Background Verification – Being Prepared

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A wild boar was rubbing his tusks against a tree.

A fox passing by asked him what he was doing.

“My tusks are my weapons,” said the boar. “I’m sharpening them.”

“Why waste time sharpening your weapons when there’s no danger in sight?” said the fox. “You’re being foolish.”

Just then a hunter appeared on the scene. Frightened by the boar’s sharpened tusks, he turned on the fox instead and shot him dead.

You have to be prepared; isn’t it!

Imagine a situation where the human resource department has to do bulk recruitment or just one recruitment but they have a strict time constraint. Within that time span they need to advertise, do initial screening, fix an interview and then complete the final HR round. After all these steps; there is one more step before handing over the offer letter and that is – background verification.

To get the work done on time and to fasten the process, these companies could hire a third party vender – companies that provide background verifications at a zooming speed. But then, apart from the time constraint, there is one more constraint the HR department faces and that is budget.

Now, background verification is a new addition to various recruitment steps. It still needs to get the importance – it holds. It is a step that – people usually take lightly. Considering own experience and the very important, face value, candidates are hired.

What happens when the initial preparation is not done properly?

News 1:
Shyam worked in Hewlett Packard’s (HP) Bangalore office for three years without any issues. And then, he quit. A few months later, Shankar joined the company and when he was in the canteen one day, some employees were surprised that he looked exactly like Shyam. Of course, Shankar denied any knowledge of Shyam. However, in the HR verification, it turned out that Shankar was indeed Shyam.

What transpired was that Shankar had failed to get his college degree. So, his girlfriend, who worked in the company, used her brother Shyam’s degree to get Shankar a job. In the course on three years, at the company, Shankar passed and got his own degree. So, he re-applied, this time with his own degree, and got in. This time with real identity.

18th aprilNews 2:
The Uber rape case in New Delhi has revealed the murky underbelly of slapdash background checks in India.

There are many more stories which tells us that we are not giving much time for preparation. And who is at the loss! Cost of background check for one employee is actually not a cost, it is the much needed preparation. A company’s goodwill is at stake! So, it high time we take background verification more seriously and are prepared! After all, you can’t buy back your goodwill, you can just earn it!

Be careful not to be penny wise, pound foolish – Invest in background screening!

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Blog ImageTake care of the pennies and the pounds will take care of themselves! Never have truer words been said. Sometimes we focus on the pennies we save; little realizing, cutting corners now, may cost us a lot more in due course of time. Well, that’s a lesson we all learn somewhere down the road.

Uber learnt this lesson the hard way, when they had to fire their Senior Vice President of Engineering, Amit Singhal. The aforementioned employee did not disclose the reason for him leaving Google in his application – sexual harassment charges were levied against him at Google. Infosys has terminated the employment of hundreds of employees due to discrepancies in their resumes. TCS has fired several employees when their resumes were found to be fudged. I’m already trying to approximately evaluate how much this must have cost these employers per candidate that they released.

Just last month, two startups faced a severe setback here in India. The founder of Viral fever’s sexual harassment charges came to light. The controversial shutdown of Stayzilla was in the news last month following the arrest of the co-founder and CEO. Both these startups were backed up by prestigious investor firms. Now, even investors will work out the due diligence before backing entrepreneurs.

We have to understand that carrying out background checks is not merely a routine HR practice but forms a significant part of pre-employment screening. This cannot be done by just anyone; it has to be entrusted to professionals who specialize in background screening. HR professionals often feel the need to get these checks done only for their permanent employees and probationers. Why leave out the trainees, fixed term contract staff, vendors, job contract workers, labor contract workers and others whom we work with.

I feel we don’t take these checks very seriously, as there is no statutory requirement of background screening in our Indian laws. However, the Indian association of professional background screeners lists the below mentioned checks to be carried out to authenticate the antecedents of a candidate:-

1. Address verification
2. Employment verification
3. Education verification
4. Reference checks
5. Global data base check
6. Criminal background check
7. Drug testing and
8. Credit checks

Did you know – the RBI issued notices to banks requiring them to conduct background checks of all the personnel recruited as dealers? The legal profession has also clearly stated in Section 24A of the Advocates Act, 1961 that no person shall be admitted as an advocate on a state roll if he is convicted of an offence involving moral turpitude.

