Author: Akansha

The ABC of background verification

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In recent times, the term ‘background verification’ seems to be used around a lot, especially in relation with jobs and employment, of any sort. It is only natural to wonder, because its meaning is quite vague, despite being obvious. Questions such as ‘What is a background check?’ or ‘What will be verified?’ are common and crucial to the understanding of background verification.

What is meant by background verification?

A background verification or background check, by definition, refers to a comprehensive review of a person’s criminal, commercial and (often) financial records and history. Employers may perform background verification on present employees, potential candidates for employment and also of existing employees in the fold from time to time. It is done not only to confirm the information given in the job application by potential candidates, but also in order to verify the person’s identity and to ensure that the said individual, does not have a history of criminal activity, financial defaulting, etc that could pose to be an issue upon their employment in the organization. Background verification, at different levels, has become a major aspect of hiring/recruitment or for the purpose of educational application these days.

An overview of the background verification process

The background verification process varies from one organization to another. Typically, at a very basic level, employers will verify if the credentials provided in the application matches not only the supporting documents that were provided, but also the records of the institution or organisation that the candidate previously worked at. Also, checks are undertaken by means of speaking to people who are sure to be objective in their opinion about the person, i.e. previous employers, superiors, mangers, etc.

Drug tests are an important aspect that is often overlooked. Drug testing can bring to light cases of substance abuse, if any. A candidates address – permanent, or current, or both can be verified by a physical visit to the submitted address. Criminal checks are of various kinds – Database, Court record and lawyer check. Herein, an employer can verify if the candidate has had any criminal or civil proceeding against him/her. Candidates submitting identity proofs can also be verified, whether or not they are genuine or fake. As we know, getting a fake ID made doesn’t cost a fortune.

Employers today are going a step ahead and securing their workplaces by getting social media scans done, wherein candidates social media handles are scanned and screened for any unwanted affiliation and association. Also, social media profiles and usage depict volumes about a candidate’s psyche and social/moral inclination.

What is and is not included in a background check?

Aspects like a ‘Character check’ are very sensitive matters and subjective in nature. These cannot be covered or captured by background verification. Also, a candidate’s future behavioural pattern cannot be predicted or forecasted. We can trace patterns, if any unwanted behaviour/s have been documented or been observed. However, future behavioural patterns cannot be outlined by any given check.

Now that you have an idea about the background verification, you can see why it is needed for any potential/existing employee/s. If an employer (be it an individual or a firm or an institution) accepts a candidate for a position without verifying their credentials and background, they may have committed a grave error that could potentially cost them heavily to rectify, if too late. In today’s highly competitive and cutthroat competitive scenario, no individual or organization can afford to make such a blunder.

A background check is the only viable solution, upholding the adage that prevention is better than cure.

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Employee Background Verification – Discrepancy Statistics for July 2017

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

We observed that 0.5% 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 verification (accounting for 100% of the total discrepancy).

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Do you know your tenant?

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Display of unruly behavior, non-payment of rent on time, violence, aggression, verbal abuse, etc – If your tenant displays any of the aforementioned, it’s clearly a sign of a wrong decision made in selecting your tenant. Worse, what if you’re harboring terrorists unknowingly? Is your house being used as a haven by terrorists where they are plotting their next bombing/ hijacking/ kidnapping scheme. Or even worse is there a sex racket taking place in your precious property? Letting your house on tenancy without verifying the credentials of the tenants could land you on the wrong side of the law and with a lot of stress too.

A few months back, the Delhi police swooped down on landlords over the tenant verification rule, 174 FIRs were registered. Most of you will agree that giving a house on rent is not an easy task. It could become a serious headache if not handled properly.

Landlords in big and small cities are no longer taking prospective tenants at their word. Home owners are not penny wise pound foolish, they are getting background checks done on prospective tenants. Tenant’s background verification has truly emerged as a reliable solution capable of shedding light on the tenant’s background. By conducting a background check, which could comprises of ID check, address check, employment, criminal check, among others, you are ensuring the safety and security of your leased property.

