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Background Checks in Healthcare

With recent news coverage putting the spotlight on stricter background checks for senior caregivers and screening requirements (or lack thereof) for Obamacare navigators, the healthcare industry should be increasingly aware of the need for more comprehensive employment background checks.

Employers in the healthcare industry should be concerned about not only the safety of employees, but particularly the safety and wellbeing of the people they care for—the patients. Whether it’s a hospital, nursing home, or hospice, the healthcare industry is another industry in which employment background checks are more than just an asset—they are vital to protecting patients. EmployeeScreenIQ data shows that of those we screen in the healthcare industry, we find a 21% criminal hit rate, which is lower than our average hit rate of 28%, but this is obviously still a significant number of job candidates.


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Let me officially be the last person to wish you a Happy New Year! I have to admit that I’m not a big fan of New Year’s resolutions.  Why should you wait until January 1st to do something you should have been doing when you recognized a problem? Case in point, my least favorite New Year’s resolution is for those that vow to work out more. From February 15th through December 31st, there’s never a problem waiting for equipment at my gym. However, show up during the first 45 days of the year and a 45 minute workout turns into an hour and a half snore-fest. Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for getting into shape, but 45 days does not make a year.

All that said, I have a challenge for you (since I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions:)). I strongly encourage all human resources professionals resolve to evaluate your company’s employment background screening program from top to bottom in 2014.  The sooner, the better. And lest you think this is a sales pitch, it most definitely is not.  What I am talking about is evaluation of your processes.

Top 10 Items to Consider When Evaluating Your Employment Background Screening Program

  • When was the last time you evaluated your background screening policies and procedures?
  • Are all incoming employees subject to an employment background check?
  • Is the background screening criteria used relevant to the position you are hiring for?
  • Have you clearly defined parameters for what information constitutes a non-hirable offense by position?
  • Are you affected by the myriad “Ban the Box” Laws throughout the country which prohibit you from asking if the candidate has been convicted of a crime on the job application?
  • If so, have you worked that question into a different part of the hiring process?
  • Are you using the proper disclosure forms required by state and federal laws?
  • Are you sure that you are following proper Adverse Action procedures when you deny employment based on the outcome of an employment background check?
  • When was the last time you audited your background screening company for accuracy and compliance?
  • Have you developed the proper procedures to comply with the EEOC requirement for individualized assessment?

Why Should You Care?

Not more than a month went by in 2013 when we didn’t see a marquee press release announcing a multi-million dollar suit being filed against an employer for allegations of violating the Fair Credit Reporting Act in conjunction with their employment background screening practices or discrimination in hiring practices for the same.

Whether these companies being sued are guilty or not, the cost to defend these allegations and the negative publicity surrounding these cases should be a big red flag for all. Class action attorneys have found a new target and they are circling like sharks. Most employers are doing things properly, but there has never been a better time to make sure that you brush up on your responsibilities when it comes to employment background checks.

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It’s not often that we come out and say that we’re the best background screening company. However, there comes a time when we tell prospects and remind our clients of the reasons why our company is the best fit for them. This brief video offers an explanation from EmployeeScreenIQ’s background screening experts describing why we are favored by our clients and the reasons that few leave us.

Based on many years of client feedback, here are a few highlights that we believe set EmployeeScreenIQ apart:

Company Standards—We’re committed to a solid foundation of providing the highest quality and most accurate background check results.

Education—We’re committed to keeping our clients informed and up-to-date on the latest in the background screening industry including legislation related to the EEOC and FCRA.

Relationships—More than providing great customer service for our clients, EmployeeScreenIQ focuses on building a relationship with each and every client.

Longevity—EmployeeScreenIQ has been in business for nearly two decades. From the beginning we wanted to be an organization that was more than a service, but rather is more like an extension of our client’s businesses.

Attention to DetailClients know we are looking out for them–that their successes are our successes and their failures are our failures.

Retention—Plain and simple, our clients love us. With a 99.5% retention rate and over 3,000 clients, we’re proud to say that once someone is a client, they generally stick around.

