Today’s employers face an ever-evolving landscape when it comes
to making informed decisions related to safety, qualifications and risk.
Many companies, particularly in the “gig economy,” are in uncharted
territory, while others are seeking to navigate a patchwork of federal
and state regulations.
The results demonstrated that nearly all human resources professionals
now utilize background screening, citing public safety as their top
priority. Employers of all sizes and locations report using screening
as part of their onboarding process, typically after an interview or
When asked about the challenges they face when conducting background
screening, these professionals were most likely to cite the length of
time to get results. NAPBS members echo that this is a predominant
challenge. They cite the trend of ever-decreasing availability of
identifiers—such as dates of birth—in public record data, which
requires additional time in researching. The survey also provided a
clearer picture of how and what employers are screening.
Public safety was overwhelmingly cited as the top reason employers conduct
background checks. A full 89 percent stated they conduct checks to protect
employees, customers and others. In a time when workplace shootings and other
violence are often news topics, employers are responding by implementing
screening programs to protect employees, customers and communities.
Human resource professionals highlighted the need for accuracy in their
screening, with 98 percent responding they believe it is “very important” to their
organization that the checks are accurate. At the same time, 62 percent stated
that the length of time to get results is the most significant challenge facing their
organization when conducting background checks. Cost was the second most
cited challenge at 60 percent.
The results send a strong message to those states or locales that are considering
or are already removing identifying information, such as addresses and dates
of birth from public records. Redacting identifiers can lead to delays in hiring or
result in applicants losing out on a job while the search for identifiers to confirm or
refute that a record matches the applicant is ongoing. Identifiers are also crucial to
ensuring the accuracy of background screenings.
Slightly more than half of the survey respondents represented companies
with fewer than 99 employees (52 percent), with nearly a quarter (24 percent)
of all respondents coming from companies with fewer than 24 employees.
Nearly half (46 percent) represent privately held companies, with 37 percent
representing non-profits. Sixty-one percent of companies perform fewer than
100 background screenings annually, compared with 28 percent that conduct
101 to 1,000 screenings. Six percent conduct 1,001 to 4,999 screenings, and
less than 5 percent conduct 5,000 or more.
Eighty percent reported their organization has a documented screening policy,
with only 10 percent saying they did not and 9 percent stating they did not
know. Most companies wait to conduct a background screen until after a job
interview or conditional job offer.
A full 86 percent conduct a background screen after the job interview,
including 55 percent that wait until after a conditional job offer is made
Of the 96 percent of employers that reported conducting
background screening, when asked whether screening was
conducted at any point other than the initial hiring/onboarding
57 percent conduct a background screening only during the hiring process
15 percent report conducting screenings at times other than the initial hiring/
onboarding because they are required by law to do so
11 percent conduct screenings at times other than the initial hiring/
onboarding process for cause.
Background checks not only helps ensure quality and safety of employment but also can end up saving a company money in the future.