Authored By W.Barry Nixon, SHRM- CMP
Despite more than 90 percent of all businesses and organizations conducting some sort of pre-employment background check, Infinity Screening (also called continuous screening, reoccurring screening and post hire screening) is causing changes within the screening industry. This process includes conducting background checks on current employees on a periodic or on-going basis to stay informed about life changes that could create increased risk for organizations.
The term infinity screening has been around since 2006, when technology allowed for companies to conduct on-going or reoccurring screening. HireRight reported in 2015 that 46 percent of their survey respondents were conducting re-occurring background checks, up from 32 percent from 2014.
Infinity screening has become more and more popular because employees are realizing that pre-hire detection of problem behavior isn’t enough to thoroughly understand the risk employees may pose for their business. These risks include theft, embezzlement, identify theft, industrial espionage, data breaches, reputation damage and workplace violence.
Using personnel risk assessment technology in a continuous screening model, organizations now are able to evaluate risk post-hire as life events and identity data evolves. Technology also helps organizations visualize threats and prioritize based on various factors. For instance, the transportation industry may weigh a DUI as a greater risk than the finance industry.
One company that once performed an initial background check and followed up with checks every three years after, began continuously checking public records for everything from DUIs to bankruptcies. The company now is alerted when a worker is arrested or convicted for something that would trigger a concern for the employer. Alerts identified three workers who had died, uncovered a first-degree murder conviction for one worker and exonerated another who was a victim of identity theft.
Acme XYZ company wanted to address the following concerns regarding its screening process: It is bound to standards based on the DHS, TSA, FCRA and EEOC; it is required to conduct pre- and re-screening upon every three-year anniversary of more than 30,000 employees; the current background screening requirements do not provide consistent, timely and accurate risk assessments for each employee; and its policy requiring employees to self-report violations of their policies or significant life events is ineffective.
During a three-month trial of a continuous monitoring service, more than 800 identify thefts were identified, 24 of which had the potential to disqualify the noted persons from employment. Other findings included possession of stolen property, intent to sell drugs, assault 1st degree, and multiple sexual offenses. The level of risk was dependent upon the nature of work and sensitivity of the job performed, but the monitoring allowed the employer to make better-informed decisions.
Employers should understand that using continuous screening does not equate to automatic termination, but rather should be used as a tool to highlight possible threats within the workplace. An individual assessment can help further investigate the findings.