For many years, analysts at places like SHRM, HR Technologist, and Forbes have been discussing and evaluating real-time continuous monitoring such as the Continuous Criminal Monitoring solution from SJV Data Solutions. Now we can add Security Magazine to that distinguished list. The respected observer of security trends recently wrote a piece on the state of the industry: “Continuous Monitoring of Employees Gaining Traction. ” Since Vince, Scott, and myself were all consulted and quoted in the article, we wanted to share their analysis — and a little extra of our own — on this blog as well.
With the technology only recently maturing to a place to allow for true real-time monitoring, this is a new product class in a background screening industry searching for innovation to keep pace with social and workplace trends.
As such, industry adoption is still catching up with technology. Many end-users understand and appreciate the value. But, the decision to implement is a more complex one. The conversation to add continuous monitoring involves stakeholders from HR, risk, security, and compliance, among others.
But the coming year is the time for smart Consumer Reporting Agencies (CRAs) to establish a beachhead in continuous criminal monitoring. The number of companies offering true real-time monitoring is in the single digits. For those of you that work in highly-regulated industries with steep penalties for employee criminality — like financial services, healthcare, education, transportation — now is the time to be the first-mover; to get ahead of the wave as those industries transition. The same goes for those that service industries that deal with vulnerable populations in an intimate setting, like home healthcare workers, child care, and the gig economy.
The Moral Case
This was touched on briefly in the full article, but it’s something we’ve also spoken about in our own podcasts and writing: the moral case for this service. We thought this is a good opportunity to expand on this with additional information.
Right or wrong, American employers operate in a country where felons have their work cut out for them. I don’t need to tell you how hard it is for the formerly-incarcerated to obtain employment, receive loans, or otherwise try to live a normal life similar to those that have never been imprisoned. It’s hard.
But the trends in the criminal justice industry are clearly tracking in one direction: to make this easier. This effectively shifts more of the burden to ensure safety on to employers. Early-release programs are adding more ex-prisoners to the population at large than ever. Ban the box initiatives have already been passed in many states, and there will likely come a time when the practice is banned nationwide. And criminal justice lawyers and activists have pushed for the expungement of criminal records, particularly for non-violent drug offenses.
The unknown, of course, will be how employers respond to these trends and the level of exposure they create. Will they follow suit and adopt progressive hiring approaches to candidates that have been inside the criminal justice system? Or will they operate from a place of fear and risk-aversion?
Continuous monitoring can help reassure employers that are on the fence. By being able to receive real-time updates, employers can be more comfortable hiring those with criminal records. Continuous monitoring mitigates employer’s risk and allows risk-averse employers to take chances on candidates they would have normally disqualified immediately.
Which is a good thing, as SHRM learned in a recent study: of employers that hired employees that had a prior criminal record, two-thirds of HR managers “think their quality of work is as high as or higher than the work of employees who don't have a criminal record.”
Doing It the Right Way
Compliance is a big question on everyone’s minds. This was the largest section of the Security Magazine article, and for good reason: this technology is a new frontier.
They consulted with Pamela Devata, a partner at Seyfarth Shaw LLP who heads the law firm’s Background Screening Compliance and Litigation Defense team.
Here is some quick advice from the article:
- Have a permissible purpose. If your company is subject to the Fair Credit Reporting Act ( FCRA), then you need a “permissible purpose” for monitoring. Luckily this is unlikely an obstacle, as permissible purposes include things like hiring, promotion, reassignment, and retention.
- Understand your state laws. What you’re authorized to do can vary from state to state, and unfortunately can also be a little ambiguous.
- Be precise. Make sure that you’re doing matching based on multiple points of data (such as name, DOB, social security number, etc.) to ensure you’re looking at accurate data rather than a false match. Alerts should also be relevant to the duties of the employee. It’s relevant that a delivery driver got a DUI, but maybe not an accountant.
- Be patient. The data you receive is truly real-time, but that doesn’t mean your response has to be. Things change. A charge today may be dropped tomorrow, or downgraded. Weigh the risk to your company against the harm to the employee that is incurred through an adverse employment decision.
- Be transparent. Have clear and consistent policies about how you monitor, what you monitor, and how you may respond to alerts. And yes, this means you may need to update your employee manual.
Want to learn more about continuous monitoring?
Continuous monitoring is the future of this industry, and the future is now. Continuous monitoring will allow CRAs to differentiate themselves, add subscription revenue models to your existing revenue streams, and will help CRAs improve margins and profitability rather than continuing in a race towards bottom-barrel pricing.
Learn more about it in our ebook: