Adapting to the New Normal – Developing Trends in Employment Screening
Entering 2020, most organizations had optimistic expectations. Secure in an economic stable environment, HR professionals prepared for business as usual. Most organizational risk was widely known with processes in place to address it. Little did we know in the span of less than six months we would be hit with a global pandemic, rioting and civil unrest, and ever-growing cultural awareness in our country that would dramatically change the how we onboard, develop and manage human resources forever. We quickly realized as we came to terms with our “new normal”, many of our traditional recruitment and onboarding practices no longer fit organizational demands and the need for alternative solutions is urgent. As we enter the final quarter of 2020, countless organizations are reevaluating their current HR practices, including their employment screening and risk mitigation programs. As a result, the demand to find innovative solutions to emerging challenges has never been greater, driving new trends in background and drug screening.
Remote Work & Civil Unrest
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to 26% of United States employees working entirely remotely from home. Several recent studies including a Reuters report indicate an anticipated 3 of the American workforce will continue to work from home at the end of 2021. At the onset of the shutdowns, sending staff home to telecommute created an initial set of challenges in ensuring equipment and communication needs were meet. However, as the pandemic looms on and many temporary remote positions become permanent, human resource leaders are identifying gaps in their current recruiting, onboarding and management practices, resulting in high demand for innovative products and services to fill the voids. These services include remote Form I-9 and E-Verify services and non-contact substance abuse testing.
As the spring consumed with meeting new workforce demands transitioned into a summer of civil unrest and growing social division, human resource professionals found themselves scrambling again to meet a new set of organizational concerns. With less physical oversight of staff, employers face new risks. Adjustments in criminal justice and policing practices have led to more arrests with offenders booked and immediately released. Increasingly unfiltered social media behavior and cancel culture actions are also rapidly growing brand protection threats. As we enter the fall and the dust begins to settle, many employers are investigating new options for monitoring employee behavior to ensure it aligns with corporate culture and does not pose unreasonable risk. The increased need to monitor worker actions is creating new demand for continuous criminal monitoring and social media screening services.
New Solutions to Evolving Needs
2020 has become a pivotal year in employment screening. Many product and service options that were in their infancy as the year began are now experiencing swift implementation by businesses from Wall Street to Main Street. As adoption grows, increased value, ease of use and efficiency are also rapidly evolving. Continuous criminal monitoring used to consist of periodic checks of proprietary national criminal databases. Today’s products offer the ability to capture arrest records as they occur and monitor changes in court adjudication processes. Artificial intelligence and other technology-driven advancements in social media screening enable researchers to rapidly comb through hundreds and thousands of posts and other online content to locate and flag commentary that may contain racially-biased speech, indications of substance abuse, history of sexual harassment and criminal or other derogatory behavior which may pose a direct risk to an employer or their workforce.
As more companies adopt permanent remote work options, there is a rapidly growing demand for a fully distanced and electronic onboarding resources. The U.S. Department of Immigration and Naturalization recently provided an emergency provision allowing employers to delay completion of section 2 of the Form I-9 until November 18, 2020 or within the first 3 days of the termination of national emergency, whichever occurs first. However, many employers concerned with creating a large backlog or now managing a more permanently remote workforce are looking at new options for completing the Form I-9 process. These options include utilizing electronic Form I-9 and E-Verify platforms which have the added benefit of minimizing costly errors and engaging mobile Form I-9 verifiers to manage the physical identification inspection requirements. Additionally, social distancing and desire to reduce potential exposure to individuals infected with COVID-19 has increased demand for substance abuse testing options that do not include lab-based specimen collections. Recent advances in oral fluid testing options allow donors to completely execute the specimen collection process and observers to simple scan the bar code on the side of the set to collect and document the result.
With COVID-19 cases rising and the United States continuing to experience great social division, we are likely only seeing the cusp of new innovations to meet growing business necessity. As we move into 2021, many employers will face unprecedented need for change to ensure business continuity and brand protection. Employment screening experts like AccuSource will continue to innovate and develop new product and services option to expanding demand.