PBSA and HR.com Release Fifth Annual Survey of Background Screening Trends

Background Screening News

Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

The Professional Background Screening Association (PBSA) – a non-profit trade group representing background screening firms worldwide – and HR.com’s HR Research Institute (HRRI) have released their 5th annual survey of Human Resources (HR) professionals entitled “Background Screening: Trends in the U.S. and Abroad” to identify and examine trends in the expansion of background screening in the increasingly globalized workforce.

The survey from the PBSA and HR.com found that background screening is widely utilized across the globe, with 93 percent of all organizations reporting they conducted some type of background screening. The research showed that while background screening was nearly universal among organizations with at least one location in the United States (95 percent), it was less common among organizations with no U.S. locations (79 percent).

For the first time in this survey’s five-year history, protecting company reputation edged out legal and regulatory requirements as one of the top three reasons why organizations conduct background screening. In 2021, the top three reasons for conducting background checks worldwide were to protect employees and customers (76 percent), to improve the quality of hires (52 percent), and to protect company reputation (41 percent).

The survey found that it was commonplace for organizations in the U.S. to wait to conduct background checks until after a conditional offer, with 73 percent of organizations with U.S. locations reporting that was when they conducted screenings. Outside of the U.S., it was more common to conduct a background check after a job interview but before a job offer, as 42 percent of companies with no U.S. locations conducted screenings this way.

Worldwide, a majority of organizations conduct both criminal and noncriminal background checks. However, criminal background checks were more common among companies with U.S. locations than companies with no U.S. locations (94 percent to 75 percent), while noncriminal background checks were slightly more common among companies with no U.S. locations than companies with U.S. locations (79 percent to 75 percent).

When examining what elements are included in a background check, the survey found that organizations with no U.S. locations were more likely than organizations with U.S locations to conduct education verifications, employment verifications, social media, and credit/financial background screenings. For organizations with U.S. locations, driving records, drug and alcohol testing, and sex offender registry searches were more common.

The survey found that international screening was vital, as 72 percent of respondents, regardless of location, thought it was important for companies to have access to international screening capabilities in the current global marketplace. Furthermore, 33 percent of respondents reported that they expected to hire more candidates that live or have lived in countries outside the organization’s current locations in the next five years.

When considering which background screening provider to use for their screening needs, respondents said the most important areas were quality and accuracy (83 percent), speed (58 percent), cost (54 percent), and customer service (43 percent). In addition, a majority of respondents (81 percent) reported that they had not switched background screening providers over the last 12 months and they did not intend to do so in 2021.

The PBSA is in its fifth year of collecting vital information from thousands of employers around the world about how they use background screening for their businesses and communities following similar annual surveys in 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020. All survey responses were confidential and used to help the PBSA provide employers with background screening trends to help them evaluate their needs. To access the 2021 survey, click here.

Founded in 2003, the PBSA was established to represent the interest of companies offering employment and tenant background screening services. The PBSA represents more than 880 member companies engaged in background screening ranging from Fortune 100 firms to small local businesses and is the trusted global authority for the background screening profession. To learn more about the PBSA, visit https://thepbsa.org/.

The PBSA will continue to strengthen the professionalism of background screeners in the United States with a strict and thorough set of professional standards of specified requirements and measurements for accreditation, according to leading global background check firm Employment Screening Resources® (ESR), which compiled the “ESR Top Ten Background Check Trends” for 2021 featuring emerging and influential trends in the industry.

ESR founder and chief executive officer (CEO) Attorney Lester Rosen was on the steering committee that founded the PBSA, which was formerly known as the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS) before rebranding to a new name in 2019. That same year, Rosen received the PBSA Lifetime Achievement Award that recognizes an individual’s contributions that have advanced excellence in the screening profession.

Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – a founding member of the PBSA that was ranked the number one screening firm by HRO Today in 2020 – is accredited by the PBSA under the Background Screening Agency Accreditation Program (BSAAP), a recognized seal of approval bringing national recognition to background screening organizations committed to excellence. To learn more about ESR, visit www.esrcheck.com.

NOTE: Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) does not provide or offer legal services or legal advice of any kind or nature. Any information on this website is for educational purposes only.

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