Many employers are implementing continuous background screening processes, and for good reason. Just because an employee has no troubling background issues when first hired, doesn’t mean issues won’t crop up in the future. Organizations need to protect their business interests, their employees, their customers, and their communities. Continuous background screening can help to do this.
But communicating with employees — upon hire and throughout their tenure — is important to ensure that they understand why this is being done, how it might affect them, how the information is used, etc.
Here we look at some best practices for successfully instituting a continuous background screening process that employees will understand.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Continuous Background Screening
Alan Saquella is a security and intelligence studies professor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in the College of Business, Security and Intelligence, where he teaches white-collar crime, security investigations, and interview techniques and tactics. He points to both advantages and disadvantages that come with continuous background screening. The advantages, he says, include enhanced security, risk mitigation, compliance with industry regulations, and protection of reputation. Disadvantages, though, can include employee perceptions related to invasion of privacy, false positives that could occur, administrative burdens, retention challenges, and legal risks related to jurisdictions with specific regulations regarding the frequency and scope of background checks.
Employers can strike a balance here, though, he says, by considering industry requirements, the nature of the job, and company values. “It is crucial to implement policies and procedures that respect employee privacy and maintain transparency to mitigate any negative impacts.”
Implementing and managing continuous background checks can be resource intensive, Saquella acknowledges. “It requires establishing effective systems for data collection, analysis, and interpretation. This process can be time-consuming and costly, particularly for organizations with a large workforce,” he says.
But, despite the effort—or, perhaps, because of it, employers can benefit.
“Proactively monitoring employees’ backgrounds helps organizations maintain their reputation and brand image,” Saquella states. “Continuous checks ensure that employees align with the company’s values and standards, reducing the risk of reputational damage due to misconduct.”
Making it Work
Teresha Aird is the CMO and HR lead at Offices.net, an online B2B commercial property brokerage. At Offices.net, she says, “Continuous background screening is part of our proactive approach to safeguarding our culture and values.” Offices.net, says Aird, doesn’t consider continuous background screening to be an “intrusive surveillance tool,” but as a “means to ensure a safe working environment.”
Communication and transparency are key, Aird reveals, to avoid misunderstandings while fostering trust.
“When hiring, we openly discuss the necessity for ongoing background checks, emphasizing the mutual benefits—ensuring a safe work environment and protecting our and our employees’ reputations as well,” Aird asserts.
It’s important for employees to understand how the background checking process will work, how often it will be done, the type of information being gathered, and how that information will be used. Importantly, employees should have the opportunity to see and review information gathered about them—and to dispute information they feel is inaccurate.
“It’s a mistake to use this information to unfairly penalize employees without considering context and giving them an opportunity to explain,” Aird says. She shares an example of an instance where an employee’s background check showed a DUE that had occurred a few years after they came on board. “We had a conversation with the individual It turned out that they were already seeking help for their issue, which allowed u to support them through it,” she says.
Open communication, Aird states, “can turn a potential crisis into a positive interaction, demonstrating the value of transparency.”
Communication Best Practices
Anjie Mangrum, founder and president of Mangrum Career Solutions and a Certified Personnel Consultant, agrees that transparency and open communication are key to addressing employee concerns about continuous background screening after hire. She offers the following suggestions for doing this effectively:
- Clearly communicate the reasons for continuous background screening and how it benefits both the company and the employees. “I’ve found employees are generally more cooperative when they know how this initiative can enhance their safety by potentially identifying troublemakers that could pose a risk to the entire team,” Mangrum stresses.
- Provide employees with a clear understanding of what information is being collected and how it will be used. “Workers are likelier to consent to continuous background checks when they understand it’s not a violation of their privacy but rather a screening for illegal or troublesome behavior that might affect the company and its workforce.”
- Establish a clear process for addressing employees’ concerns or questions about the screening process. “If you want to bring your employees on the same page regarding continuous background checks, equip your HR department with the right way to respond to their queries and set up a channel for welcoming and addressing concerns,” Mangrum recommends. “You can also welcome feedback and suggestions on improving your screening process. Your staff members are likelier to cooperate when they feel heard.”
- Be mindful of FCRA requirements. “I especially find it essential that employers note that they’re not only legally required to gain employee consent for background checks, but they must also provide the employee a chance to review their findings and provide an explanation before taking any action against them,” Mangrum says.
Aird also stresses that communication is key. “By maintaining a clear, respectful dialogue, we have observed that employees appreciate the rationale behind continuous screening, considering it as part of the organization’s due diligence,” she says.
Continuous background screening is an important tool for employers to ensure the safety of employees, customers, clients, and others. Learn more about how a continuous background screening program could work for you.