The Background Process – Article 2: Is it Really Necessary?

What are the differences between a Background Check, Background
Screening, and Background Investigation?

This is the second article in a series which examines the Background Process and its use in the selection and hiring of employees, vetting tenants, volunteers, and vendors, and addressing other entities an organization engages with for a business purpose. Key to the background process is that it serves to obtain information from which business leaders and employers can make informed decisions in the best interests of their organization.

This article looks at the next question: Is it really necessary to conduct Background Screening?

Whether to Conduct Background Screening: Why it’s important to implement a systematic Background Process

Hiring a new employee, acquiring a new tenant, or engaging a volunteer, vendor, or another entity to address a business need, presents a potential risk. Since employees will potentially be entrusted with sensitive technical or business information and relied on for organizational success, there is a risk these employees may betray that trust or impede or not positively contribute to an organization’s overall success. An employer and organization are at risk due to potential legal liability for the harm an employee may cause to others, specifically other employees, customers, or the public. An employee’s negative conduct and behavior either at work, during their off hours, or on-line, is a risk and may result in damage to a business’ profitability, image, culture, or reputation.

Over the last decade the increase in employers and organizations requiring and conducting some form of background screening for new employees now makes it the norm and accepted community standard. The most recent data compiled by the Professional Background Screeners Association (PBSA) indicates as of 2020, approximately 94% of businesses conduct some form of background screening, with 73% having a documented background screening policy. The same PBSA data indicates the top three reasons for conducting background screening are:

1) Protecting the safety of employees and customers (83%);
2) Improving the quality of hires (51%); and,
3) Mandated by laws/regulations (40%)

The same PBSA study indicates 90% of employers currently conduct background screening on all full-time individuals, an increase of four percent from two years ago, and 83% conduct background screening of all part-time employees, an increase of 15% from two years ago. Two years ago, employers conducted background screening of all contingent, contractors, and temporary staff. That percentage is now 59%. This data reveals a substantial increase in employer and organization awareness of the potential risk involved in selecting and hiring new employees, as well as employers and organizations realizing background screening is the best and primary tool to mitigate this specific risk.

Conducting some form of background screening is now the community standard. However, some employers still do not conduct background screening or are inconsistent in their approach. The determination to conduct and justify background screening is best made on assessing the potential risk that could result if the ‘wrong’ person or entity is selected or hired for a position, in concert with an assessment of how significant the duties and responsibilities of the position are to organization success. While background screening should be conducted in all instances of employee selection and hiring, if that cannot be the case, the general rule is the more significant the duties and responsibilities of the position are to the overall success of the organization or employer, the more justification exists for background screening to be conducted and the affirmative responsibility to do so.

To justify conducting background screening for a specific position, supporting enhancement to an existing background screening process, or to determine the type of background screening to conduct for specific positions, an employer needs to ask and answer the following questions:

  • Are the duties and responsibilities of the position pivotal to the financial success of the business or employer?
  • Do the duties and responsibilities of the position require interaction with the public, specifically children, persons of minor age, or the elderly?
  • Do the duties and responsibilities of the position require the supervision, management, or oversight of other employees?
  • Do the duties and responsibilities of the position require the use of weapons, machinery, or tools which require advanced training, certification, licensing, or education?
  • Do the duties and responsibilities of the position result in the employee being in a position representing the business or employer to the public?
  • Do the duties and responsibilities of the position result in a fiduciary duty on behalf of the employee?
  • Do the duties and responsibilities of the position require the employee to be entrusted with or have access to specific business knowledge or systems which if shared or corrupted, would negatively impact the business or employer?

If any of these questions are answered in the affirmative, a background screening must be conducted. These same questions will be relevant later on in determining the type and scope of the background screening to be developed and implemented.

Whether an organization, employer, or recruiter conducts background screening for every position, as a matter of policy, or whether after consideration of the above questions a determination is made to conduct background screening for a specific position, the next question that needs to be addressed is what type of background screening is to be conducted? The next article in this series will examine the different types of background screening, their differences, and when each should be employed: Background Check or Background Investigation? – The Differences and Criteria to Determine Which to Use.

Big and small businesses alike recognize the value of doing background screenings, and The Aggeris Group maintains the ability to do full Background Investigations, Internal Investigations, and Insider Threats  on all of your prospective employees and/or partners.
Kevin James Kline, COO
The Aggeris Group