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2020 and 2021 have ushered in record transformations in the workforce, making upcoming HR staffing trends important to spot now in order to smoothly pivot staffing teams for success. Here are the major workforce trends we’ve seen that HR teams can bear in mind as they work to hire candidates while also being mindful of the need for safety in the workplace.

As SIA reported last year, contingent workers made up more than a third (35%) of the labor market in 2020. While it’s true that businesses can meet increased demand by quickly hiring contingent workers, an incomplete onboarding process can also present serious risks to workplace safety.

Traditionally, staffing organizations have focused on background screening their full-time employees rather than including the contingent workforce as a whole. Unfortunately, as the remote worker population has spiked, so has identity fraud. According to the Aite Group’s report, U.S. Identity Theft: The Stark Reality, identity theft cases caused over $500 billion in losses in 2019 and ballooned by 42% to over $712 billion in 2020. We believe it’s critically important to build a consistent hiring program (regardless of your workforce population) when conducting background checks. For example, remote contractors often use proprietary business equipment, networks and tools from their homes. These unsecured areas pose a real security risk to a company’s operations and brand.

Identity verification has only become more important as the workforce continues its slow flight from the office. Forbes cites a 2021 Accenture report which found that 83% of workers surveyed preferred a hybrid model allowing them to work remotely at least a quarter of the time. There’s also an increasing risk that candidates using stolen IDs will pass easily through a standard background check. According to a study of HR professionals conducted by HR.com, one in five of those responding reported instances of candidate or worker identity fraud at their organization. It’s a common misconception that a background check automatically verifies an applicant’s identity. After all, candidates may be using someone else’s stolen personal information, bought from a webpage for just a few dollars.

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In our view, identity verification has become vital — not just in 2022, but beyond — in order to build a safe and successful workplace. HR staffing teams should think more broadly about how identity checks will promote trust and safety in the workplace, both physical and remote.

According to Sterling’s SIA webinar produced in February of this year in partnership with Pro Unlimited, staffing firms will need more accurate data in order to drive accelerated placement of top talent. Inaccurate candidate data can produce erroneous background check results, and these errors can snowball to impact the integrity of the rest of your candidates’ life cycle, from hiring to onboarding. Identity verification helps to support data integrity by capturing accurate data on the front end of the talent acquisition process.

Ultimately, to help determine if their candidates are authentic, employers should focus on ensuring that digital identity verification is an element of their onboarding process. However, identity verification is not a standard part of the background screening process, though many HR professionals assume that it is. Instead, identity verification is a separate component that requires modern, fast and agile technology.

Digital ID verification technology can also add efficiency to the onboarding process. “Identity verification tools drive data accuracy and put candidates in control of their information, helping to speed up hiring and onboarding while delivering a frictionless candidate experience,” says Blake Hall, ID.me founder and CEO. Identity verification also has a downstream effect: By offering candidates a secure way to prove their identity using their smartphone (much like a digital wallet), HR staffing teams provide a positive candidate experience, which can in turn improve the hiring process and increase candidate retention.

The rise of contingent workers in the modern workforce is a trend that’s likely to continue throughout 2022. Identity verification can and should be designed at the very start of the background screening process to give staffing managers proof that candidates are who they say they are. Companies who integrate identity verification into their onboarding process can help to mitigate corporate risk, gain confidence when hiring and ultimately promote trust and safety in their workplace.

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