There is no denying the fact that human capital is the key differentiator between good and great companies. An Organization’s ability to attract, engage, develop and retain good talent makes all the difference. We are witnessing a huge change in the way HR is being perceived now as also how HR professionals are looking at the profession and their role/contribution. This has brought about a fundamental shift in thinking, has helped break a few barriers and has encouraged new ideas and disruptions.
Some examples of this new thought process include doing away with the bell curve, looking at quality of work and not work hours, increased interest in flexi-working, focus on diversity management and so on. The employee of today is very different from the employee of the past and hence the need to look at policies, processes and procedures that serve to enhance one’s ability to perform to his/her full potential.
While there are a lot of positive changes in all spheres of people management, one area that needs attention and disruption is ‘employee background screening’. Data is everywhere and everything is becoming digital which is good but with it come bigger risks and threats. In my interaction with a few senior HR leaders, I understand that employee fraud is on the rise and a single instance of fraud has a catastrophic effect on the company. The fundamental reason for this issue is poor background screening.
Companies do invest time and money in verifying as many details as they can, but there are huge gaps in every step. The three main aspects to employee verification is Accuracy, speed and authenticity and there is a scope of improvement in all of these areas.
I was talking to the Head of HR of an IT company and he was telling me about how an employee forged a letter (in the company letter head) claiming a huge salary to take a loan which he did not repay and the authorities came questioning. Others talk of how the verification reports are incomplete and don’t help them take an informed/right decision.
With the mad rush to hire talent, sometimes established processes also get bypassed and it’s a time bomb waiting to explode. There are many other gaps that need to be filled including the timing of the verification, the seriousness given to the process, compliance and so on.
What’s the solution?
It is not an easy solution, but there is a need for all stakeholders to come together on this with openness to embrace technology and a will to comply with agreed processes.
- Educational Institutions need to digitise the academic certificates and cooperate with employers and verification agencies for quick and accurate information.
- Employers need to come together and ensure that ‘employment information’ requests about exited employees are given priority and that correct information be given within a reasonable time.
- Employees also have a key role to play. They need to provide the right information and cooperate completely in the verification process.
- I think the biggest role is that of verification agencies which need to innovate and bring in new technologies, processes to make the screening robust, secure and fast. With a big push for digitization of records and identity management, this is the time for something new and disruptive in this space.
A lot of interesting developments are happening around us. Instant verification of Identity through the UIDAI system, the government’s NAD (National Academic Depository) initiative, increased traction in the e-criminal records database, advancements in behavioural assessments, mapping of digital & social footprint and secure technologies like Blockchain and Machine learning are bound to change employee background verification for good. The question is how soon can we bring about this change.
I look forward to your views and perspectives to keep the debate going and to find best practices that can be adapted and implemented by all.