If there’s one thing you can be sure about the future of the workplace it is increased pre and post employment screening of all employees. The reasons behind this growing trend are raised awareness about the necessity of implementing thorough background checks and the availability of a wide range of monitoring tools.
Social media screening
The use of social media as a valid screening tool is still very much in a gray area as there are no clear regulations on the issue and employers are under the constant threat of breach of privacy lawsuits.
However, this doesn’t stop Human Resources from conducting discreet checks on a job applicant’s social media profiles. The figures speak for themselves. According to a study conducted by CareerBuilder, in 2018, 70% of the employers polled admitted they checked their prospective employees’ social media accounts. Even more telling, 57% of the HR managers interviewed said that some of the things they discovered through social media screening led them to turn down an application.
Criminal background checks
The main reason businesses use police checks as a screening tool is that hiring a person with a criminal background might spell trouble for the company down the line. Everything is possible from a future employee committing thefts or company fraud to disturbances in the workplace caused by that employee’s propensity for violent behaviour or sexual harassment. In turn, such actions can lead to financial losses, decreased productivity or lawsuits for negligent hiring.
Australian businesses have been incentivized to make criminal background checks part of their screening routine by the fact that there’s been a rise in the number of quick and reliable online tools that allow them to conduct hassle-free police checks. Online character check agencies, accredited with the federal government, are affordable and easy to use and offer quick results. You can get a full national police report on a prospective employee in 2-3 days. An example of this is the Australian character check service whose website can be accessed by persons all over the world via the following link: https://www.australiannationalcharactercheck.com.au/ (direct website link).
It is also important to note that criminal history in countries like Australia and New Zealand are disclosed in accordance with a “Spent Convictions Scheme”. This means that depending on the job requirements and the applicants contact with vulnerable persons in the workplace, not all criminal history may be disclosed on the certificate. Spent convictions are meant to protect the applicant’s rights to non-disclosure should an offence not be relevant to their job requirements, and therefore pose no risk to the community in general. For further information on the spent convictions scheme, you can click here.
An interesting development is the growing use of continuous background checks on employees, which is a very smart thing to do. A police check, for instance, is nothing but a snapshot of an individual’s criminal record at a specific point in time. It doesn’t offer any guarantee as to how a certain employee will behave in a year or two. Take the case of a delivery service which requires a large number of drivers. Doing a background check once a year will allow an employer to see if any of its drivers has a standing charge for driving while intoxicated. Likewise, an employee facing sexual abuse charges might be a great liability for the company if that person frequently interacts with customers.
On the other hand, companies are also looking for ways to implement permanent monitoring of their employees’ social media activity. More and more, employees, especially high-ranking ones, are viewed as ‘social ambassadors’ for the brand and what they post on their social media accounts might reflect badly on the company.
While the tendency toward increased background checks is obvious, over the next few years one can expect an increase in lawsuits against employers and the only solution to this problem is passing clear privacy and anti-discrimination laws. These would help HR managers to stay within the law, while also allowing employees to know what to expect.