As per a magistrate – verification of tenants is mandatory in order to avert grave danger to human life and safety and to prevent injury. Also a verification of tenants is a mandatory statutory and legal requirement by the government of India in many states now.

Screening potential tenants is one of the wisest and most important things to do. What are the benefits of getting a screening done on your prospective tenant:-

1. You can ascertain their address, so that if tomorrow they go absconding or there is a police case against them, you know for sure where their permanent address is.

2. You can get their ID check done to make sure; they are who they claim to be.

3. A criminal verification will ensure you are not letting your property to an anti social element to further his/her anti social ways.

4. Employment verification should be carried out to ascertain where the tenant works and what do they actually do.

These checks are highly recommended by us because each check looks into a different but crucial aspect of the prospective tenant’s profile.

It’s advisable to invest a little time, money and effort now to carry out the tenant verification than to deal with a problem later, when it may get worse and take longer to deal with. Therefore, a stitch in time saves nine!

Domestic help verification – A necessity in urban India!

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Case 1 – A gang of women thieves whose members worked as domestic helps in an upscale area in Delhi was recently busted by Delhi Police. Two women had approached a family based in South Delhi and offered to work there as domestic helps. When turned down, they offered to demonstrate their skills and were let in. But as the family got busy, the two women broke open an almirah and fled with goods worth lakhs.

Case 2 – Residents of an apartment complex in Noida woke up to a riot-like situation on Wednesday morning, when a mob stormed its gates and vandalised the premises. According to the residents, the female domestic help was allegedly caught stealing money from an apartment.

Case 3 – A domestic help was arrested for allegedly stealing gold jewellery worth Rs 10 lakh from the house of a senior citizen.

Case 4 – Three have been held for duping people through a fake domestic help placement firm.

What’s the common thread amongst all the cases mentioned above? Prima facie, it all has domestic helps involved. Also, they are all cases that have occurred across India in the last one month. However, the most significant piece of fact here is that – No background verification was done for any of the domestic helps employed.

Are we not concerned for the safety of our loved ones? Has dependence on these helpers reached such heights that we cannot even wait to get a verification done before we hire them and let them in our homes? Or are we ready to pay these helps the salary they ask for, but not ready to pay a paltry sum of money for verification?

Whatever it is that has kept you from getting an antecedent or a criminal verification done, should no longer hold you back.

I do not want to quote and write ghastly episodes that have taken place because of this negligence. Recently the country has witnessed sadly, a notable surge in crimes ranging from robberies, burglaries, home invasions and even personal atrocities such as murder and rape. Most of these crimes, as expected, have been committed by domestic helps. This is why police, other authorities and JantaKhoj emphasise the significance of conducting domestic help verifications. It is mandatory to get tenant/domestic servant/driver/guard/gardener verification done.

We would like to recommend some checks which as an employer you should get done:-

1. Education verification – Get the qualifications as quoted by the domestic help crosschecked. This is especially helpful if your domestic help will be required to perform extra duties such as helping your kids with homework/studies, etc. Also, if you are getting a home tutor for your child, this is mandatory.

2. Employment verification – There is nothing more full proof than a testament from a previous employer. This will give you an insight of the helps personal character, behaviour and work responsibilities carried out.

3. Criminal verification – Background checks lay bare any criminal activities that the help may have committed. You can get the concerned persons criminal and civil history checked. After all you do not want suspected/convicted murderers/rapists/thieves anywhere near you or your loved ones.

4. Address verification – You may have asked the domestic help to submit an address proof, which you’ve careful stowed away. Now this piece of paper hoarded away in your cupboard is no deterrent, if an address check hasn’t been done on it. An address check will help you ascertain whether the domestic help has/is residing at that address or not.

5. ID Check – Identity theft and faking is rife amongst this group. Get that Aadhaar/voter card you’ve kept in your file/cupboard checked. Also if you have a driver, you would want to be certain that he is who he says he is and he is most absolutely the owner of that driving license he submitted to you.

