The Importance of Background Checks for Security
You’ve heard it before: You’re only as strong as your weakest link. Your business has many moving parts, each of which could “fail” at any time. Part of your responsibility is to identify and mitigate those risks. One security risk you might overlook? Your employees. And that’s where background checks come in.
The Importance of Background Checks
Business security camera systems, mirrors, swipe cards, access control, and anonymous tip channels can provide a great deal of protection, but safeguarding your business should start well before an employee’s first shift. A solid security plan needs both external and internal protection.
- Three-quarters of workers admit to stealing from their employer at least once
- Employee theft costs American businesses roughly $50 billion annually, and it’s responsible for 33% of bankruptcies
- 90% of major theft loss is from employees
- 60% of employees say they would steal if they knew they wouldn’t get caught
- Finance, insurance, and healthcare are the top three industries for insider theft, but it occurs across all sectors
- Experts believe that American businesses lose $0.20 of every dollar to employee theft
If you’re not taking steps to reduce the risk of internal theft, you’re just waiting for it to happen. If it’s not already, that is. One way to reduce the risk is to conduct background checks on all prospective employees.
Maybe you’ve thought about using background checks before but were worried it would seem insulting to candidates. Maybe you have used some checks, but not others. Regardless, they should be a cornerstone of your hiring process.
When you hire someone, you’re putting a lot of trust in them. They become the face of your business and a key component of whether you ultimately succeed or fail. That’s no small thing.
However you “feel” about them, employee background checks are invaluable for businesses of all sizes. They ensure candidates are who they say they are, and that there are no glaring red flags in their past.
The Role of Background Checks
Every job is different, and so is every applicant. When looking to fill an available position, you scan resumes and ask questions during the interview to make sure the candidate has the skills, experience, and traits needed to excel in that role. But you should also check that they don’t have any that would put you in a vulnerable spot.
You probably wouldn’t hire a convicted bank robber as your new bank teller or an art thief as your nighttime museum patrol. An oversimplification, sure, but unless they volunteer the information, you won’t know without a background check.
Far from insulting, it’s simply due diligence. Your business and staff deserve it, to say nothing of those particular industries that require it. Teachers must submit to a background check before working with children, for example. So why would you trust a stranger with the combination to your office safe without confirming a few things first?
Employee background checks are the first step in:
- Protecting your business brand, image, and reputation
- Providing a safe and secure environment for staff, customers, and clients
- Mitigating potential threats, risks, and liabilities
- Confirming details shared on paper and in an interview
Without them, you’re crossing your fingers and hoping for the best.
The Legal Landscape
Background checks are, however, subject to regulations to protect privacy, data, and the individuals being screened.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is a federal law that governs the use of consumer reports in the hiring process. It protects both employers and employees. Likewise, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) oversees workplace situations like hiring, firing, and promotions to prevent discrimination, harassment, and retaliation.
As a business owner, you must comply with these and other state, federal, and industry-specific laws that pertain to hiring employees. And if you use a third-party service to conduct your checks, ensure that they’re in compliance, too. The onus is on you.
Finally, in order to avoid discrimination and bias—or even the appearance of discrimination and bias—it’s essential to use the same screening criteria for all applicants and limit it to only job-related factors. Standardize your background check process, document your hiring decisions, and protect yourself.
Types of Background Checks
You likely picture a criminal check when you think about background checks. And while that is part of it, it’s not the complete story.
An employee background check may—depending on the position—include:
- Criminal history
- Employment verification
- Reference check
- Education and credential verification
- Driving record
- Drug screening
- Credit report
- Social media activity
Once again, you’ll need to verify for yourself that you are allowed to check these things in your particular industry and state. Ignorance of the law is no protection if you violate it.
Social media screening is a controversial subject in some circles. Applicants may feel it’s not relevant to the job, but employers may think differently.
For example, say a candidate has a history of posting inflammatory or offensive content. This could impact your hiring decision, as it might go against your business mission statement or culture. That’s allowed. But not hiring someone because you discovered they voted for a different candidate than you or follow a different religion than you would obviously fall foul of discrimination laws.
How to Conduct an Employee Background Check
As mentioned above, start with a standard background check that you use for everyone (or everyone in that specific department or role). The steps may differ slightly, but a general process would include:
- Disclosure: Inform applicants that they will be subject to a background check.
- Consent: Applicants must provide written consent after being told their rights under FCRA, EEOC, and other laws.
- Research: Compile the report using legal and approved sources (either in-house or outsourced).
- Analysis and review: Are there any red flags? Potential liabilities? Events, convictions, or activities that would immediately disqualify them? Did they lie or omit anything?
Comprehensive background checks don’t just protect you from hiring the wrong candidate. They can also help you hire the right one.
Background checks shouldn’t be a one-and-done situation. Ongoing checks and periodic re-screenings for existing staff keep everything above board and everyone honest.
This is especially important as it relates to promotions and transfers. Just because someone passed their check for a certain position doesn’t automatically mean they would again for another position or location. So check.
By integrating background checks and re-checks into your business culture, you promote security and demonstrate trust to your employees, customers, vendors, and more. Meticulously vetting employees helps you mitigate potential risks, protect your company’s reputation, and ensure a safe work environment for everyone.
Lay the Foundation
The security of your business begins with fair and consistent background checks for all employees. But it shouldn’t stop there, of course. There are many parts to a business security plan, such as security training, access control, security cameras, and alarms.
Deep Sentinel is proud to provide companies in retail, construction, cannabis, warehousing, automotive, food service, building management, and more with our industry-leading business security solution. It’s the only security option that includes wireless or PoE cameras, advanced AI, and real-time professional intervention from live guards.
False alarms? They’re a relic of the past. Deep Sentinel guards take action as a situation unfolds via 2-way audio and live video feed. And should things escalate, they notify the authorities of a verified crime in progress. And that elicits the fastest and highest priority response when every second counts.
Your business is more than just your livelihood. It’s a passion project. A lifetime goal. The culmination of blood, sweat, tears, and years of hard work. Doesn’t it deserve the best protection you can give it?
Begin with employee background checks. And end with Deep Sentinel.