps you be sure.
# 6 Temporary staff has the opportunity to become full-time employees
Although temporary staff are not the full-time employees of your organization, they do have an opportunity to become full-time employees. Although volunteers are very less likely to move into full-time roles, they still have the same kind of knowledge and experience that can make them good candidates. If you conduct background check of temporary staff in your organization, when the time is right, they can easily be given full-time roles.
It is high time that organizations should have the same standards of evaluation when it comes to temporary staff and full-time employees. But before doing that organizations need to contemplate on the legal aspects of conducting background checks for temporary staff. This can be done by conducting the background checks on a case-to-case basis, varying between different roles. For example; a temporary staff providing freelancing writing job will pose less risk, than the one who has to deal with the financial accounts of the organization. The right way to move forward would be to accept background screening of temporary staff as a transition strategy for organizations and let it ease into the organizational culture as time goes by.
cFIRST Think Tank is the team that researches and produces content for cFirst. This team comprises of seasoned content and digital design professionals and background screening industry veterans. Together we produce insightful blogs, infographics and reports meant for HR and background screening professionals.