THE MAGAZINE

Taking Screening to the Next Level

By Barry Nixon

Most large corporations understand the importance of preemployment screening. But few recognize the need to periodically rescreen the work force. They presume that a person who had a clean criminal, credit, or driving record when they were hired will continue to have a spotless record. But people change, and so do their circumstances. Consider the case of one woman who checked out perfectly when hired as a bookkeeper. After ten years with the firm, however, she found herself overwhelmed with debt due to large medical bills incurred by her sick child. She saw a loophole in the company’s financial tracking system and exploited it to embezzle funds so that she could pay off her bills and continue to fund her child’s medical care.

In this case, the firm had a policy of conducting biannual screens on all individuals in sensitive jobs, including those working with the company’s books. The policy called for examining the credit history, bankruptcy filings, and financial records of these employees. A routine  posthire screening uncovered the worker’s serious credit problems. This led to an audit of her files, which revealed that the books were being falsified.

The case shows the potential power of rechecking employees after employment, a process sometimes called infinity screening. The practice is emerging as an important weapon for fighting internal fraud, property and information theft, workplace violence, and even terrorism. It’s easier to conduct continuous screening thanks to advances in data-collection techniques, but companies must tread carefully and be sure to address all the relevant legal issues, such as privacy and employment regulations.

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