In most industries, risk management is an ongoing and continuous process. Venture capital firms, for example, would not make the mistake of only analyzing a start-up’s viability once before investing and never again. Organizations partnering with strategic suppliers subject vendors to ongoing due diligence to protect supply chains and business continuity.
Why, then, do so many employers conduct background screening only once during the hiring process and never again?
Employment risks are ongoing; background screening should be, too
It can be useful to split background checks into two categories:
- Factors with limited potential for change, and
- Factors with the potential to change and put your business at risk.
The first category includes constants, such as an employee’s education and employment history. Most organizations engage an employee screening service to confirm these during the hiring process through methods such as sighting original documents or speaking with the candidate’s former employers. These factors most likely will not change (although an employee could potentially add to their education credentials), and only need to be checked once.
But the second category is different. These are factors that could change at any time, even if nothing was flagged in the initial screening process. Examples include criminal and arrest record, driving history, and credit status.
Let’s imagine three scenarios where a failure to conduct continuous background screening (also known as continuous monitoring) puts an organization at risk.
* These scenarios are for illustrative purposes only. Any resemblance to reality is purely coincidental.
Scenario one: The criminal record
In this scenario, an IT company hires a promising young programmer named George. As per good practice, the company performs its due diligence and conducts a series of background screening checks before offering George the job, including screening for criminal and arrest records. George has no criminal history whatsoever and is offered the job.
Five years later, George begins to change. Even though he continues to perform well at the office, he develops a violent temper which culminates in a road-rage altercation. George is charged with assault, receives a suspended sentence, and now has a criminal record. He keeps this a secret from his employer.
Over time George’s ability to manage his temper deteriorates noticeably in the office environment, until one day (several months after being charged with assault) George attacks a co-worker during a heated argument, leaving her with a broken wrist.
As a result, the injured worker sues the organization for failing to keep her safe, the company’s reputation as a good employer suffers, and George, of course, is fired. But this situation might have been avoided if the company had been alerted to George’s original criminal conviction and taken immediate action to protect the rest of the team from the threat of violence.
Scenario two: The driving history
The PR department at a national logistics provider goes into damage control when one of the company’s trucks – emblazoned with the company logo – is involved in a multi-car crash. Thankfully, no one is hurt, but it is soon revealed that the driver (Debra) was intoxicated and most likely caused the accident.
The company checks Debra’s original employment records to confirm that she had a clear record with a flawless driving history stretching back seven years before she took the job. Unfortunately, a local journalist goes a step further by conducting DMV searches across several states to reveal that Debra’s driving record had taken a turn for the worse since she was employed. An article is published accusing the logistics company of employing a driver with multiple DUIs and other violations.
The resulting auto claim and damage to the company’s reputation might have been avoided with continuous monitoring of motor vehicle records with automatic alerts for DUIs, suspensions, revocations, and violations.
Scenario three: The credit history
Credit checks can be common for positions with fiduciary duties, such as accounting or financial record-keeping.
In this scenario, one such role is held by Rashid, a procurement specialist. As part of the hiring process, Rashid’s employers carry out a full-scope credit check. The search reveals no red flags, and Rashid is hired.
Sadly, Rashid develops a gambling addiction over time. His mounting debts cause his credit score to plummet, and he becomes desperate. Keeping the problem a secret from his family and employer, he looks for a solution and finds one: he subverts the procurement process in a kickback (bribery) scheme with a supplier where he receives an illicit payment every time the supplier is contracted.
Rashid, of course, is caught, fired, and the police are informed of the kickback scheme. The company suffers reputational and financial damage, which could have been avoided if they were alerted to Rashid’s financial problems through ongoing credit checks.
Scenario four: Sexual assault
Sexual abuse crimes are particularly heinous and often go unreported. Even when they are reported, disparate systems make it difficult for justice to prevail. Here’s a scenario in which continuous monitoring might make a difference:
Kevin is a registered nurse in the cancer ward of a prominent children’s hospital. He’s known for his playful behavior and his love of children. On his days off, he even helps in his wife’s home daycare, which is located an hour away from the hospital in a neighboring county. However, unbeknownst to hospital leadership, Kevin was recently convicted of assaulting one of his wife’s customers.
Had Kevin’s hospital conducted continuous monitoring, the arrest and conviction may have been flagged and the hospital could have taken proper steps to protect its patients.
Consent and data security
Organizations can better protect themselves and mitigate risk through continuous background screening, but it needs to be conducted legally. Much like the candidate background screening process, ongoing screening of current employees can only be undertaken with their consent, and associated data needs to be stored safely and in a compliant manner. Employers should consult with their legal counsel regarding any changes or addition to the background screening program.
Contact Accurate to find out more about our continuous background screening services or watch our webinar, “Two Tricky Background Screening Topics: Continuous Monitoring & Arrests vs. Convictions“