Fortune magazine has predicted that 2023 will be the ‘year of the digital assassin’. Rescreening employees to mitigate against the risks of reputational and financial damage is a useful tactic, advises Peter Cleverton.
The proliferation of social media and online news make it crucial for a business to have confidence in its workforce to positively represent it and protect its brand.
In fact, a recent article in Fortune predicted that 2023 could be the “year of digital assassination”, where disgruntled current or former employees carry out cyberattacks from within the company.
A company’s reputation could become tarnished by the actions of just one bad apple, so it is wise to be vigilant to the risks of your existing workforce and take steps to mitigate these risks. We screen people when they join a company, so why not ‘rescreen’ to mitigate ongoing workforce risk?
While most employers already have pre-employment background screening programmes in place to verify the information provided by their candidates during the initial application process, certain facets of an individual’s track record could change over time – and this is something many businesses are not currently checking for.
In industries such as financial services or healthcare, annual or periodic rescreening may be a legal or regulatory requirement for individuals to keep their jobs – and for employers to stay compliant.
However, many businesses from a wide range of other industries also conduct employee rescreening and consider it a best practice.
Whether rescreening is required or voluntary, it is important that the checks covered during an employee rescreen are proportionate to their role, the requirements of their job, and the potential risks associated with it.
Rescreening checks are typically re-checks of information verified pre-hire, involving information that may have changed during an individual’s period of employment.
Companies with a low risk tolerance may rescreen all their employees annually, to help minimise their employment risk as much as possible. However, other businesses may only rescreen certain high-risk positions, such as those with access to customer data or financial records.
Differing risk profiles
There is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to rescreening, and each company may have different risks – which could be role-specific or company-wide – they are most concerned with regarding their existing workforce.
For executives or those in public-facing roles, a business may be most concerned with their online activity, and whether these individuals have had any negative media coverage or have been posting anything potentially brand-damaging from their social media profiles.
Post-hire adverse media and social media searches could help to address these concerns.
For employees who are being promoted to more senior roles and may be granted access to highly sensitive material or financial information about the company, employers may wish to rescreen their criminal or financial integrity histories.
This could identify issues that may pose a potential threat to the company such as any recent criminal convictions for theft or sudden unexplained debts that could be red flags that require discussion with the individual before confirming a promotion.
Also, if a company is going through a merger or acquisition, it may be wise to consider rescreening the newly expanded workforce, to ensure that consistent screening standards are adhered to across the whole organisation.
Businesses often screen to different standards, and there is no guarantee that the acquired company’s pre-employment screening policy was as robust as yours.
Remote working trends
Our recent 15th Annual Benchmark Report found, perhaps unsurprisingly, that most businesses globally had some of their workforce working remotely in 2021 and 2022.
If a company is going through a merger or acquisition, it may be wise to consider rescreening the newly expanded workforce
In Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA), 54% of respondents said their company had over half of its workforce working remotely in some capacity in January 2022 – with just 12% saying they had no remote working in their company at this time.
With many employees no longer working from the office full-time, and new hires often being onboarded remotely, it can be more difficult for employers to identify any changes in their workforce that could pose additional risks to their businesses.
As such, organisations with remote or hybrid employees may find rescreening useful to help manage the risks of their remote workforce.
Businesses without an employee rescreening programme in place may be exposing themselves to potential reputational and financial risk by assuming that there will be no changes within their existing workforce post-hire that could pose a threat.
Adopting robust due diligence processes, such as employee rescreening, can help businesses to mitigate the ongoing risks of their current workforce, and provide greater confidence and trust in their employees.