The pandemic has plunged everyone into uncertainty, small businesses in particular. Many are looking for ways to save money by cutting expenses.
While it might sound self-serving for us to say "don't cut back on your background check orders," remember that we're a small business, too. We’re feeling the squeeze as well, so we get why it's tempting.
That said, here are five reasons why small business background checks are still essential.
1. The labor market just got a whole lot more competitive.
For the last several years, the labor market has been a dream for job seekers: so many employment opportunities, not enough people. Due to the resulting chaos from COVID-19, however, the reverse is sadly true. Over 30 million unemployment claims were made between mid-March and the end of April, causing the job market to dramatically shift, seemingly overnight.
Yes, employers suddenly have more candidates to choose from, which some might consider a good problem to have. But this scenario also presents its own hiring challenges. As job seekers spruce up their resumes, some will take certain liberties with the "facts," like employment dates, job titles, and even licensures. Lying on resumes isn’t new, of course, but we expect to see an increase in fibs and fabrications over the next 12-18 months, given how competitive it’s going to be to land a new position.
Employers need to ask themselves this: If a job candidate is willing to lie on their resume, what might they lie about while employed? Keep in mind that some lies can have costly or even deadly consequences. Just ask Walgreens about the multi-million-dollar fine it received because it employed an unlicensed pharmacist for over a decade.
Bottom line: Employers have always needed an effective method for verifying important employment and education details, but this task is even more essential now, given how many people will be applying to the same jobs. A background check provides a budget-friendly way to verify this critical info.
2. You can't afford to make a bad hire.
There's never a good time for a small business to make a bad hire, but even more so right now. Hiring freezes will come to an end at some point, which means when you’re hiring again, the pressure will be on to hire well right out of the gate.
Remember, a bad hire can cost businesses thousands of dollars. Consider all the money associated with recruitment, training/onboarding, lost productivity, and—worst-case scenario—legal expenses due to negligent hiring lawsuits.
Luckily, it’s easier than ever to hire well right out of the gate, provided you continue investing in a smart employee screening strategy.
Types of background checks small businesses should consider, even during COVID-19:
- Verifications. As noted earlier, education/employment/license verifications are a must. Confirm the person is being truthful from the start.
- Criminal background checks. A criminal background check will provide valuable insights into a person’s past. For example, someone who spent time in jail three years ago for credit card theft might not be the person you want handling customer credit cards or other sensitive financial info.
- Social media background checks. Let’s say the person you’re considering has a history of sharing offensive or intolerant content on Twitter. That same person could present a vastly different “picture” during an in-person interview or on a resume. If you neglected to run a compliant social media check and you hired the person, well . . . you can imagine all the different scenarios that might play out (none of them good). In fact, we’d argue that social media screening in the age of COVID might be one of the most important pre-employment background checks a small business can run.
So the next time you wonder “are background checks for small businesses necessary?”—the answer is a resounding YES.
3. You’re still responsible for maintaining a safe workforce (and boosting employee morale wouldn’t hurt, either).
Employees often look to their employers for creating positive environments during challenging times. As an employer, you already have a responsibility to create a safe, non-toxic workplace for your employees, regardless what’s happening in the world, like a pandemic.
Right now, employee morale is down (understandably) in most workplaces, given the circumstances and all the uncertainty. The need for nurturing and supportive workspaces—even virtual ones—has never been greater.
Pre-employment background checks and ongoing monitoring can be excellent ways to make sure you’re building and maintaining this sort of workplace—one that can survive and even thrive during a pandemic.
4. You might not have a choice.
Depending on the industry, your small business might still be legally required to run certain background checks, despite COVID and all its chaos. (Think DOT-regulated businesses, as one example.)
And even if your business is part of a regulated industry that has relaxed certain requirements or provided more leeway/wiggle room due to the pandemic (for example, see the DOT’s notice about drug testing), this is only temporary. Don’t become lax! Taking advantage of any relaxed regulations will only make it that much harder to get back into the swing of things, which brings us to our next point.
5. You’ll have an easier time scaling up as the country reopens.
The good news? If you keep your small business background check program intact, it will be much easier to scale up quickly as the country reopens.
Using our DOT-regulated business example: Even if the business had to furlough some of its workforce due to the pandemic, if it maintains driver files, keeps furloughed drivers in random drug and alcohol testing pools, and uses MVR monitoring on furloughed drivers, it will be that much easier to recall those employees and scale up the business once things return to normal.