The fact that your organization performs background checks on employees isn’t (and shouldn’t be) a secret. Beyond being a tool you use to evaluate employees and applicants, it’s also a visible way for others to evaluate your organization for their own purposes. For a variety of good reasons, you need to be sure your employment screening process is well-designed, effective, and fair.
Your Background Screening Program Tells Stakeholders You’re Serious about Safety and Success
Every organization has a variety of stakeholders, meaning people who have a vested interest in the organization’s performance and success. These may include owners, supply chain or distribution partners, top management, long-time employees, regular customers, and perhaps others in the community. Whether these individuals are actually subject to screening, they see the quality of the screening program as a measure of the quality of the organization overall.
The most obvious purpose of background screening is to match the job to the best candidate available. Over time, the ability of managers to find good people is one of the most critical factors driving the organization forward. A good screening program will be highly cost effective in supporting the organization’s positive goal achievement.
At the same time, it is a basic responsibility of management to mitigate risks to the extent feasible, ensuring a safe and productive workplace. In this view, employment screening is one of many parts of a complete risk management strategy, with a particular focus on human capital risks. The value of background screening in mitigating risk is harder to measure when it’s working well, because fewer bad things happen. However, stakeholders will recognize this success if it is emphasized in strategic planning.
Your Background Screening Program Tells Applicants You’re Serious about Safety and Success
Employees and job applicants who experience the background screening program obviously form opinions about it, and about the organization. Employees view screening as a desirable function management uses to create a safe, stable workforce. Most employees want to contribute, and that is much easier when they have teammates they can depend on.
Job applicants can view screening as an obstacle or as an opportunity. Either way, the kind of screening you do broadcasts how seriously you perform due diligence, and therefore how seriously you take the job and the applicants for it. In some cases, a thorough screening process might dissuade an applicant who is not qualified or is prone to misstate or mislead on a resume.
Your Background Screening Program Tells Regulators You’re Serious about Compliance
Background screening has been in the news a lot, not in a good way. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Federal Trade Commission, which implements the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), have both been in courts suing employers whose screening programs are deficient in design or implementation. With a quality background screening program in place you can try to avoid being the subject of these lawsuits which can be damaging to an organization’s reputation, as well as costly to defend.
The quality of your background screening program, the fact that it follows the letter of the law and the guidelines of key agencies, tells regulators you respect the goal of fairness and safety in hiring.
A high quality background screening process that is legally compliant, effective in finding good candidates, and successful in mitigating risks is well worth the investment. Every organization, its stakeholders, and its employees benefit from this kind of program.