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The 4 trends changing recruitment, and the opportunities that they provide for background screening

By Steve Girdler, HireRight

The employment landscape has changed considerably in the last few years, and these changes have significantly challenged assumptions about the fundamentals of HR management and the use of background checks. Rapid developments in technology, paired with an increasingly global workforce, has created a seismic shift in working habits and best practice. These four key trends have shaped modern HR practices considerably - and are likely to continue to do so for the foreseeable future – with big implications for the use of employee screening.

Growth of the gig economy

The upsurge in temporary and contractor working habits, often referred to as the ‘gig economy,’ is a movement that has evolved the modern employment scene and the entire concept of a workplace. An ever-growing contingent workforce has developed on a global scale, and in the UK it has been a contentious issue for government authorities and HR professionals alike.

On the one hand, the increased availability of temporary and contractual work has brought many benefits to the UK’s developing digital economy and to people seeking more flexible working arrangements, such as parents returning to the workforce. However, this type of work poses an array of new risks to employers and workers rights. In terms of corporate risk and security, many temporary workers may have access to the same level of information as permanent workers. HireRight’s 2018 EMEA Employment Screening Benchmark Survey showed that only 35% of employers are screening contingent or temporary workers, which could be leaving companies vulnerable. In the long run, HR professionals will likely have to ensure recruitment methods meet the specific demands of a more fluid workforce, which may include consistent background screening for contingent or temporary workers, in line with their other screening policies.

Rising regulatory scrutiny

Changes to employment, governance and data protection laws have placed many organisations under the spotlight, particularly due to their recruitment practices. Most significantly, the recent implementation of the GDPR on 25th May has mandated a fundamental change to the way companies handle and store individuals’ data, as well as established recruitment methods. Gathering employees’ data is fundamental to the work of HR and recruitment, so taking steps to ensure compliance with the new regulations will continue to be a top priority.

In light of these changes, the processes applied for background screening are being scrutinised as well, with careful review of processing activities and taking care to ensure that the candidate’s rights are protected. Companies who manage screening in-house should validate that their processes are compliant and may consider outsourcing the function to background screening providers who have already established operations and data handling processes that take GDPR into consideration.

Recruiting the millennial generation

In some ways, traditional roles have been somewhat reversed in the recruitment process, especially since attracting new and younger generations of talent remains a top priority for businesses. In the past, where stress-inducing tests and probing interviews were part and parcel of the recruitment process, there has been a shift in companies now placing greater emphasis on a more positive candidate experience. Aiming to portray their company and brand in a good light, professionals are understandably focused on creating a positive experience for each individual with whom they interact.

With an increased focus on onboarding young talent, many companies have taken the opportunity to review their whole recruitment process, from where and how they search for new employees, through to the interview process and the candidate’s experience during employment background checks. By ensuring that the whole process is as user-friendly and mobile as possible, companies are able to connect with the millennial generation and position themselves as a tech-savvy place to work.

The use of AI and ‘smart’ technology

Facing an increasingly competitive talent market and looking to save on time, HR professionals and recruiters have begun handing high-volume CV reviews over to technology. Artificial intelligence has also been used in the sector for standardised job matching and in the creation of chatbots to aid candidates.

Despite the array of positives that technological advances bring, there are inevitable downsides. For example, AI is programmed to spot patterns of behaviour, such as conscious or unconscious bias, which could mean that an ideal candidate might be overlooked. Others argue that technology simply doesn’t have the same human insight or ‘gut feeling’ as a person, like an individual’s cultural fit with an organisation. Technology is playing an increasingly important role in background screening too, but the human element will never be removed from the equation.

The landscape of recruitment continues to change, and so does how employment screening fits into that. From technology to transparency, the HR community faces both significant challenges and big opportunities in their relentless pursuit of finding the perfect hire.

Steve Girdler is Managing Director for EMEA and APAC at HireRight, one of the world’s leading providers of employment and background screening services