Team Effort—Many clients say they were sold when they visited our office, met our employees, and clearly saw what EmployeeScreenIQ is about. As a team that truly cares about the end product our clients receive, we are committed to the “No Shortcuts” philosophy, meaning that we do not compromise quality for a faster turnaround time.

No ShortcutsSometimes our high standards mean that a client isn’t the best fit for us or vice versa. However, we have a commitment to excellence and a passion for what we do.

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For quite some time now, I’ve felt the organizations that support the formerly incarcerated have done a disservice to ex-offenders when it comes to their stance on employment background checks.  Rather than educating ex-offenders about the reality of criminal background checks and how to prepare for the tough questions from employers that are sure to come and educating employers about the benefits of hiring ex-offenders, organizations such as The National Employment Law Project (NELP) and the National Consumer Law Center (NCLC) have spent far too much time focusing on what they can do to eliminate the practice altogether.

In doing so, they continually point to statistics that they should know are misleading.  The best example of this is NELP’s assertion that the 65 million Americans with criminal records are unemployable due to their convictions.  If this were true, employers wouldn’t be able to hire anyone.  EmployeeScreenIQ data shows that less than 10% of those with criminal records are actually eliminated from employment when a background check reveals a conviction.  Based on our experience, the number of unemployed ex-offenders is widely exaggerated.

I don’t pretend to ignore the fact that some employers have enacted unfair hiring criteria when it comes to those with criminal records, but it is important to acknowledge the public safety and risk management benefits society receives as a result of this practice.

Here are my top 3 strategies to really promote re-entry into the workplace

1. They need to spend time educating ex-offenders about what they can do to prepare themselves for the process.  U.S. News and World Report columnist, Jada Graves recently wrote what I consider to be the best career advice geared towards those with criminal records I have seen.  It doesn’t sugar coat the issue and provides candidates a simple road map to follow.  It encourages candidates to set reasonable expectations for the jobs that might be out there, cautions them not to lie about their past and suggests that they study their consumer rights.  If you haven’t read this article yet, I would encourage you to do so.  To me, this should be required reading for all ex-offenders and the organizations that support them and should be used to develop training and assistance programs.

2. Rather than focus on misleading information such as the example I showed above, run with the issue that allows you to take the high ground:  Accuracy.  Every time I read Broken Records: How Errors by Criminal Background Checking Companies Harm Workers and Businesses, a study conducted by the NCLC I find myself applauding their efforts to highlight their concerns over inaccurate background checks, while at the same time cringing over their gross over-generalizations about the fact that all background screening companies knowingly report unverified data.  The NCLC highlights instances of reporting false positives, sealed or expunged information, multiple ledgers for the same offense, etc.  Unfortunately, there are some companies that routinely engage in these practices but they are the exception, not the rule.  I strongly support their efforts to hold those offenders accountable for failing to adopt reasonable procedures to avoid inaccurate information.  That’s a real problem and is unfair to anyone who has fallen victim to inaccurate data; ex-offender or not.  But let’s not paint the picture that all background screening companies have no regard for accuracy.

3. Develop studies that highlight the benefits of hiring ex-offenders.  To be sure, not everyone with a criminal record will qualify for every job, but show employers what they might gain by taking a chance.  Looking at retention rates, recidivism, tax credits, etc.  If groups like NELP and NCLC would work hand in hand with the employer community, they would accomplish so much more for their constituents than they do by waging war on background checks.

By taking these steps, I think that ex-offender advocacy stands a much better chance of making a real impact on the lives of those with criminal records and being a reliable voice in the eyes of the public and the media.

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Employment Background Screening

As an HR professional, we know that managing your day-to-day responsibilities is not always a piece of cake. Whether it’s drama in the workplace, recruiting and hiring candidates, or handling employment background checks, there are endless challenges you may encounter throughout the day.

