Inflation in the Background Screening Industry: How to Keep Costs in Line

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By: Julie Henderson, Chief Revenue Officer for Data Facts

You can’t turn on the news without hearing about inflation. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers increased by 9.1% from June 2021 to June 2022. This is the largest increase in 40 years.

Price increases affect everything we buy, and it isn’t limited to our personal spending. Companies are seeing dramatic across-the-board increases in goods and services necessary to run a business.

Higher prices negatively affect organizations in a variety of ways, including:

  • Chipping away at their buying power
  • Hindering the ability to scale
  • Making it difficult to implement technology and other investments that pay off long-term
  • Eroding profits

Rising prices impact a company’s hiring and background screening endeavors. Bringing on new hires costs more than it did just last year. The increased wages of employees involved in the hiring process and the increased cost of the background check products needed to screen the applicants add up to a steeper cost-to-hire with every new team member.

With rising prices, HR must get creative in their hiring processes.

Here are three ways organizations can pivot with their background screening practices and save money without sacrificing the quality or accuracy of their background checks.

Operational Optimizations

The first way to mitigate the effect of rising prices is to put your operational processes under a magnifying glass. Is any part of it wasteful, redundant, or unnecessary? Remove, reduce, or redo them.

Using a progressive screening approach is one way of reducing total background screening costs.

HR professionals trying to fill open positions often have at least one hard-and-fast requirement for job candidates. Perhaps it’s a degree, a certain number of years’ worth of experience, or a clean driving record. The premise of progressive screening is to use these requirements to the employer’s advantage during the background screening process by screening for those attributes first.

Progressive screening gives employers a way to eliminate unqualified candidates earlier in the process. By spending less on each candidate’s background check, companies save money and focus their resources on viable candidates.

Consumer Permissioned Data

The prevalence of big data has made it possible to use consumer permissioned data to accomplish objectives that weren’t possible in the past.

Equifax defines consumer permissioned data as “transactional and account-level information that a consumer gives a business permission to access on their behalf. In return, consumer-permissioned data empowers individuals to leverage their financial data to apply for loans and other services.”

Data that consumers generate online is housed digitally, making it easy (and cost-effective) for employers to use it in their background checks.

Using consumer permissioned data for screening your job candidates is a new but effective practice that we expect to gain popularity. By acquiring a candidate’s authorization, your background screening vendor can often skip the “middleman” that drives up costs. This practice can successfully counterbalance the impact inflation has had on prices.

Instant Oral Drug Tests

Drug screening is a commonplace part of an organization’s background check process. After all, having a drug-abusing employee on the payroll can cause lots of trouble and be expensive for a company.

Using an instant oral testing product is a fraction of the cost of lab-based drug tests. Another advantage to instant screening products is they’re quick. You’ll have an answer in minutes, unlike the days it takes to get off-site drug test results returned. Instant oral testing is especially helpful when HR is trying to fill a position quickly, or the candidate is entertaining multiple offers.

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