Furthermore, background screening is mandatory for Indian companies to get an ISO 27001 certification. According to a study done by the US Small Business Administration, for every dollar an employer invests in employment screening, the return on investment ranges from $5-16, resulting from improved productivity, reduced absenteeism, lower turnover and decreased employer liability.

Generally, the most common reason among organizations for not conducting background checks is cost. However, the cost of background checks represents a fraction of the cost of – terminating an employee’s service, re-recruiting, re-hiring and re-training.

So let’s be penny wise and save our pounds! After all, a stitch in time saves nine

Employee Background Verification – Discrepancy Statistics for March 2017

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Here are the high level monthly discrepancy statistics for March 2017.

We observed that 1.7% of the overall number of cases had discrepancies (could be major or minor).
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Next, let us look at the breakup of the discrepancies to identify further which types of components (checks) were the source of these discrepancies. These discrepancies were in education and employment checks, with education and employment discrepancies accounting for 50% each of the total discrepancies.

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Time for a big Change – Aadhaar e-verification

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Long ago, people lived happily under the rule of a king. The people of the kingdom were very happy as they led a very prosperous life with an abundance of wealth and no misfortunes.

Once, the king decided to go visiting places of historical importance and pilgrim centres at distant places. He decided to travel by foot to interact with his people. People of distant places were very happy to have a conversation with their king. They were proud that their king had a kind heart.

After several weeks of travel, the king returned to the palace. He was quite happy that he had visited many pilgrim centres and witnessed his people leading a prosperous life. However, he had one regret.

He had intolerable pain in his feet as it was his first trip by foot covering a long distance. He complained to his ministers that the roads weren’t comfortable and that they were very stony. He could not tolerate the pain. He said that he was very worried about the people who had to walk along those roads as it would be painful for them too!
Considering all this, he ordered his servants to cover the roads in the whole country with leather so that the people of his kingdom can walk comfortably.

The king’s ministers were stunned to hear his order as it would mean that thousands of animals would have to be slaughtered in order to get sufficient quantity of leather. It would cost a huge amount of money also.
Finally, a wise man from the ministry came to the king and said that he had another idea. The king asked what the alternative was. The minister said, “Instead of covering the roads with leather, why don’t you just have a piece of leather cut in appropriate shape to cover your feet?”

The king was very surprised by his suggestion and applauded the wisdom of the minister. He ordered a pair of leather shoes for himself and requested all his countrymen also to wear shoes.

29th marchThere are few changes which are revolutionary in nature and happen for the good. Aadhaar card is one such initiative. In a country like India, where people belong to organized and unorganized sectors, are from rural and urban areas, there are many who don’t have a valid PAN card or passport. They don’t need it. They don’t pay taxes and for other things they need their ration cards. Ration card is not a valid address proof, which leaves just a permanent address or rent agreement. Many don’t have either.

In such a cases, having an Aadhaar card is a ray of hope – of having a genuine identity proof, for everyone, irrespective of age, gender, working class sector, financial sector or place one lives. It is mandatory for all.

At present, there are 105 crore registered people in the Aadhaar database. An, almost, instant validation of an individual, is a feather in the cap of Janta-khoj. Any individual can get their or their employees’ Aadhaar e-verification done, almost instantly. Be it a driver, a house help, a blue collar employee or a white collar employee or just a would-be groom, everyone can get verified instantly.

With Aadhaar, demographic and biometric details are attached. Going by a simple daily life example, if we need to hire a house help or a driver and they come with a valid Aadhaar card and specifies all her demographic details, it can be verified instantly through Aadhaar e-verification. Once the Aadhaar verification is successfully completed, they can be hired but if in any case, they commit any foul/fraud, we not only have their photo but also their demographic details with us, as we have their validated Aadhaar card number. Makes life easier and safer, isn’t it! So Aadhaar e-verification is a big change and it is here to stay! Let’s be safe and verified!

Another arrow in our quiver – Aadhaar e-verification

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The government of India embarked on an ambitious journey of delivering a grand project to the citizens of the country. The endeavour was of providing a unique identity to the residents of India. With more than a billion people already enrolled in the Central Identities Data Repository (CIDR) – Aadhaar is increasingly becoming a standard resident authentication and e-KYC. It has been touted as India’s biggest welfare legislation. Aadhaar number is to India what social security number is to the US.
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The government is already making Aadhaar a de facto resident identification means and has already made it essential for availing many of its services.