And we also understand that it can be a struggle to keep up with all of the challenges related to employment background screening. And it’s for this reason that we not only want, but need your help in our 5th Annual Employment Background Screening Trends Survey. Your story is one of many, but your story is also crucial to the bigger picture in our 2014 Employment Background Screening Trends Report.

3 Reasons Your Story Matters

1. We’re seeking perspectives from a wide array of HR professionals—from every industry, experience level, and company size–we want to hear your story!

2. Your peers will benefit from your input and vice versa—by sharing your experience in our survey, we will create our 2014 Employment Background Screening Trends Report, which will reveal valuable information on topics ranging from criminal background checks, compliance, employment verifications, credit checks, screening candidates on social media, in addition to other background screening trends.

3. Your voice makes a difference beyond the HR industry–Last year, we received a response from nearly 1,000 HR professionals. For just one example of the media response to our 2013 survey, check out this USA Today article. We hope our 2014 Trends Report will be a powerful influence again in 2014, but we need your response to make this happen.

Employment Screening Trends Survey

Time is running out—our survey will only be available for a short time, so take the survey TODAY (it only takes about 10 minutes) and share with your HR peers so that we can hear as many stories as possible. Oh, and along with providing your valuable opinion, you can enter to win one of two $250 American Express gift cards.

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Here’s a scenario for all you human resource professionals out there.  Let’s just say that most job candidates made their Facebook profiles public.  Let’s say that most employers checked their job candidates’ Facebook profiles and used it as the only tool to determine whether that person would be a good employee.  Would you be surprised if I told you that this practice didn’t lead to better, more qualified hires?

No.  Me neither.  Now what if I gave you a crystal ball?  Do you think your success rate would be about the same?

A recent study from researchers at Florida State University, Old Dominion University, Clemson University and Accenture sought to confirm the assumption that Facebook wasn’t a good hiring tool.  They could have just saved the time and money and just asked me (but I digress).

In a surprise to exactly no one, the study revealed that, indeed, using Facebook as the sole determinant in a hiring decision was not a good idea.

According to the study, “involved the recruitment of 416 college students from a southeastern state school who were applying for full-time jobs and agreed to let the researchers capture screenshots of their Facebook Walls, Info Pages, Photos and Interests. The researchers asked 86 recruiters who attended the university’s career fair to review the Facebook pages, judge the fresh-faced seniors’ personality traits and rate how employable they seemed. Each recruiter looked at just five of the candidates, and got no other information about them (such as a resume or transcript). A year later, the researchers followed up with the now-graduates’ supervisors and asked them to review their job performance.”

Those that were rated the lowest by employers were those with posts that contained profanity, sexual references, pictures of intoxicated individuals, etc.  Also concerning, were the low ratings of non-whites.  I couldn’t sum up the findings better myself so I thought I’d offer this quote from Chad H. Van Iddekinge, one of the researchers from Florida State:

“Recruiter ratings of Facebook profiles correlate essentially zero with job performance.” 

Why Does the Study Matter?

Personally, I don’t think the study does matter.  In order for it to be relevant, you’d have to believe in the make believe assumptions I asked you to consider above.  Most people do not have public Facebook profiles and most employers aren’t looking there any way, let alone that no one would ever use this as the only tool to determine hiring eligibility and future success.

Now, swap out LinkedIn for Facebook and I would love to see the results of that one.  While I don’t think employers only rely upon LinkedIn for recruiting, I do think it’s more prevalent.  Plus, it’s more geared toward professional use then any other widely utilized network.

I am, however concerned about the information shared about race. Unfortunately, we live in a society where people have their own personal biases.  In most cases, these biases are subtle and we don’t think that they factor in our decisions, but they do.  In past blog posts about the use of social media background checks, we’ve encouraged those that engage in the practice to have one person gather the information, highlight adverse findings and pass it on to a decision maker who is not privy to protected class information.

