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Risk Mitigation Background Screening

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November 8, 2010 Return to News & Events

Risk Mitigation: A Crucial Element of Background Screening

Background screening is a key element in the hiring process.  A primary purpose is to gain critical information to verify information provided by a candidate.  Criminal history, social security number trace, driving records, employment and education verifications are data sources Human Resources (HR) utilizes in this vetting process, but HR professionals know that verification and validation of information is only one use of a background check.

  1. Creating a safe work environment is a core responsibility for HR and risk mitigation is a primary activity. 

    “Systematic reduction in the extent of exposure to a risk and/or the likelihood of its occurrence”

    Background screening is methodical and systematic activity that is designed and utilized specifically to control and/or reduce the amount of exposure one may have in a particular situation.  Beyond a tool for pre-employment screening and verification, background checks provide key information and data points that allow individuals to make informed decisions about hiring or engaging others in a situation that may be considered uncertain or risky.  Examples may include hiring a nanny or caregiver, renting property, or engaging volunteers.  Thorough background screening helps eliminate potential risk.

  3. There are several areas one may consider that have potential for risk.
    1. Personnel
    2. The most obvious form of risk mitigation is to protect individuals from potential harm.  A proper background check will utilize criminal records, social security number trace discoveries and other reports to both verify and validate information supplied by a candidate.  Understanding the recent past of an individual will inform the potential for risk.  Providing a work environment that is free from the threat of personal harm is important, not only to the existing employees but also to new hires as well.
    3. Property
    4. Landlords and property managers understand that property damage can cost thousands of dollars and take a valuable, income-generating property off the market for long periods of time.  Property damage affects business as well.  There is always potential for intentional damage, especially in warehouses, on production lines or with company vehicles.
    5. Financial
    6. Workers' Compensation fraud is one of the most expensive costs a company can incur.  Without checking Worker's Compensation history the potential for risk remains high.  Additional reports, such as a nationwide criminal background check, draws information from a number of different databases relevant to discovering a variety of "white collar" crimes.
      Fraudulent Worker's Comp claims continue to be prevalent in today's modern economy and will continue to be a threat as they are difficult and expensive to disprove.  Fraud also comes in a variety of other forms.  It can occur in different areas of a business and is not just an activity that affects Accounting.
    7. Reputation
    8. Every company wants to present a positive image to the public as well as their work force.  One bad hire can significantly harm a company.  As a reputation is damaged current employees that excel in their positions may chose to leave or prospective employees may chose to look elsewhere. 
    9. Material
    10. Background screening often creates a barrier that potential "bad employees" seldom cross successfully.  Material loss is a significant cost center for retail and warehousing companies and loss management departments carry the burden of controlling these costs.  Increasingly, retailers often use thorough background screening to vet employees at the lowest levels.  Gone are the days where one could walk into a department store and get a job without the worry of a background check.

In the end, background screening is a critical aspect of risk mitigation.  In an era where a single employee can bring down the largest company with a single act, the best practice is to put in place significant risk mitigation policies.  A thorough review of criminal records, verification of employment and education provide the information one needs to make an informed choice.


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