5 Key Areas to Audit in Your Background Screening Program

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According to the 2011 HireRight Employment Screening Benchmarking Report, 90 percent of surveyed organizations reported that they did not expect to decrease their workforce in the next 12 months. Additionally, more than half of the organizations anticipated a potential increase in their workforce in the next year (in 2010 only 43 percent of companies expected to expand their work force).

While the anticipated increase in hiring is good news, many employers may have background screening programs that are ill-prepared to meet this demand.

What Does Increased Hiring Mean for Background Screening?
As hiring picks up again, employers need to know they are hiring the right people, and employers should minimize the potential compliance, legal and reputational risks that can occur when potentially harmful individuals slip through the cracks.

With the recent lull in hiring, many organizations may have gotten lax with their background screening program. However, with the anticipated increase in hiring, now is the time that employers should consider evaluating their current program.

Employment background check initiatives

Source: 2011 HireRight Employment Screening Benchmarking Report

It is recommended that employers conduct thorough self-audits of their existing employment background screening programs on a regular basis and in anticipation of any workforce expansion. In fact, 42 percent of employers surveyed in our benchmarking report said that they intended to review their employment screening standards in the next year (this is more than double the 2010 results).

With a comprehensive background screening program in place, organizations can reduce the potential risk of costly fines by remaining compliant with state, federal and industry regulations. A thorough background screening program also gives an organization greater confidence that it’s not hiring individuals with certain criminal backgrounds and that the employer reduces possible legal claims and reputational damage.

5 Areas to Monitor in a Background Screening Self-Audit
Below are five of the main areas that an employer should evaluate when conducting an internal audit of its employment background screening program:

1. Compliance
Each employer has a different regulatory footprint, depending on which states it operates in and whether it is part of a highly-regulated field like health care, transportation or financial services.

To avoid costly penalties from a non-compliant program, the legal and human resources departments should come together at least annually to evaluate existing and pending state and federal legislation, and industry regulations, to confirm their program is built for compliance every step of the way. It is also advisable to put a team in place to monitor compliance issues and proactively address changes in government or industry regulations.

2. Consistency
A self-audit can also help to identify potential costly gaps in your current employment background screening program. Proactive organizations cannot only find ways to improve the screening process, but also correct any paperwork errors, such as I-9 mistakes, which could be costly in the event of a federal audit.

Employers who require mandatory drug screening should also check that their policy for employee selection, notification and testing are consistent, randomized and non-discriminatory.

3. Timeliness
When we surveyed companies about their top employment screening challenges in 2011, the biggest obstacle reported was reducing the overall time-to-hire. Checking each candidate’s information against state and federal databases can seem daunting when completed manually by human resources personnel.

However, with the right background screening solution in place, it is possible for employers to run multiple background checks on job candidates quickly. Upgrading to an electronic background screening solution has allowed many employers to centralize and automate several layers of screening in one quick and easy process.

4. Risk Management
In selecting and evaluating background screening programs, companies should balance the costs and benefits of its screening practices. An organization must determine the right amount of background screening that meets their hiring criteria and workplace safety standards, and that helps them to remain compliant with applicable regulations and hire the best talent.

If an organization’s costs and time increase as a result of adding several layers of extra screening, but the organization doesn’t realize any true benefit of risk mitigation, then it may want to streamline its program in the future.

5. Integration
How well do the components of a background screening program integrate with other software and systems? If human resources personnel are entering data into multiple locations, it may be time to upgrade to a better integrated electronic screening solution.

Lack of integration causes the screening process to take longer and it may also increase the chances for human error. If an organization is audited and does not have a uniform screening audit trail, this may negatively affect the outcome of the audit as well.

Constant changes in legislation, regulation and technology call for a proactive and agile approach to background screening. Background screening oversights can result in costly fines from regulators or damaging litigation or brand damage. By evaluating your employment screening program against these five key areas, you will be better prepared to meet the demands of screening as hiring improves.

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HireRight is a leading provider of on-demand employment background checks, drug and health screening, and electronic Form I-9 and E-Verify solutions that help employers automate, manage and control background screening and related programs.

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