Meghan Biro is the founder of TalentCulture and the creator/host of the weekly #WorkTrends Twitter chat and podcast. She is recognized around the globe for her accomplishments as an author, speaker, and brand strategist. Meghan’s thought leadership in HR technology, social strategy, and the future of work has helped hundreds of companies—from early-stage ventures to major brands—successfully recruit and empower stellar talent.
The pursuit of new markets is part of many a company’s long-term growth strategy, as is global expansion. From small businesses to enterprise firms, the key should involve people. Companies need to be able to create a viable strategy for hiring, managing and keeping people — wherever they expand to. But that’s not a simple task. Numerous challenges to hiring employees include local employment laws and regulations, differing cultures and expectations, and of course, different languages. When it comes to background screening, it turns out that not very many companies are prepared to meet the challenges of global hiring. And that can mean a critical gap – in time to hire, in number of successful hires, and in getting a new global location up and running.
What’s the answer? Global background screening platforms that help companies put all the pieces together in one integrated system. It’s a vital part of a coherent and effective HR strategy. But HireRight’s Employment Screening Benchmark Survey for 2018 found out that background checks are not being used nearly enough for either global employees based in the U.S. or employees based outside the U.S. This is a survey of more than 6,000 human resources professionals. The results are telling:
- Only 16% of respondents said they verify international backgrounds of U.S.-based employees
- 15% said they screen employees based outside of the United States — a 2% increase since last year, yet still 4% fewer than 2016.
Despite global expansion and an extremely tight jobs market, we’re doing less to screen employees outside the U.S. than before. Few organizations have developed a formal global screening policy, yet 66% of those HR professionals said they struggle with finding qualified candidates, and 55% with employee turnover. We know that background checks enable companies to make better hires. The survey found that 84% of employers, global or not, benefit substantially from background checks.
But there’s more to it than that, particularly in the context of global hiring. Too many companies expand without a game plan in place on background screening — and no matter where they are, candidate expectations include being able to apply and communicate via social media and mobile, not having their applications stuck in neutral over stalled paperwork, and finally, that if one employer proves to have problematic screening processes, there will no doubt be another employer who offers a far better experience. And we know that experience is a key driver not just of candidate experience, but of employee engagement once hired.
So here are three essential elements to look for when tackling background screening for your global hiring:
From a managerial perspective, it’s imperative to have a way to handle the increasing complexity of global background checks. One extremely effective strategy to do it is to partner with a highly capable background screening firm. There are a number of advantages to doing this. But one key factor is that global expansion often creates not only administrative redundancy but a whole range of unintended gaps and inconsistencies, depending on the location. When a corporation can partner with an outside provider and integrate a background screening platform into existing functions, that provider should also have the expertise with regards to its data handling requirements in a range of different global locations, yet be able to bring all functions into a universal user-experience. Consistency across the board, no matter whether it’s in Kansas or Hong Kong or Madrid, may save some potential litigation headaches later.
Laws and regulations are markedly different depending on where you’re hiring. Ambitious companies need and deserve to be able to hire a global workforce and answer to local compliance and regulatory changes — a screening program that can also be tailored to answer to the unique laws, cultures and languages of any location is vital. But so is a program that can change and scale as the company changes, offering the same results and increased quality of hire, safety and security, regulatory compliance, and better employee retention no matter the scenario.
Each company has different preferences as to the way it wants background screening conducted and delivered, and certainly different policies around the how, why, and what of background screening. But a fractured approach, which reaches back towards the old, paper-heavy ways of the past to cover global needs, won’t work. Companies need increasingly efficient tools to function in this intensely competitive job market — where complexity has really multiplied due to both global expansion and sourcing international talent. One single platform that can handle the company’s needs, adapt to changing laws and regulations, deliver accurate screening, and deliver usable, meaningful data on the entire process is the answer.
These three C’s should be essential qualities in your chosen background screening platform. Look for a suite of powerful functions, able to do the heavy lifting for you: reach out into databases, public media, and source local criminal records as available in well over a hundred countries to provide the employer with clear answers as quickly as possible. Global coverage isn’t about being spread thin and having to resort to redundant tools to cover all your bases. It’s about meeting all your needs efficiently — managing costs while delivering accuracy, so you can make great hires, offer a smooth and fluid candidate experience no matter the language or location or culture, and feel secure that when it comes to global background screening, you’ve got it covered.