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December 1, 2020

10 Reasons HR Should Background Check Current Employees

Group of Various EmployeesSmart HR Professionals know that mediocre employees can, with time and coaching, sometimes become high performers. Unfortunately, the opposite is also true.

Over time, once stellar, honest, dependable employees can fall into dangerous, unacceptable habits that cause them to negatively affect the organization. One way of proactively identifying and addressing this problem is with post-hire background screening.

Here are 10 reasons HR should background check current employees.

#1: Your company is in a regulated industry. One of the best reasons to conduct post-hire screening is, well, because the law makes you do it. Certain industries like healthcare, financial, and transportation require companies to conduct periodic searches on their employees.

#2: Your company serves vulnerable populations. Children, disabled people, and the elderly are especially vulnerable to those who would choose to do harm. If your organization serves these populations, screening your current employees and/or volunteers consistently is a smart best practice.

#3-#5: You have employees who could do great harm to your company, like those who…

  • have access to company funds. Certain positions, such as an accountant, payroll supervisor, buyer, or cashier, put employees close to company money and assets. These staff members can damage the company’s bottom line if they decide to steal.
  • possess the ability to tarnish the company’s reputation. High profile employees like the C-Suite, salespeople, and team members who work with the public can bring embarrassment to an organization if they act erratically or participate in illegal behavior. For example, would you want Felicity Huffman or Lorie Loughlin on your staff right now? Better to find out about problem behaviors sooner rather than later to minimize the damage their actions can cause.
  • are privy to confidential company and/or client information. Companies that work with sensitive, confidential information should make certain their employees are trustworthy. Trade secrets, the company’s competitive plans, and customers’ personal identifying information are data a shady employee could pilfer for personal gain.

#6: Your organization employs long-term staff. The longer a person is employed, the more crucial it becomes to run a post-hire background check. Applicants who were squeaky clean when you hired them may have acquired a criminal history, drug habit, or financial problem that your company needs to know about.

#7-#9: There’s been a noticeable…

  • change in lifestyle. Has a team member started spending large sums of money, bought a fancy car, or started taking luxurious trips that are out of their pay range? Maybe their rich aunt died, but don’t automatically assume that. Question where the funds are coming from.
  • change in performance. A typically productive employee going downhill is a cause for concern. Being habitually late, unfocused, rude, and not showing up are behaviors that, if they become a pattern, should be investigated.
  • participation in dangerous/unhealthy behavior. Have you heard office gossip of a team member using drugs? Are they displaying an explosive temper or signs of violence? Employees who are acting this way, especially if it’s new behavior, need to be reviewed.

#10: It’s part of your company’s plan. A cohesive background screening policy is imperative to help choose the best people to fill your open positions. It’s also essential to keep the right people in the company and address concerns as early as possible. Screening current employees can be a helpful, smart addition to your employment screening process.

Screening current employees in a compliant manner.

If you decide to add post-hire screening to your processes, be sure to include these two components:

  • An evergreen authorization. When your job applicants agree (in writing) for their backgrounds to be checked, make certain the document’s language reads that the authorization doesn’t expire. (Note: check your state laws before putting an evergreen authorization into place).
  • Decide “when” and “what” will be used. Create a plan in writing for when you will screen current employees. Will it be every year? Will it be upon reasonable suspicion? A set plan protects your organization from discrimination claims. Also decide the type of background checks you are going to use. Relevancy and consistency are crucial. Some of this may depend on the position. For example, a deliver person may need to be screened with a Motor Vehicle Records Search, while your accountant may not need that, but might need a Credit Report pulled on them.

Although there is flexibility in the types of screening products companies use to background check current employees, the following tools are the most popular at reducing risk and improving the bottom line:

  • Criminal records checks.Reviewing a county criminal search in the county the employee lives, and a nationwide data base search is a smart best practice.
  • Drug screening.Drug addicted employees can disrupt the entire workplace and cause a variety of damaging and expensive issues if left unchecked. There are a wide range of drug screening products, from urine to saliva to hair testing, that employers can put in action to identify drug abusing employees. Utilize drug testing and put a program in place for offenders.
  • Credit report checks.Checking an employee’s credit report is one way to measure the person’s trustworthiness and decrease the risk of becoming a victim of fraud. This process can uncover bad judgment and financial issues that could tempt the employee to steal or engage in other unsavory behavior detrimental for the company.
  • Motor vehicle records search This report generates from the DMV and reveals violations, such as a DUI or an expired license, that could be problematic to your company. 

The main idea HR should take from this article is that background checks shouldn’t be stamped “Complete” once a job candidate is hired. Over time, there may be instances of criminal activity, drug use, or other lifestyle problems that end up causing serious problems for the employer. Proactively identify these and work on them by implementing post-hire screening into your employee management initiatives.

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