As more people join the gig economy and employers add more contingent workers to their resourcing mix, being able to onboard new employees quickly has become a pressing need.
But, at the same time, you don’t want to lose the rigour of the background checking that’s required for full-time employees – in fact, it’s standard practice to treat temporary workers in the same way as permanent hires during the onboarding process. This means that, as an employer, you need an onboarding solution that’s fast and flexible, but that still ensures that all the necessary checks are carried out properly, efficiently and fairly.
Contingent workers are everyone from traditional temps and agency workers, and newer types of gig and zero-hours employees, through to higher-paid consultants and independent contractors. And they now represent a sizeable proportion of the workforce, their numbers growing fast. Before Covid-19, 5 million people in the UK identified as self-employed1. In 2014, about 15% of the global labour force were categorised as contingent workers, increasing to 20% by 20172. And in 2018 there was a 31% year-on-year increase in the number of freelancers in the UK3.
These increases are being driven by employers and employees, who both want the flexibility that contingency working brings. A recent survey found that 83% of executives preferred contingent workers4, who are desirable to employers not just in low level roles such as cashiers and cleaners but also in specialist tasks. In a recent World Economic Forum Future of Jobs report, 41% of employers said they planned to use more contingent workers for specialist tasks5. Meanwhile, some employees are choosing to work part time or on contracts to enjoy a more flexible lifestyle, because they can earn more or because they no longer see full-time work as secure6.
This creates challenges and risks for employers, including in the onboarding and background checking processes. In particular, both contingent workers and their hirers are demanding speedy on- and off-boarding. Job seekers are frustrated by extensive documentation requirements and see background checking as a roadblock as they move from short-term role to short-term role. Employers need contingent workers to get up to speed and productive as quickly as possible, particularly if they are being hired as part of an on-demand, flexible workforce strategy.
At the same time, full-time employees are also demanding a fast and smooth onboarding process, with less onerous requirements for documentation. Everyone is influenced by the consumer digital experiences that they have on platforms such as Netflix and Amazon, and they expect the same level of convenience and speed when they start a new job.
But the need for proper background checks hasn’t gone away. If anything, with the rise of cyber-crime and the reputational risk posed by employee misbehaviour in this digital age, it’s increasing. Regulations require that contingent workers go through the same background checks as their full-time colleagues. This is consistent with a global trend of harmonising part- and full-time employees’ rights. Canada, Australia, Ireland, the EU, the UK, Finland, Russia, the Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, France and Romania are proposing, or are already making, policy changes in this regard7.
And as contingent workers take on specialised and sensitive tasks, with direct access to customers and sensitive information, it’s in employers’ interests to check their backgrounds rigorously.
So, employers need to meet this pressure to speed up the background-checking process while maintaining the rigour of traditional checks. This is no simple task, and requires deep industry expertise and experience, as well as cutting-edge technology.
At Capita, we have more than 35 years’ experience of background checking. Our Security Watchdog business is the UK’s leader in smart employment screening solutions, the largest supplier of EMEA background checks and the trusted screening partner of clients across the globe. Our automated digital platform transforms screening and onboarding into an opportunity to engage, equip and retain a high-performance workforce, enhancing your reputation as an employer, protecting your business from risk better and ensuring that new joiners fit into the team from day one – no matter what their employment status.
Capita Onboard with integrated background checking allows you to check contingent and full-time workers’ backgrounds faster, without sacrificing quality and accuracy.