HR's Background Check Process - 3 Scenarios

The way HR managers approach employee screening will differ for many reasons, including something we don't discuss much: the particular situation the HR manager finds himself or herself in.

For example, has a new company hired its first HR manager? Or is the HR manager walking into a company with a long and storied history? Or maybe the HR manager works for a parent organization that's acquiring another company.

Let's consider each situation, specifically what the HR manager should keep in mind from an employee screening perspective.

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1. You've been hired as the HR manager for a new company.

The success of this new company will rest on the people you hire.

No pressure, right?

In order to hire the best and brightest, you should focus on developing a modern screening program, one that's befitting of the technology and information available in 2019. A tall order, for sure, but here's the good news. Excellent third party vendors (like Good Egg!) already have innovative background check solutions that will provide you with smart insights so you can make better hiring decisions.

One caveat, though: not all background check vendors are created equal. Here's a quick overview of what you should be looking for:

  • Custom programs. A one-size-fits-all program might sound economical, but it will cost you in the long run. A vendor that can create a custom program based on your company's specific needs is the smart way to go.
  • Superior customer service. Read testimonials and case studies and pay attention to any points people make about stellar customer service. You want more than simply a vendor—you want a partner. Look for companies that take the time to learn about your industry and the hiring challenges you face as a new company.
  • PBSA accredited. The Professional Background Screening Association is the gold standard in the industry, and accreditation is rigorous. Only work with a provider who is PBSA accredited and whose entire staff is PBSA-certified.

In addition, you should keep the following in mind as you develop your employee screening program:

Social media screenings. Employee engagement is the number one thing that keeps HR managers up at night. And let's face it: Nothing can torpedo employee engagement quite like hiring a "bad egg." And that's where social media screenings come in.

A compliant social media screening is your best bet at catching problematic "bad egg" behaviors (like racist language, for example). Not to mention Millennials and Gen Z are dedicated social media users, so if you want to get actionable business insights about candidates from these populations, social media screenings are necessary. We'd even argue that social media screenings are as necessary as criminal background checks and even more necessary than education/employment verifications. And whatever you decide to do, make sure that employee screening is performed on a consistent basis and that all candidates for the same job type undergo the same background check.

Compliance. Compliance is also a hot-button issue for HR at every level—especially when it comes to the employee screening process itself. As a new HR manager at a new company, you have the opportunity to set up your program correctly and compliantly from the start. But compliance is a complex subject and not something to do solo. Use a vendor that has deep experience in compliance issues at the federal, state, and local level (and can demonstrate its expertise).

Drug testing. At this point so early in the game, it makes sense to consider a drug testing program as part of your pre-hire screening process. In addition to creating a safer and more productive workforce, it may help your company qualify for discounted workers comp premiums at the state level (an attractive option for new companies wanting to rein in costs).

2. You've been hired as the HR manager for an existing company.

Too often, HR managers end up inheriting poorly implemented background check programs that are woefully out of date. So your first step as a new HR manager at an existing company must be this: thoroughly audit the current screening program.

To that end, carefully review the following:

  • Compliance. Does the current screening process comply with federal, state, and local laws and regulations? Is there a clear and compliant adverse action process in place? How efficiently are disputes handled and how transparent is the dispute process? Non-compliance is one of the biggest risks the company faces, so you want to make sure you’ve got this covered.
  • Time-to-hire. Are you using innovation and automation like text messaging to kick off the screening process so you can get people screened and working for you faster? You should. (Psst: we're passionate about reducing our customers' time-to-hire. Check out this case study where we reduced it by 44%!)
  • Contemporary screens. How long ago was the program put in place? Is there an opportunity to modernize it by adding social media screens to the mix? Or is there a way to streamline, thanks to technology that allows you to manage ALL your screens from the same place? A contemporary screening strategy will help you hire better talent. Think beyond basic verifications, like employment, and focus more on information that will truly help you make better hires (such as the intel you'll glean from social media screenings).
  • Rescreening strategy. What's the rescreening protocol? If the company has only been conducting annual rescreens, does it make sense to consider ongoing monitoring instead (because rescreens and monitoring are not the same thing)?

3. Your company is acquiring another entity.

The process will be similar to when you're an HR manager inheriting an existing program. You'll want to review everything we outlined above, but you'll also want to consider this important point: if the acquired company does have a pre-hire screening program, have the background checks been adequate/compliant up until that point—or will you need to rescreen people?

Having to rescreen existing employees due to poorly conducted background checks could certainly have implications—for example, if a criminal record pops up for someone who had already "passed" the initial check, you'll need to have a plan for addressing that situation. A reputable third party like Good Egg can help you navigate these murky waters. Bottom line: don't forgo this step simply because it might be a little messy or complicated.

After you conduct your initial audit, you'll need to develop a screening strategy for moving forward. Strive to create a streamlined program that covers ALL needs, including any new ones that might have come up thanks to the merger or acquisition, such as new job types. For example, maybe the company acquired a manufacturing plant. In that case, random drug testing makes sense since workers might be using dangerous equipment. You get the idea.

And speaking of drug testing, that's another area to review from a company-wide perspective. What has the drug testing policy been for each organization to date? What will it be now for this combined entity? Remember, drug testing is regulated at the state level. So if the company that's been acquired operates in a different state from the parent company, you will need to keep that in mind as you develop drug testing programs—the protocols and policy language might need to be different, based on which state(s) the program is operated in.

In summary, an HR manager's best bet—no matter the scenario—is to work with a reputable vendor like Good Egg. We have experience across many different industries and compliance expertise to ensure your program is not only effective, but also legal. Let's chat about your company's specific needs.

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Stephanie Haft

Posted by Stephanie Haft

Stephanie is the Marketing Manager at Good Egg, and avid quoter of Mel Brooks movies.

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