Aadhaar aims to give a 12-digit unique identity number to all the residents by collecting their fingerprint and iris scans. Our Aadhaar number is a unique 12-digit random number issued to the residents of India after adhering to the verification process laid down by the Authority. Any individual, irrespective of age and gender, who is a resident of India, may voluntarily enroll to obtain an Aadhaar number. I too patiently stood in the long queues when the process of issuance had commenced.

As of September 2017, its database, maintained by the Unique Identification Authority of India, held the names, addresses and biometric information of more than 105 crore people.

Today Aadhaar verification is proving to be a vital tool in the process of verification. In fact not only corporate but even individuals can avail of this instant service – Aadhaar e-verification. It can also be used for the domestic help segment (maids, cooks, drivers and guards). In fact Aadhaar verification can also be used to verify tutors, hobby teachers and gym instructors. We can verify almost any individual weather a corporate worker or a household worker based on his/her Aadhaar card number.

Technology enables us in so many varied ways; today you can instantly verify via e-verification with JantaKhoj InfoServices. The turnaround time for this service is instant. We instantly confirm the validity of the Aadhaar card details entered.

So, let’s put this new arrow in our quiver to good use; get your employees’ Aadhaar verification initiated!

Happy Women’s Day!

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Happy Women’s Day to all the wonderful ladies out there! Now, that women day has just passed, we all experienced the whole mega-celebration for the women we are! Few stores gave free vouchers/coupons, few gave free drinks and few gave one free lunch with four. Many companies gave flowers and gifts to the female employees and celebrated their womanhood.

There were many commercials which celebrated women in the most beautiful way. Few inspired us to take out time for ourselves; few captured how much work we put in everyday, in the best possible way. All were done marvelously! It made us, all women feel, that we truly are super-powered-women in our own ways.

Let’s get to the history of Women’s day celebration? Seeing all the arrangements made and the entire celebration, I felt the whole purpose of the day was lost!

fig1 15marchThe original aim of celebrating this day was – to achieve full gender equality for women of the world. Sadly, we talk about the gender equality but when it comes to pay-gaps, education, health and safety, there is a huge gap to be filled.

In education, according to National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) June 2015, shows the following:

Age Group Male Female
Up to Seven Years 83% 67%
Up to Graduation(In Rural Area) 4.5% 2.2%
Up to Graduation(In Urban Area) 17% 13%

Considering the gender pay gap in India, a new report shows the figure stands as high as 27%. The median gross hourly salary for both genders is as follows:

Male Female
Median Gross Salary Rs. 288.68/Hour Rs. 207.85/Hour

Considering crime against women in India, it is said that crime against women is reported every two minutes.

Not one day, but women have to fight for these three basic things every day. Of course, everything which has been celebrated is true, but we need to look beyond it and address the major issues too!

 

Employee Background Verification – Discrepancy Statistics for February 2017

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Here are the high level monthly discrepancy statistics for February 2017.
We observed that 3.8% of the overall number of cases had discrepancies (could be major or minor).

Case-Feb2017

Next, let us look at the breakup of the discrepancies to identify further which types of components (checks) were the source of these discrepancies. These discrepancies were in education and employment checks, with employment discrepancies being the most significant and accounting for 63.6% of all discrepancies.

Component-Feb2017

Three mega projects revisited – Aadhaar, NAD, CCTNS

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It was more than six years ago that we had published this blog covering the three mega projects which had the potential to tranform background verifications in India.

Let’s review the status of these projects.

Aadhaar is now a mainstream identity platform, which is being used in a wide variety of processes and applications. In fact, Aadhaar is one of the largest such platforms in the world and shows no signs of stopping in terms of enrollments and usages. We have also released our offering for Aadhaar verification.

National Academic Depository was put on high priority by the current government and has been launched. More universities and records are being added to it. We continue to stay tuned for its enrollment for background verification providers.

Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems has been an ongoing project for quite some time. The project status sheet indicates that the State Citizen Portals for the project has been launched in various states. Once again, we continue to stay tuned for its availability for background verification providers.

In summary, the three mega projects have done quite well and with the inclusion of Aadhaar as a unique key across the three projects, it will become possible to have a unified view across different types of background checks.

 

Human Resources in 2017

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The last part of the year-2016, when almost the entire nation was worried about – Who is going to be the next president of USA, a ‘zor ka jhatka’ was given by our PM – Demonetization. The whole nation was shocked. Every headline was about demonetization. Mr Prime Minister played his Trump-Card!