Should you wish to avail any of these services or wish to have a talk with us on background verification – We are just a call away!

Employee Background Verification – Discrepancy Statistics for June 2017

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

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We observed that 1.2% of the overall number of cases had discrepancies (could be major or minor).

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 verification (accounting for 50% of the total discrepancy), employment verification (accounting for 33.3% of the total discrepancy) and reference check (accounting for 16.7% of the total discrepancy),
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Employee Background Verification – Discrepancy Statistics for May 2017

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

We observed that 0.5% of the overall number of cases had discrepancies (could be major or minor).Image 1

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 verification accounting for 0.5% of the total discrepancies.
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Rise of the ‘learning & development’ renaissance

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Blog Image“An organization’s ability to learn, and translate that learning into action rapidly is the ultimate competitive advantage” — Jack Welch, former General Electric CEO

People often use the terms ‘training’ and ‘learning and development’ interchangeably, but they mean different things. Training is a sub-set of learning and development. Training was a terminology used in yesteryears, we now use the term – ‘learning and development’. I had once asked a trainer during a training session, why you use, learning and development instead of training. The L&D Manager said to me – “Training is for dogs, you’re a manager, it’s learning and development for you.” That stuck to me! It registered that training is one dimensional, whereas learning and development is a multi-dimensional approach to human resource development. To break it down further – learning is a process of acquiring knowledge, development is a process of applying the knowledge and converting it into a skill, training is a process in which an attempt is made to impart the knowledge, having said that, they both are inextricably linked to each other. So we too have to make that transition in our minds.

Over the years L&D has redefined itself, recharged and emerged stronger than before. Companies are allocating higher budgets to L&D departments, more man hours are being assigned to them and across industries L&D is being taken seriously. We have even found ways to find out ROI (return on investment) of our training sessions.

Most organization adopt a top-down approach for L&D. L&D is no longer about shuffling people through formal training courses, but about providing the tools to access a variety of informal learning on their own. Workplaces are now using mobile videos, social discussion forums to even VR (Virtual Reality) to impart learning. Gone are the conventional instructor-led classrooms, instead we now read about new learning formats like talk shows and learning festivals.

As virtual reality devices are becoming more common and more affordable, the use of virtual training will expand, enhancing learning experiences in every industry in 2017. Also, YouTube is an incredible resource for many reasons, but when it comes to learning one stands out in particular: just-in-time learning (JIT). The platform is the perfect example of quick, easily accessible learning that’s available at all times.

2016 marked the shift toward mobile, device-friendly systems for delivering a growing majority of learning content. This will continue to expand in 2017. Mobile learning comes with the unique benefits of flexibility, portability, and accessibility.

We also have to bear in mind that learning is contextual. Employees want their training to look and feel like their day-to-day working, so they can see exactly how to apply new knowledge and skills situationally. This improves productivity, performance, sales – and therefore, your bottom line.
I had spoken of ROI earlier on. The focus is no longer on training completion rates, but on the measurable business impact of training. What’s your organizations training ROI? The general benefits of training are undisputed: greater productivity, improved customer retention, increased sales, higher employee engagement, etc. But are you measuring them?

To measure specific KPIs, identify them before creating your training program. Ensure the metrics are measurable. You could maybe incorporate a balance scorecard matrix. I have worked on a balance scorecard matrix and totally vouch for it. You need to integrate a testing function into the program, to see how your training is benefiting your operations and your employee’s morale.
So, gone are the days when we witnessed – When the going gets tough, it’s time to cut the training budget. Today L&D is an integral part of every organizations growth and imperative for its success. The world around us is causing your Learning and Development department to be more important than ever. So take it seriously!

Take note of the rise of the ‘learning & development’ renaissance.

Employee Background Verification – Discrepancy Statistics for April 2017

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

We observed that 3.3% of the overall number of cases had discrepancies (could be major or minor).1

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, address and employment checks, with employment verification accounting for 62.5% of the total discrepancies. Education verification accounted for 25% and address check accounted for 12.5% of the total discrepancies.
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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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