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Communicating the Importance of Continuous Background Checks

Date Published: June 14, 2024 | Last Updated: June 18, 2024 | By Suraiya Sarwar

Background checks have become a common part of the talent acquisition process, with an estimated 96.1% of employers conducting these checks, according to SHRM. It is an obvious and well-advised risk management strategy. After all, most job candidates are “unknown commodities,” and employers want to ensure that they’re making a choice that won’t come back to bite them in terms of poor performance or potential damage to the company or brand.

But this standard process has traditionally failed to account for one troubling potential —even the most stellar applicant may develop some “red flags” after they’re on board!

The Emergence of Continuous Background Checks

That’s where continuous background checks can come into play. Continuous background checks involve ongoing monitoring to ensure employees comply with company policies and legal requirements throughout their tenure. Employers receive updates about employees’ criminal records, driving records, and other relevant information as soon as they’re recorded in databases. This can be particularly important in industries or roles where employees have access to sensitive information and financial assets or are simply in positions of trust.

Continuous monitoring provides the benefits of immediate identification of issues, protection against various risks, and ensuring the safety and compliance of employees as they interact with colleagues, customers, and others.

In contrast, post-hire background checks take place after hire, at specific intervals—perhaps once a year. Post-hire background checks have been growing in use in recent years. The Professional Background Screening Association indicates that 19% of organizations conducted post-hire background checks — an increase from 12% in 2020. Post-hire background checks can directly prevent workplace incidents like this from occurring – mitigating risk and reducing the chance of harm to employees.

But the use of continuous background checks is still not mainstream, which means that it’s a practice that can create uncertainty and angst among employees and managers. It’s important to be thoughtful about introducing and communicating the process to minimize concerns and to arm managers with the information they need to respond to employee questions.

Here, we look at what people managers need to know about the continuous background check process and some best practices for communicating with them effectively.

What People Managers Need to Know

People managers are caught between senior leaders and their employees, often needing to balance the demands and needs of both. When companies institute continuous background checks, managers know they can’t opt out of the process, but they also know they’re likely to face questions from employees — both new hires and those who have been on board for a while. That can be a difficult position, especially if they’re not entirely sure — or comfortable with — the process.

Some of the common questions they’re likely to have include:

  • What is continuous background screening?
  • Why is continuous background screening important?
  • How does continuous background screening work?
  • How is continuous background screening different from post-hire screening?
  • What kind of information will you monitor?
  • How does continuous background screening impact employee privacy?
  • What happens if an employee fails a continuous background check?
  • What if an employee wants to dispute a finding? How can they do that?

These questions are similar, if not the same, as the questions employees will have. Providing the answers for both groups will help to inform and engage everyone in the process. That requires transparent, open, and ongoing communication that should take place through a number of channels.

Best Practices for Effective Communication

The foundation of communication about continuous background screening is your background screening policy. Brush it off and ensure it’s up to date before incorporating additional elements specific to the continuous background screening process. Have legal counsel review the policy to ensure it complies with relevant laws and regulations.

Introduce the new process to employees, starting with managers and supervisors, who will likely face questions from their direct reports. Emphasize the why behind the process and the positive impacts for the organization, its employees, and customers.

Anticipate and respond to the tough questions employees will have about the kind of information that you’ll seek, how you’ll use it, privacy implications, how employees can respond if they disagree with the information gathered, how negative information could impact their employment, etc. An important part of this process should be a well-communicated dispute resolution procedure and a commitment to the fair and consistent application of the continuous screening process.

Incorporate information about the continuous background screening into the hiring process, onboarding, annual in-service training. Make information easily accessible and available on demand through digital channels in the form of FAQs and other background information. Let managers and employees know how they will be informed of any incidents that come to light and the process for responding.

This should be an iterative process that is continually reviewed, monitored, and adjusted to take into account any changes to the policy, laws and regulations, and input or questions received from employees. Ensuring ongoing and open dialogue and transparency can help to minimize concerns that employees—and managers—may have.

And there’s one final question to consider that hiring managers—and HR leaders—are likely to have when it comes to continuous background checks: “How do we select the right background screening provider?”

That’s where we come in. Accurate can handle both your traditional and your continuous background screening needs efficiently, in compliance with constantly changing state and federal laws, and in a manner that provides a positive experience for both applicants and employees. Learn more.