Apart from the usual havoc which stirred the nation completely, this demonetization had an effect on few sectors too. Sectors like manufacturing, E-commerce, IT/ITES, tourism, infrastructure and many more, or shall I just say, all the sectors.

One department, in all these sectors, which needs to take a step forward post demonetization is – the Human resources department.

Human resources has a mammoth role to play. There are a lot of changes which Human resources needs to implement/upgrade, post demonetization.

Talking about demonetization first, the whole motto behind this was digitalization or having a cashless economy. Even at this time, when go-green is one of the most talked about things, HR departments of many companies use paper-pen for documentation. Offer letters and appointment letters are still given out as hard copies, one signed copy with the HR and one with the employee. Even recognitions and awards are presented in writing. Can’t we just go completely digitalized?

28febThere are many software applications which can be used to monitor work and store the data in super organized ways. One software which is very popular is HRMS – Human Resource Management System or HRIS – Human Resource Information System. They can help in reducing the paper work and can enable an organization in completely getting digitalized.

Coming to the cash-less part: still a lot of companies pay the housekeeping staff, gardening staff or contract staff in cash. This practice is something which is still very common. Every employee of the organization should have their salary account. It would be beneficial for all of them.

Human resources needs to step up here and the get the whole process of digitalization, active and become cashless too.

Human resources doesn’t have to cater just to the above, rather they have a third issue in hand as well. The unseen effect of demonetization – fear and restlessness among employees. Report says that there is going to around 35% job loss within six months, as an effect of demonetization (holds true only for few sectors). This has created a stir among employees across all sectors. Everyone is scared of losing their job. HR has to again face this challenge of bringing the faith back, among employees. HR will have to convey the message that the job loss happens when the productivity is low; the company is working just fine, even post demonetization.
This can happen by sharing positive achievements of the organization through internet or by having a small day out or motivational training sessions.

Human resources has a lot in store for the entire 2017. Let’s get working!

India and its working culture

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A renowned company. An inspiring leader. A super motivational company story and then a murder.

The crime was committed on Sunday. Sunday evening.

The first and the foremost thing which comes to my mind is –

What was so urgent that a techie has to work on Sunday evening and can’t wait just for a night’s time?

Next –

What is use of all the technology advancement, use of internet or laptops, when in extreme emergency (which may occur), when we can’t even connect from our home or other convenient or safe location.

I have been in IT sector and unfortunately have been in a maintenance and enhancement project. My work used to start from 7:00 AM till late 7 or 8 PM. I succumbed to this schedule for a year and later started working strictly for 8.30 hours. Very soon, irrespective of my work and strictly following deadlines, there was an impression that I leave office early; hence I am not working enough.

I am sure this isn’t just my story.

This is what is called the – ‘INDIAN WORKING CULTURE’. Our working culture thrives on three main pillars:
15feb

Timing – is a very important factor to show how productive you are. The mindset has been developed the longer you stay, the more you work, although it has no direct relation to the work productivity. You might just finish a small EOD work and linger on the second, still if you stay really late; you are a hard working individual.

Processes – Every company has its norms and regulations. These must be followed. It is called company process. At times, these processes have no relation to the current scenario, it was made by senior’s way back and it is still followed. Does it hold true now or not, is a different story altogether.

Hierarchy – This is the worst part of the great Indian work culture. The boss is always right. If he says left is right, you have to agree. The right answer is a no-no. If you follow an alternate path, you will have to face the consequences, like loads of work, no overtime to top it and very evident bad ratings.

The world has become a smaller place and we have come face-to-face with the western culture. We have adapted a lot of things from there – like being open about relationships, live-in relationships, beautiful attires and what not.

What we also need to learn, is the working culture – No matter what, employees leave their workstation on the defined time and no body, mind it, no body judges them for that. There is a very rare situation when employees come to work on a holiday and most certainly, it is a big deal to work on holidays. There are a lot of work from home arrangements/liberties and employees follow the rules accordingly. Why can’t we adopt some working trends from there?

Talking about the recent crime, newspaper is filled with different stories, but only she knows what stress she was going through which made her work even on that fateful Sunday evening. May she rest in peace. As a respect for the lost life, let’s all work together towards a better and safer tomorrow!