Risk is inherent to any hiring process, but potential liabilities can balloon if there is no standardised approach to screening potential employees. For modern organisations, deploying a standardised framework can reap great benefits – but it must be implemented in a professional manner.
What can a ‘standardised approach’ to screening deliver to your organisation?
The most common benefit of a standardised screening approach is its ability to reduce an organisation’s risk – lower risk leads to reduced expenses, improved staff wellbeing, increased retention rates, a more trusting workplace culture and more.
“Employment screening is all about dealing with risks the organisation will face,” Sharp says. “By stepping it out in a standardised approach, you’re identifying and addressing those risks so you can minimise or mitigate them in a consistent, measured and effective way.”
So what are some practical ways you can communicate – and eventually deploy – this standardised approach for the betterment of your business and employees?
Formalise a framework
This doesn’t mean you need a formal, densely worded policy document that will live in the HR department. Instead, a standardised approach could simply be made up of various consistent processes.
“Being a lawyer, I’ll always recommend something be written down,” Sharp says. “It just helps ensure that nothing gets forgotten along the way.
“But if the organisation is small enough that the recruitment decisions are resting in one or two hands, then as long as those people are consistent about it, there’s no reason why it needs to be written down.”
The key here is defining what has been done in the past, and how hiring and screening decisions have been made. The easiest – and most common – next step is to describe those past actions in writing, so anyone in the company can refer to them for precedent. Alternatively, nominate someone within the organisation to act as the point of contact – typically someone in HR – for any questions about best practice. After that, it’s about making future decision-making consistent within that defined framework.
Make your intentions public
You don’t need to sing it from the rooftops, but Sharp says it’s good practice to alert your candidate to the fact that those mandatory checks will be conducted.
“Even if it’s not in the job ad, you need to explain that screening is part of the recruitment process when you’re collecting CVs and arranging interviews,” Sharp explains.
“Screening is increasingly common in the marketplace, and it’s very rare for candidates to be surprised that there is a process at all. Sometimes they are surprised at particular elements of the process, but if you have a clear understanding of the hiring risks you’ve identified, and why you wish to screen for those risks in this particular role, then that’s easily explained.
“If there are any questions, these can be answered by the HR manager, or whoever is in charge of recruitment.”
Inform existing staff about the new policy
Transparency is crucial when informing candidates about background checks, but it’s arguably even more important to communicate any new policies to your existing staff first. This will help build trust between employees and employer, and encourage better communication across all levels of the company.
“The implementation varies from organisation to organisation depending on their size, the number of employees, the market or industry in which they’re operating,” Sharp says.
“But it’s simply a case of making sure that the benefits and reasons behind the decision (to standardise screening) are articulated to the employees in such a way that it gives them an opportunity to ask any questions. Then the process can be rolled out as seamlessly as possible.”
Create a trusting culture
Every company has a different culture, and that culture evolves as people come and go from the business. But with complete transparency around ongoing checks and new policies, the organisation can start to formulate an internal culture based on trust.
The trick, Sharp says, is recognising what culture you want to create in the first place and then exuding that culture through your screening and management policies.
“If you’re in the insurance business, for example, you may deliberately want your brand and your culture to be full of people who will follow the rules, double-check everything, stick within their box and just deal with the facts as presented,” he says.
“Whereas in a different industry that is much more relationship and people focused, you may not be so worried about the rules as they previously existed. As long as someone has the right intent and the honesty to address their previous mistakes, you may want to give them an opportunity to show they’ve grown.”
“You can have your screening policy tailored accordingly – to tap into, and reinforce, your desired culture.”
Taking the right steps
As a business owner or HR manager, you want to provide your existing staff with a welcoming and positive environment, but you also want them to be secure in the knowledge that all future employees will be properly vetted.
Sharp says there are four important factors to consider when deploying a new screening policy:
- Industry type: “[Hiring managers] need to have thought about what industry they are in, what their organisational makeup is like, what the overall culture of the organisation is, and what they’re looking at as a whole.”
- Advertised role: “They need to think about the particular role they’re recruiting for and consider what risks may arise in that role.”
- Level of access for that role: “Is it a finance role where someone will be dealing with all the money going through the organisation? That heightens the risk. Or is someone joining – even at a low level – the IT team? Because these days the IT team has access to virtually everything.”
- Required checks: “It’s then a matter of identifying the risks at both a business and role level, and then choosing the appropriate checks to reduce those risks to an acceptable level, or mitigate them entirely.”
Once you have made the decision to integrate a new screening policy into your workplace, be sure it’s part of a standardised approach in order to effectively reduce risk and expenses, maintain culture and improve employee wellbeing and retention.