Employee Background Checks: Top Eleven Trends for 2022

Posted: February 11, 2022

It is more important than ever that businesses understand best practices and trends for employee background checks when looking to expand or manage their workforce.

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed everything for employers over the past two years, creating new challenges associated with managing and hiring a remote workforce since 2020, along with a multitude of other issues.

Here are the top eleven trends our analysts and market observers expect to drive employment screening best practices in 2022. Many of these trends have been evolving over the past few years, while others have only emerged because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

  1.  Remote Employees and Hiring – The onset of COVID-19 changed everything for employers’ hiring practices when a significant portion of the workforce shifted to telecommuting, a trend that is likely to continue in 2022 and beyond. When hiring remote workers, it’s more important than ever for companies to properly screen their employees since monitoring and managing remote workers can present unique challenges, especially in high security situations. Additionally, COVID-19 has created a need for companies to be able to hire employees virtually with little to no face-to-face interaction for interviews, onboarding paperwork, etc.
  2. The Great Resignation Changes Hiring Practices – The Covid pandemic sparked the “Great Resignation” in 2021, leading to the highest resignation rates in 40 years. The “Great Resignation” has made companies scramble to attract and retain talent and adapt their screening requirements to accommodate the fast-paced hiring market. As a result of the labor shortage the Great Resignation has created, it is more important than ever to streamline your hiring process, so you don’t miss out on the best candidates.
  3. Redacting Dates of Birth from Records – As part of an increased focus on privacy protection, courts in some jurisdictions are removing date of birth (DOB) information from public court records, which can impact background screening companies’ ability to verify that the record belongs to the right person. Recent legislation in California and Michigan is having a significant impact on how criminal records are reported for background checks. The new legislation, which is designed to prevent identity theft, is making things very difficult for consumer reporting agencies (CRAs), including Info Cubic. This issue is likely to impact the background screening industry in 2022 and beyond.
  4. Delays with Drug Screening and Background Checks – 2021 will be remembered as the year of supply chain issues as numerous problems have emerged from the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, which are continuing into 2022. Unfortunately, the background check industry is not immune to the issues as extreme backlogs in federal and workplace drug testing are being reported at every major laboratory in the US and abroad. There are many factors creating a “perfect storm” for drug testing delays, including a nationwide spike in drug screening demand caused by increased hiring as companies try to overcome the ongoing labor shortage, the labor shortage itself in drug testing collection sites and laboratories. There have also been delays with transportation systems and logistics and shortages in supplies needed to make drug testing kits, including a plastic shortage that has reduced the availability of testing cups. Additionally, there are delays with background checks resulting from legislation to remove PII from court records, especially in several California counties. If more states and counties adopt similar legislation in the future, it will only create more delays and issues with obtaining accurate criminal background checks quickly.
  5. Ban the Box Legislation Expands – Info Cubic’s analysis indicates that “Ban the Box” and Second Chance laws will continue to expand across more states and cities in the United States in 2022 and beyond. The “Ban the Box” movement is growing quickly. As of early 2022, there is “Ban the Box” legislation in 37 states and 150 cities and counties, which provide varying restrictions on employers inquiring into a candidate’s criminal history.  These laws remove the “checkbox” in a typical employment application that asks candidates about their criminal history, which helps applicants with criminal records move past initial hiring stages, or otherwise restrict employers from inquiring about criminal history at certain times throughout the application and interview process.  Many ordinances still allow employers to consider convictions later in the process, particularly if criminal history has implications for the position.
  6. Salary History Concerns – There is an ongoing focus on achieving pay equity between men and women and among ethnic groups. Proponents of this mission feel that banning salary history inquires during the interviews and the employment screening process helps accomplish this goal. Achieving pay equity is a national trend that continues to expand, as more cities and states introduce pay equity legislation to lessen the gender pay gap. As of the beginning of 2022, 14 states have laws that prohibit employers from asking job candidates their salary history, while 20 states and Washington, D.C. offer protections for workers for compensation discussions.
  7. Interest in ATS / Background Check Integrations Continues to Increase – Applicant Tracking System (ATS)/ background check integrations are changing the world of employee background checks. While these platforms have been around for years, more companies of all sizes are recognizing how using an ATS can improve the candidate experience and lead to better hires and better employee relationships. Applicant Tracking Systems have grown in popularity during the pandemic as human resources professionals have had to do more with fewer resources. Integrating your ATS platform is a great way to save money, streamline processes, increase transparency, and eliminate dual data entry. They can also lead to faster hiring processes, fewer phone calls and emails between decision-makers and candidates, and improved candidate experiences on mobile and desktop devices. When choosing employee background check services, look for a company that offers custom integrations with your existing solutions.  
  8. Screening Current Employees – While most employers screen job applicants before hiring them, many of them are getting onboard with screening them AFTER they become employees, too. While a good pre-employment screening process helps decrease the possibility of hiring unqualified, dishonest, or dangerous applicants, implementing a screening process for current employees further guards against risk to the company and the workplace. Ongoing criminal search screening and drug testing are two items companies may want to periodically review. Many companies screen employees one time, as new hires, using pre-employment background checks; however, some organizations are now adopting ongoing criminal monitoring. With estimates that 12% of the workforce may experience an arrest over the next five years, this ongoing criminal monitoring approach offers employers more security and peace of mind. However, it may also make employees feel uneasy or that they can’t be trusted. HR employees must create a clear, well-crafted policy around continuous employee background checks then communicate the policy with honesty and transparency.   
  9. Millennials Continue to Impact Background Check Evolution – Millennials have taken over the workplace, and they’re having an impact on traditional workplace procedures—including background checks. Transparency is prized by millennials, so providing it during the employee background check process is important. When working with potential employees, explain what will be performed in the screening process before it happens, and allow for questions and explanations if a negative piece of information arises when the background check is conducted. Additionally, millennials may not rely on credit cards as much as older generations. Looking at a credit report, as part of the job responsibility, may pose a challenge when screening millennials. 
  10. Social Media Screening Will Continue to Increase – Including social media as part of employee background checks is a hotly contested issue. A screen of an applicant’s social media accounts can be a useful screening tool. However, it can also create a host of potential liability issues if not processed according to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and Equal Employment Opportunity (EEOC) guidelines. Social media screens can provide a wealth of information about an individual’s social habits. These screens can also provide misinformation that steers HR employees down the wrong path. In addition, some states have already passed legislation that prohibits employers from requiring potential or current employees to share their social media information. However, if the job applicant works in public relations, marketing, or social media, for example, an evaluation of his/her online presence and knowledge can be invaluable.
  11. Gig” Workers on the Rise – During the pandemic, more workers have turned to “gig” or freelance work. As the number of gig workers increase, so does the potential liability to companies who employ them. In the past, employers haven’t bothered with the hassle of screening a gig employee, but that is changing. In 2022, we’ll see HR focus on gig economy screening as closely as they do regular employees. The “gig economy” has exploded over the past few years—most notably with transportation services such as Uber and Lyft. According to a report from Intuit, 7.6 million people will be part of the on demand gig this year, and that slice of the labor market will grow by 18.5 percent per year over the next five years. Bad publicity regarding the safety of consumers, however, has caused these companies to begin taking background checks more seriously. According to Uber’s 2017-2018 U.S. Safety Report, 5,981 incidents of sexual assault were reported during Uber rides.  Because many of the workers in the gig economy aren’t employed full-time, the companies they work for don’t always perform due diligence in terms of pre-employment or continuous criminal monitoring background checks.  

For more information on background checks trends, please contact Info Cubic at (888) 925-0922.