How COVID-19 has impacted Global Background Screening

How COVID-19 has impacted Global Background Screening

It has been a year since COVID-19 outbroke and began spreading as quickly as a forest fire across 188 countries. From then till now, millions of lives have been impacted in unthinkable ways – with several businesses facing huge losses, drastic fall in employment rate, and unfortunate loss of human life. Global shares fell like never before and the risk of recession has also been on the rise. Since then, businesses have started thinking out of the box to stay away from monumental losses and use crisis as an opportunity.

More and more people are looking out for jobs because of either unemployment or salary cuts. Youngsters are among the hardest hit by the recent labor market downfall triggered by the pandemic. People aged between 16 and 24 were at a disadvantage, even before the pandemic struck. A majority of youngsters lack job experience and job-specific skills or do not have personal savings. They have always been more prone to unemployment, and the pandemic had just aggravated the impact.

Social distancing measures and other regulations forcing people to remain at home that were introduced between March and April of 2020, sparked extraordinary unemployment rates across the county. In April 2020, 32 percent of people aged between 16 and 19 were unemployed. For young people aged 20 to 24, around 20 – 25% were unemployed. These numbers are comparatively higher than youth unemployment rates recorded at the peak of the Great Recession, likely because the pandemic is impacting the education system, services, and industries like never seen before.

Youth unemployment before and after the COVID-19 outbreak

Data from Mathematica reveal that since the pandemic hit, unemployment rates have spiked for every gender, racial, and ethnic group. Here’s a graph showing the unemployment results amongst various groups.

Youth unemployment before and after the COVID-19 outbreak by subgroups

How is hiring changing?

Almost all industries have felt the ‘pandemic effect’ and, as an unwelcomed consequence, the hiring ratio has also seen a dip. Companies have either reduced hiring or implemented a hiring freeze; only a few among the whole crowd continue to hire at a normal rate and a steep decline in hiring can be seen between April and August of 2020. The market seems to have opened slowly post August 2020 but still, companies are reluctant and do not want to sail in unknown territories for now.

Hiring challenges are prevalent across several industries. Here are a few of the most common challenges employers are facing today, from the hiring standpoint.

– Hiring budgets are seeing cuts and employers are not able to hire the right skills at the right packages

– Reduced face-to-face interviews and increased virtual interviews

– Delays in onboarding as a result of delays in completing the background screening process

– Mass layoffs in mid and small-sized organizations because of low or minimal work

– Bulk hiring requirements in few industries, including retail, e-commerce, supermarkets, sanitation workers, business software, remote meeting, and online learning, that are experiencing a rise in labor demand

– The inevitable demand for remote hiring

Organizations tend to struggle due to a lack of clarity as to when this situation will come back to normal and when markets would stabilize. Consequently, we can see a series of technological interventions around hiring. Companies are experiencing a variety of challenges where physical intervention is required. This becomes more evident when background screening processes are concerned.

What are the challenges faced in Background Screening?

The background screening industry in particular is seeing quite many challenges post this black swan event, the following being some of the prominent ones.

– Delays in progressing with checks because of source’s unavailability

– Sources leaving calls/emails unanswered

– Sources not using official email addresses for verifications

– Increase in demand for additional documents to conduct verifications

– Increase in the Unable to Verify (UTV) rate due to the source’s failure to respond

– Increased dependencies on online portals for certain verification processes

– Limited availability of field agents in remote areas due to the fear of COVID-19

Times are changing, and organizations are being forced to rethink their traditional strategies, methods, and processes through which they conduct background screening processes. Here are the current updates around certain critical verification processes that companies have begun to incorporate

Court Records:

Location matters. All courts are not closed, and some are seen to be still open for normal public-record search requests, as reported by the state courthouse websites; some courts are open only for online searches. So, an employment check’s failure or success will depend on the location. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) has placed a mandatory obligation on the background-check vendors to completely ensure that the information reported is not incomplete and outdated. A majority of the information obtained online needs to be validated with the court. If a court is closed or if clerks are unavailable, then courts’ repositories may not be updated, and those verifications cannot be completed, even if a court has an automated system.

Work and Education Verifications:

Conducting work history and education credential verifications are challenging, as some managers and school officials may be unavailable or preoccupied with other concerns. Educational institutions have been severely affected by the pandemic, with higher chances for falsification of transcripts and diplomas for which authentication has also been not possible due to school closures. Employers are advised not to accept any documents submitted by candidates for education verification at their face value.

Another barrier to completing verifications is that several source/verifiers provide verifications through the public domain and the authenticity is highly dependent on the source. In 35% of checks, verifications are provided via the public domain. Solution providers like Neeyamo are keen on implementing alternate methods for work and education verifications, one of them being the utilization of UAN details for Indian applicants to find out their employment history.

Drug Tests

Many labs are still conducting mandatory drug tests as part of employment checks but will not be available for in-person visits. Some candidates may express reluctance to visit a lab due to fears of exposure to COVID-19.

Address Verification

It has been a challenge to conduct physical address verification across the globe due to the outbreak of the pandemic. On-field agents have been increasingly turning down requests to step out and check for validating records.  Organizations have begun considering alternate methods to continue address verifications through online activities and reduce physical visits.

What should employers focus on?

With the screening environment having evolved, employers should consider different parameters while choosing their global background screening provider. Providers need to:

1. Have a strong market presence across all major geographies

2. Fulfill all global and local compliance requirements

3. Understand local guidelines and be able to conduct verifications adhering to standards

4. Be able to publish interim reports to help clients make wise decisions

5. Have access to critical online databases and portals to manage and provide timely and accurate reports

6. Have access to in-house partners in all locations to be able to conduct the required checks promptly

7. Leverage user-friendly portals and easy-to-go-with processes to conduct background verification checks

8. Function as a one-stop store for all background screening requirements

9. Able to manage huge volume and adapt to the given situation

To learn more about the current trends in global background screening, get in touch with our experts.



Leave a Reply