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Workforce Monitoring Isn't as Scary as it Sounds

ByDavid Bloom,
business.com writer
|
Jul 30, 2019
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> Human Resources
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Conducting a pre-hire background check isn't always enough for employers

Businesses have no shortage of policies in place to protect their customers and their bottom line. Especially as companies grow, they safeguard what’s important. And yet, when it comes to background screening, many employers are missing the full picture.

Research from HR.com has revealed that nearly all U.S. companies, 96 percent, enlist the expertise of a background check during the hiring process. However, after employees are hired, that attention to detail shifts elsewhere: spending limitations, privacy training, travel requirements, standard protocol for reporting unethical situations, and the like. However, as much as employers build trust with employees, there's a risk in running one check and never looking again.

Building trust with your team 

If you ran a background check before your employee started and he consistently shows up and contributes without conflict, you're all good, right? Well, not quite. There are some factors that can't be confirmed simply through observation or regular one-on-ones, and ignorance is not bliss. That's why a growing number of companies are establishing post-hire monitoring.

It sounds intense, I know. If visions of cameras and keyboard readers come to mind, let me dispel those concerns. Responsible programs look only at what's relevant while respecting employees. Workforce monitoring serves as a reliable step to ensure that necessary information, like license status, driver records, and criminal activity, is checked on a regular basis.

It’s not an entirely new concept. Companies in the transportation industry run annual checks on driver records to keep tabs on safety and potential risk. However, that leaves about 11 months and 29 days of open time in between. If a delivery driver gets into two at-fault car accidents, they may not be discovered until the following year. And for companies without follow-up screens, they won't be discovered at all.

It's an especially pertinent issue for those working with people, especially minors. What happens when an employee at a daycare center is charged with assault and the employer, unaware, does not take action? Incidents like these affect people beyond the immediate situation. Consider the impact on the daycare itself and the trustworthiness of the brand. Once that trust is broken for customers and families, it can be nearly impossible to recover.

That’s an extreme case. In reality, most employees live with integrity. But some things slip, like license renewals. That's why more employers are looking for ways to track compliance and avoid uncertainty when it comes to liability.

How can we keep up to date on the important issues to protect our brand and our customers, without impacting employee privacy?

What workforce monitoring is and isn't

New technology gives employers the confidence of current information where it matters. Using the most up-to-date and comprehensive data sources, daily monitoring runs only on the information you care about to help prevent workplace violence, corporate litigation, professional license lapses and fraud.

Companies provide lists of employees that fall underneath the scope of monitoring. Providing these lists and keeping them up to date had traditionally been a challenging, manual process, but technical innovation is rapidly easing this administrative burden. The monitoring provider then automatically enrolls your employees in all desired services. Monitoring is then up and running, continually synching with the latest employee list, and if there's a hit, you receive an alert to review the issue immediately. 

Comprehensive monitoring programs offer the following services, which can be adapted to a business’s specific needs.

  • Criminal activity: Monitoring programs can integrate with booking and incarceration records across the United States.
  • Driver records: Employers can maintain trust with drivers and delivery personnel, thanks to integrations with states' Department of Motor Vehicle databases. Whether employees have commercial or non-commercial licenses, the system can identify changes to an individual's motor vehicle record and promptly notify employers of accidents or misconduct.
  • Healthcare sanctions and exclusions: The medical field (understandably) requires a strict level of compliance. Hospitals and medical facilities can rest assured, knowing that ongoing monitoring scans a range of sanctions and exclusions lists to identify medical professionals working outside legal limits. Screening providers should be looking at the Office of Inspector General’s (OIG) List of Excluded Individuals and Entities (LEIE), General Services Administration’s (GSA) System for Award Management (SAM) database and State Medicaid Exclusion Lists.
  • Medical license status: Beyond sanctions, healthcare organizations also need to remain vigilant of expired or revoked licenses, as well as board actions. This crucial feature alerts employers so that swift action can be taken to renew licenses or terminate work with unlicensed providers.
  • Liens, judgments and bankruptcies: Financial services companies can monitor tax liens, civil judgments and bankruptcies so that they can provide proper disclosures to regulators in a timely fashion and avoid financial penalties.

Continuous, real-time screening allows companies to stay updated without devoting an entire position or team to the process, which is especially unrealistic for smaller businesses. You set up a program and it runs independently in the background. While screening is important, you have plenty of other things to spend your time on. This will help you free up the bandwidth of your HR team so resources can address growth and employee development, as opposed to manually monitoring the basics.

Editor's note: Looking for the right employee monitoring solution for your business? Fill out the below questionnaire to have our vendor partners contact you about your needs.

 

Nearly every industry benefits from a workforce monitoring solution, with some standing out more than others, including healthcare employees interacting with patients, finance executives with access to clients' financial information, transportation contractors driving passengers and childcare staff working with minors. [Are you looking for the right employee monitoring solution for your business? Check out our reviews and best picks.]

The gig economy provides a clear example. Gig companies have been making news as they've implemented workforce monitoring programs, which identify risky and straight-up dangerous behavior, like car accidents, DUIs, or assaults. Near-instant alerts notify leadership of incidents, putting the control in the employers' hands.

These types of events are important knowledge for risk assessment and customer safety. With ongoing monitoring of relevant data sources, employers get the information they need to protect customers and employees alike.

Employer considerations

Trust works both ways in a successful team. In order to maintain respect for employee privacy and keep the high-level security of the company first, having the right policies in place is critical. Implementing an ethical solution requires transparent, well-documented policies that make priorities clear to employees and keep the focus on safety, not scrutiny. As with any business decision, get legal counsel involved to set reasonable guidelines and have a plan to share it with your workforce.

Some aspects of compliance are obvious. Companies need to abide by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) laws and all applicable laws at the local, state, and federal levels. A thorough provider can help with that part. Beyond the law, however, mindful companies can take steps to enable sound policies that encourage open communication with, and from, employees.

Workforce monitoring can be a powerful tool in your company's risk management approach, but a monitoring program will only be as successful as the policy that governs it. It's recommended that employers establish a self-reporting policy, which allows employees to come forward with relevant information and take a proactive role in the conversation. This policy should identify which employees or positions fall under the purview of monitoring, what types of events need to be reported and outline the necessary timeline of action.

Prehire background checks are critical, but they represent a moment in time, a snapshot. Monitoring is like insurance for your hiring decisions. If an issue arises that is a deal-breaker for your business, your monitoring program will catch it for you. Hopefully, before it affects your colleagues, your customers and your company. 


 

David Bloom
David Bloom
See David Bloom's Profile
David Bloom is General Manager of the Small and Medium-Sized Businesses Group at Sterling, the global leader in employment background screening solutions. David was included in Entrepreneur Magazine's Brilliant 100 and on Business Insider’s list of 100 most interesting people in the NYC tech scene. David holds a BA degree from Bates College and an MBA from Cornell University.
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