New and expanding legislation combined with COVID-19-related shifts in the labor market will present new hiring and talent management challenges in 2021. Corporate Screening’s Matt Jaye discusses a fresh approach, trends to watch and what employers can do to stay ahead of the curve.
Though 2020 is behind us, the events of the previous year will have lasting effects in 2021. The continuing COVID-19 pandemic, a new presidential administration and an uncertain economy will impact how organizations hire and manage talent. Technology solutions will create new opportunities for remote hiring, and a stressed health care system will continue to be challenged by a persistent talent shortage. It will also be critical to navigate an ever-changing legal and compliance landscape, which will ultimately require new strategies for screening and selecting talent.
As you pursue organizational growth plans and seek new talent in 2021, it will be essential to shape hiring and background screening activities around emerging best practices and the latest talent management trends.
Here are the top trends you can expect to impact how you screen and hire talent in 2021:
1. Continued Remote Hiring
COVID-19 sent a record number of employees to work from home and drastically changed how organizations hire. HR consultancy Robert Half found that among nearly 3,000 surveyed senior executives, 53 percent said they hired remotely during the pandemic. Given the likelihood that many positions will remain remote, the need to hire talent from any location will continue in 2021.
As a core element of the hiring process, background screening will remain an essential tool to help organizations avoid making risky hires. Thanks to modern background screening technology, background checks can be conducted efficiently for remote hires and rehires alike. By rescreening employees returning from an extended leave or COVID-19-related workforce reduction, you can manage talent management risks and learn about any new criminal activity or professional license sanctions affecting employees’ rehire eligibility.
To attract, screen and onboard candidates successfully from anywhere, take the following actions:
- Leverage new technology and processes for remote hiring and onboarding.
- Rescreen employees who are returning to work after an extended absence.
- Manage ongoing hiring risk by extending background screening to the contingent workforce, including contractors, temporary staff and volunteers.
2. Expansion of Laws Affecting the Hiring and Screening Process
As anyone involved in talent acquisition can attest, the hiring process is impacted by a range of laws aimed at keeping the hiring process fair and consistent. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Civil Rights Act and the Equal Pay Act are just a few of the federal laws affecting the candidate selection process. But there are also several state and local laws that employers must navigate to manage hiring risk and meet compliance obligations. The key laws you can expect to impact hiring activities in 2021 include the following:
“Ban the Box” Laws
Ban-the-box legislation prohibits employers from asking questions about a candidate’s criminal history or conducting a criminal background check, in many cases, until after a job offer has been extended. These laws have, so far, been passed in 35 states and hundreds of local municipalities. Others will follow. In 2021, ban-the-box laws will become effective in Georgia and Washington. Later in the year, the Fair Chance to Compete for Jobs Act, covering all federal agencies and contractors, will go into effect.
Salary History Bans
Salary history bans aim to increase pay equity in the workplace by prohibiting employers from asking candidates about their current or previous compensation. Nineteen states and 21 localities have implemented salary history bans, and more are likely to follow. Colorado’s Equal Pay for Equal Work Act went into effect as recently as January 2021.
The continuing trend to legalize marijuana for medicinal or recreational use will spur organizations to revisit existing drug screening practices. In January 2021, New Jersey joined 30 other states that have legalized marijuana. States such as New York, Connecticut and Virginia are expected to pass laws later in 2021.
Just as new laws come onto the books, city and county laws within the same state can conflict with each other, making it essential to stay informed about applicable laws in every location where you hire. An experienced and reputable background screening company can help by monitoring the compliance landscape on your behalf and offering guidance to help you proactively update your hiring and screening practices where necessary.
3. Increased Importance of the Candidate Experience
While 2020 saw many employers pursue layoffs or furloughs, employment levels will likely recover in 2021. The latest outlook from the Federal Reserve projects modest economic growth in 2021, a fall in unemployment and a return to pre-pandemic unemployment levels no later than 2023.
As the coronavirus vaccine is distributed and hiring activity resumes in a stronger economy, the candidate experience will continue to be a critical differentiator in the battle for talent. By taking the following steps, you can keep candidates engaged from the moment they learn about your organization to the end of the hiring process:
- Showcase company culture and highlight job opportunities through effective employer branding.
- Integrate background screening technology with the applicant tracking system (ATS), which cuts down on double entry and keeps the background check moving smoothly for candidates.
- Help candidates transition to employees via a robust onboarding process.
4. Advances in Background Screening Technology
Given the need to protect the workplace from “bad actors” who would cause harm to patients, customers, visitors or other employees, background screening remains as important as ever. Advances in background screening technology will provide more timely access to candidate background information, helping you make better-informed hiring decisions. The following screening solutions and features are now available:
- New tools for remote candidate screening, including e-disclosure and authorization processes, paperless drug screening and electronic I-9 services
- Cost-efficient solutions for continuous workforce monitoring, particularly for health care employers who require up-to-the-minute notifications of employment sanctions among the workforce
- Customizable background-check services to help quickly rescreen employees returning to work after an extended leave or furlough