Four Essential Background Screening Metrics

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You can’t manage what you can’t measure. It’s an old management saying that may hold even more value in today’s hectic “do more with less” workplace. In order to stretch your resources farther, you must eliminate any procedures that duplicate efforts or cause breakdown in the intended system.

By tracking and analyzing various trends in your background screening program, you’ll know more and be able to identify existing problem areas that are worth addressing. Once addressed, you’ll be on your way to measured success and marked improvement in your safe hiring processes across the company.

At face value, the components of employment screening seem relatively straightforward: perform the background check and drug test according to company standards, review the report findings, then make the final hiring decision.

But for human resources and security professionals, employment screening can also encompass some important metrics used to improve recruiting and hiring processes, enforce screening policy compliance and ensure a safer and more productive work environment.

By developing and employing the following four basic HR metrics for your screening program, you’ll be able to realize a positive impact on your overall recruiting and hiring processes and get the most from your screening efforts:

  • Cost… whether you perform all or part of the screening process in-house or you outsource the job completely, it is important to track how much the company is spending on screening. By generating a per-hire screening cost (by region, by job type, by department, etc.) you can more accurately budget for next year and forecast for future head count. Additionally, by calculating your cost per “hit” (adverse record found), you can identify the amount spent to learn about negative information which helps you justify the spending on your screening program.

In addition, metrics can be established to show how much is spent on the screening itself and how much is spent on third-party fees or government surcharges. When these reports are rolled up annually or tracked quarterly, they can be used to explain new-hire costs and justify the cost of your overall screening program.

  • Quality… an elusive benchmark to measure. But with pre-employment screening, the quality of a candidate can systematically be measured in the number of applicants that are not hired due to a “hit” or adverse record uncovered by the background check. By tracking how many screening reports come back with “hits” and specifically tracking if the adverse records follow any patterns (e.g., excessive motor vehicle violations, more positive drug records) you can use the information to understand the caliber of applicant seeking a job at your company and adjust recruiting efforts to compensate.

For example, if your report analysis shows a trend towards more applicants with “hits” for false education credentials, your recruiters may be able to find new/better applicant sources and/or adjust their pre-employment screening interviews to probe more deeply into a candidate’s education history.

  • Time… the most precious commodity in the hiring process is time. Time is ticking for the hiring manager who needs the job filled now. Time is essential to the candidate who may be between jobs, in need of steady income and have other offers on the table. You can not afford to keep either of them waiting.

Most likely you are already tracking “time-to-hire” metrics from the moment a job requisition is opened until the day the candidate starts. As a sub-set to this metric, you should also track the specific screening turnaround time broken down by the components of your screening process. This will help you more accurately forecast “time-to-hire” standards and make adjustments to reduce any time lapses in the screening process.

For example, if the time it takes to receive the drug screening results back from the lab after the applicant performs the drug screening is impacting your “time-to-hire” numbers substantially, you can make a business case to streamline this process: deploy an “electronic chain of custody” form in lieu of the standard paper form or implement an instant on-site drug testing program where the drug test can be performed instantly at the company’s human resources offices.

In addition, by understanding each component that impacts your screening turnaround time, you can more accurately provide a decision timeframe to the candidate and set expectations in advance to avoid losing him/her to another position.

  • Uniform Policy Adherence… along with reporting on the specifics of your screening program and recruiting efforts, screening metrics can also be used to garner insight into policy adherence at individual cost centers or business units. By comparing screening metrics company-wide, you’ll be able to uncover aggregate patterns and inconsistencies which could lead you to develop policy or process improvements.

For example, if your New York and Florida offices have roughly the same number of annual hires, but reports show that Florida is spending far more on screening than New York, you can use your screening metrics to analyze whether the Florida office is recruiting more “sub-par” applicants that ultimately don’t pass the background check or the New York office is just not screening all the applicants it ultimately hires or one of the offices is simply performing background checks in a manner inconsistent with your screening policy. With this knowledge, you can probe deeper into the hiring and recruiting practices of your company’s branch offices and ensure policies are compliant company-wide.

And don’t forget to “Close the Loop” on your background screening metrics. In order to impact your future recruiting and screening practices you must not only measure the historical trends of your programs, but also review these measurements regularly and act on them appropriately.

If you are using an automated applicant tracking system, and especially if you are using HireRight’s automated management reports, generating and tracking the above metrics is simple and should become part of your on-going data capture procedures.

No matter how your company conducts its screening program, capturing and analyzing screening metrics can provide valuable insight into current processes and drive recruiting and hiring procedures improvements that ultimately help your organization achieve its overall strategic goals.

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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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