An overwhelming number of COVID-19 background screening survey respondents said that the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting human resources at their company. There are also concerns about fraud, and the protection of confidential information as a large percentage of the workforce has gone virtual in work-from-home arrangements.

CRI Group conducted the survey to measure the pulse of human resources during a challenging time in business worldwide. The largest number (38 percent) of survey participants were human resources professionals, but respondents also included managers (19 percent), executives, directors, administrators (27 percent) and other roles.

Survey results

Questions ranged from the impact of COVID-19 on the workforce to issues surrounding fraud and data protection. Most respondents said they are having to approach human resources issues in new ways with the changed landscape of conducting business during a pandemic. The following are a few of the major takeaways from the survey:

Few in the HR world are untouched by COVID-19: More than 88 percent of respondents said that the pandemic is having an impact on their HR operations, and 65 percent are considering new ways to retain employees during the crisis.

While there have been layoffs, some companies are hiring during the pandemic: 57 percent of respondents said they are either currently hiring, or planning to hire, new employees under a work-from-home arrangement. This makes employee background screening a crucial issue that cannot be put on hold during COVID-19.

They’ve developed ways to ensure that work-from-home policies are being followed: Organisations do this through “observations from supervisors, response rate, time consumption in assignment completion” and “by having frequent video calls on Zoom,” among other methods.

Employee background screening is lacking: When asked if all of the employees who are authorised to access sensitive information (e.g., IT department) have been screened from criminal, media, employment history perspective prior to any work-from-home arrangement, 54 percent answered that they were not.

Companies understand the fraud risk factor during the pandemic: Nearly 77 percent of HR professionals accept that there is a risk that employees can initiate fraudulent activity because of the work-from-home arrangement.

They identified the most critical background checks for employees: These include employment verification, identity checks, reference checks, education verification and criminal background screening.

Getting the best employees is their highest motivation: When asked what the most important factors are for conducting background screening, the top responses were to improve quality of hires (73 percent), protecting employees, customers (54 percent), mandated by law/regulations (38 percent) and protect company reputation (also 38 percent).

HR challenges persist in conducting background screening: The biggest hurdle, according to respondents, is the length of time to get results (69 percent). Other top challenges include data accuracy (46 percent) and cost (38 percent). This is why finding a provider that can deliver quality checks in the shortest timeframe and reasonable cost possible is of the utmost importance for companies dealing with background screening uncertainty during the pandemic (and beyond).

Most organisations represented in the survey were privately held, but the participants also included publicly-held companies and nonprofits. They ranged from under 100 employees to 5,000 or more.

The survey provides valuable information for companies, employees, and human resources professionals and teams who serve them. It also sheds light on the critical need for increased employee background screening and data protection during a tumultuous time.

COVID-19 background screening guide

CRI Group has developed EmploySmart™, a robust pre-employment background screening service to address the concerns and issues discussed in the survey. While businesses have changed and adapted during COVID-19, the risks posed to companies remain – and in some cases, are increased. Fraudsters are opportunists who take advantage of vulnerabilities, and a time of crisis presents many changes and deviations from usual business practices. The rise in recruitment fraud is creating a number of challenges – last year it cost £23 Billion just in the UK. The COVID-19 is set to cost even more. And what is particularly worrying for any HR professional is that fraud in recruitment regularly sees genuine businesses used to add legitimacy to illegal behaviour. CRI Group developed the complementary COVID-19 Background screening guide. Taken as a whole, this ebook is the perfect primer for any HR professional, business leader and companies looking to avoid employee background screening risks. It provides the tools and knowledge needed to effectively stay ahead of COVID-19.