If the recent trends are anything to go by, rather than a damage control measure, background screening will become a cerebral part of human resources policy in India. The rise in workplace violence, as demonstrated last year at the Maruti-Suzuki Manesar plant, which was one of the several such incidences the auto giant has seen in its workplace and factories, or the killing of the tea plantation manager by the workers in Assam, has prompted the companies to conduct background checks on blue-collared workers too. To this end, the automobile company has started verifying the educational credentials, alongside criminal verification, of the workers prior to their hiring.
These measures, however, remain reactionary in nature, meaning that they were undertaken after the damage had already been done. Background screening on blue-collared workers still remains an outlier in the trend as most companies are of the opinion that background screening ought to be conducted on top executives. While big corporations and conglomerates actively enforce background screening at all levels of their workplace, mid to small-sized firms, including the start-ups, find it much harder to have a proper background screening system in place as the cost of having it takes away a portion of companyâ€™s resources. So what possible measures could be suggested to make background screening a more affordable process for every organisation regardless of its size?
Sectors such as healthcare, pharmaceuticals, real estate, tourism and hospitality are, according to many surveys, the most vulnerable to employee fraud, ranging from candidates bloating their resumes, faking their addresses and educational degrees, etc. Companies working in such sectors are finding it increasingly necessary to have a robust background screening policy in place. However, the question of cost remains an overarching one.
The emergence of web portals offering background screening as an added option might just be the way of the future. A centralised database that keeps criminal records of individuals, among other records vital for a background check, will come across as affordable for many organisations. Home-grown companies offering cloud-based database storage facilities are making the concept of online database turn into reality. Such databases, however, are still in their infancy stage and limited in their features to fulfil all the aspects of a typical background screening operation. Therefore, at the moment, we have job portals verifying a candidateâ€™s resume and some matrimonial websites offering generalised reports. There still remains elusive a centralised database offering 360 degree view of a candidate. Once implemented, such database, when at its top functionality, will prove to be effective as it will provide a comprehensive background screening report with a few clicks of the mouse button. This will ensure that the waiting time to hire or disregard a candidate becomes almost negligible.
Such measures also bring with them their own set of caveats. The hiring manager might come across information that might be discriminatory towards the candidate, or which puts the candidate in an unfavourable light. The manager must view such information with the grain of salt. A minor infraction of the candidate must be contrasted with the overall value they bring to the workplace*. Until the time arrives when the police and courthouses coordinate with the private organisations maintaining the databases, the accuracy of the information might just be compromised or become out-of-date.
What we have described above is very much a work in progress, but a step in the right direction for an ethical background screening which will be beneficial as well as affordable to one and all.
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