A Well Rounded Search

While the study proves that Facebook alone is not a good indicator of job performance, I think it would be wrong to dismiss it, or more importantly, dismiss the value of a social media search to find, screen and hire new talent. These searches can be extremely valuable when blended with more traditional hiring practices; interviewing, assessment testing, employment background checks, etc.  Now, perhaps someone could commission a study that incorporates all of those elements in their research —–  Oh that’s right, there’s no need to waste the time and money.  We know that works, but if you want to pay me to conduct that study . . .

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With a new year just around the corner, there’s no better way to move forward than to reflect on the events, challenges, and growth of the past year. Particularly for the background screening industry and HR professionals, it’s essential to learn from these stories to prepare for the challenges ahead in 2014. Some of our top stories include the misuse of employment background checks, the ban the box movement, and screening candidates on social media. Keep the lessons in these stories under consideration as you move forward with your background screening program in 2014.

EmployeeScreenIQ's Top Background Screening Stories 2013

1. EEOC Targets Dollar General and BMW for Criminal Background Checks

The EEOC continued its crusade to fight discrimination by way of litigation against Dollar General and BMW. Take a closer look at the claims and what employers need to know. Read More

2. Texas Takes on the EEOC: The Case You’ve Been Waiting For

Texas is took on the EEOC claiming that the latest guidelines unlawfully limit the ability of employers to exclude convicted felons from employment. Read More

3. Cha-Ching! K-Mart to Pay $3 Million to Settle Background Check Claims

Charged with background screening violations in relation to adverse action notifications, employers need to be increasingly aware of compliance risks in 2014. Read More


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Data Brokers

Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) blasted data brokers in a Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation hearing held on December 18, 2013. Witnesses were questioned on the practices of data brokers as the committee explored the need for more oversight, including new laws to govern and regulate the activity of businesses that aggregate and sell information about consumers for marketing purposes. The hearing followed the release of a scathing report by the committee’s Office of Oversight and Investigation.

The report, which can be found here, reaches a troubling conclusion that data brokers operate under a veil of secrecy, collecting large volumes of detailed information about hundreds of millions of consumers, identifying those who may be financially vulnerable, and allowing businesses to target products and services through tailored outreach both off and online.


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Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren has introduced a bill that will effectively bar employers from conducting credit checks on potential job candidates as part of the employment background screening process.  The proposed “Equal Opportunity for All” Act would make credit checks illegal in many cases except in specific areas such as national security.

Now let me be the first to say that this bill doesn’t stand a snowball’s chance in H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks and I thought it would be good to highlight 6 ideas as to why. [...]

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Accreditation is more than a label or fancy term, and particularly for a background screening company, being accredited speaks volumes for the company’s services and standards. While many companies are affiliated with the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS), only a few of all background screening providers are accredited by this organization (less than 2% of all background screening companies.) Find out from our background screening experts why some providers choose to become accredited, while others don’t, and why NAPBS accreditation should be important to employers when choosing a background screening provider.

It’s likely that you’ve seen several background screening providers advertising accreditation with NAPBS. But what does it really mean?

What You Should Know About Accreditation

  • Affiliation is not equal to accreditation
  • Accredited companies are held to standards in areas like data security, compliance, and truth in advertising–all of which are determined by an evaluation by an independent verification auditor
  • Becoming accredited takes a few months for background screening providers
  • Companies that are accredited commit to verifying that they are exercising best practices
  • Indicates to employers that the provider has a neutral 3rd party seal of approval
  • Candidates can feel secure that their personal information is protected by an accredited background screening company
  • Accreditation is not a one-time process—companies are audited on a regular basis and standards can change
  • The background screening provider must receive 100% on their evaluation

Watch the video above for more information on this topic.

Related EmployeeScreenIQ Content

Quick Takes is a video series blending together bits of experience and expertise from EmployeeScreenIQ’s background screening experts. With a newsroom feel, discussions surround the latest issues in the background screening industry. All of the videos were filmed unscripted-giving you the opportunity to hear genuine responses from the professionals. Topics range from social media background checks to conducting a thorough criminal records search. We’re releasing a new video every month, so stay tuned.

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