National Survey Confirms Nearly Universal Adoption of Employment Background Checks

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The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS) recently released its second national survey of 2,137 human resource professionals to measure their views on the use and effectiveness of background screening methods. Conducted in conjunction with HR.com, the survey covered a breadth of topics including the top reasons companies conduct background checks, notable priorities and concerns in screening and the common components of background checks.

The Results

According to the survey, 95% of employers conduct some type of background check related to employment. Of those respondents, 85% stated they screen all full-time employees, while 68% also included part-time employees. The survey also revealed that a majority of employers wait to conduct the check until after an interview or job offer. These results tracks closely with the results from last year’s survey demonstrating the continued importance background checks play in employment decisions.

Why Companies Worry About Screening Employee Base

Safety! Companies that responded to the survey cited public safety – the protection of employees, customers and others – as the primary reason they conduct background checks. Other reasons? Improving quality of hires, legal or regulatory requirements, protecting company reputation, and preventing and/or reducing theft, embezzlement and other criminal activity.

What Employers Are Searching For

Now that we’ve covered the “why”, what are employers searching for the most? Criminal history checks, through various national, county and statewide searches, continue to be the most common component of a background check. The survey also included a Social Security Trace, Sex Offender Registry searches, drug and alcohol testing and motor vehicle driving records as top background check components. Only 8% of employers use a social media search.

Background Screening Challenges

Consistent with last year’s survey, HR professionals stated that the accuracy of their background check is paramount (with 98% claiming accuracy is “very important”). One of the biggest challenges cited by 65% of employers is the length of time it takes to receive the results of a background check. Extended turnaround times in the background screening process can be due to a variety of factors, including issues with obtaining access to sufficient identifiers in court records. Employers should connect with their background screening provider on this topic in particular.

International Background Screening

New to this year’s survey, NAPBS also focused on gauging employers’ views and uses of international background checks. Although not all companies have locations or screen job applicants outside of the United States, 80% of employers indicated that having international screening capabilities was at least somewhat important to their organization. As the global workforce continues to become more mobile, international background screening capabilities will continue to rise in importance.
This survey offers valuable insight into employers’ views and uses of background screening while identifying areas of priority and concern. The 5% of employers that do not conduct background checks should seriously consider implementing at least a basic background screening program to help reduce risk, protect public safety and evaluate talent thoroughly.

Learn More About Background Screening

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