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Conducting employment background screening is a crucial aspect of the hiring process, ensuring employers have visibility to any criminal records and access to validate candidate qualifications before removing all contingencies from an offer of employment. However, as labor costs and business expenses continue to increase, background and drug screening costs have also risen in recent years. Employers may be tempted to cut screening programs or eliminate them altogether in the interest of curtailing expenses. Yet, reducing protections afforded by ensuring a position-appropriate employment screen is conducted on each new hire can lead to significant increases in organizational risk, including elevated staff turnover, lost productivity, negative impact on corporate culture and workforce stability, and ultimately, increased risk of legal liability and reputational harm should an employee act in a manner resulting in harm to co-workers, clients or the general public, especially if the risk would have been foreseeable had appropriate screening been conducted. While screening can add to onboarding costs, there are several options available to ensure screening is economical and budget-friendly. This blog provides best practices for achieving efficient, cost-effective background screening processes to reduce overall costs and shorten hiring time without compromising quality results.


Use Comprehensive Background Checks

The first action many employers take to reduce overall screening costs is to reduce the breadth of the scope of their employment screening program. While omitting certain aspects of a candidate’s background check may seem initially like a viable cost-cutting initiative, it can expose the organization to significant risks. Therefore, companies should consider the potential costs of a bad hire and prioritize background checks as an essential part of their hiring process. According to the US Department of Labor, the financial impact of a bad hire can cost a company at least 30% of an employee’s first-year earnings. Reducing program scope by limiting screening to only searching the candidate’s provided name and address versus all disclosed names and addresses plus any developed from a social security trace or removing services like a federal district court search or national criminal database can lead to missed criminal records and significantly increased financial and reputational risk. Omitting employment and education verifications, license and credential validations, or industry-specific debarment and watch lists can lead to hiring underqualified and unsuitable candidates.

Recruitment costs in engaging top talent and ensuring adequate labor forces can be quite costly. Therefore, ensuring candidates undergo position-appropriate screening is imperative to mitigate the consequences of a negligent hire. According to BambooHR, employers spend between $7,500 and $28,000 in hard costs to recruit and hire a new employee. These expenses include job board fees, onboarding administrative requirements, background screening, and training. The Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) states soft costs, such as absenteeism, lost productivity, and harm to company culture, can account for up to 60% of the total hiring cost. Therefore, it is essential for organizations to exercise due diligence in their hiring process to prevent the consequences of a negligent hire.

One opportunity for cost saving is ensuring your screening program clearly aligns the scope of employment background screening and drug testing with the job description and anticipated duties for each position class. For example, executives and accounting staff often have expanded decision-making and access to financial assets, which warrants a more robust background screen that includes credit history, expanded employment and education verifications, and professional references. Field staff operating their personal car for company benefit or using a company-owned vehicle pose increased driving risk, creating the need for visibility into driving history and motor vehicle records. Non-managerial staff in positions with high supervision may only require appropriate criminal background checks. Too frequently, employers take a one-size-fits-all approach to employment screening, resulting in either overspending on robust screening for all employees or maintaining basic screening programs that do not adequately mitigate risk for all company hires. Lack of customization in screening programs is often the result of not working with a screening partner who provides periodic business reviews to offer expert support as the business grows and evolves or utilizing a provider with limited options for flexibility in supporting unique business needs.


Choose a Reliable Provider

Partnering with a quality Professional Background Screening Association (PBSA) accredited background screening provider can offer many advantages to companies. The PBSA is the premier background industry association. Accredited consumer reporting agencies (CRAs) like AccuSourceHR are audited periodically to ensure all processes comply with federal, state, and local screening legal requirements, safe and secure data management practices are maintained, documented vendor quality control systems are utilized, and all staff members undergo rigorous training both upon onboarding and throughout their employment. These standards help ensure accredited providers afford transparent, consistent customer and candidate support. They also reduce the financial risk of litigation resulting from failure to adhere to applicable laws and regulations and potential exposure of sensitive data due to substandard security protocols and unsafe handling procedures. By partnering with an accredited CRA, employers can benefit from robust compliance resources and support, which can aid in remaining up-to-date with ever-evolving laws and regulatory changes. Additionally, while accredited providers cannot offer direct legal advice, they often provide links to appropriate government documents and legislation to help employers identify requirements impacting their screening program so they can evaluate and make informed business decisions. When using a professional background screening provider, employers are also assured any information returned to them in a completed screening profile can be legally used for employment decision-making purposes. In addition, due to the high volume of reports processed by accredited CRAs, they often offer the most economical rates for screening services. They also frequently provide the most expedient turnaround time for completed screening profiles, leading to reduced time-to-hire.


Bundle Screening Services

An additional option to reduce overall screening costs and streamline processes to reduce recruiter labor is bundling screening services. Bundled services allow employers and HR professionals to save time by selecting a package rather than combining single, a-la-carte searches to meet the needs of specific job requirements. Bundling also affords increased budget certainty as each package enjoys the same base cost regardless of the number of alias names or former addresses held by each candidate.


Use an Applicant Tracking System

Organizations of any size can benefit from integrating their applicant tracking system (ATS) with their screening process. ATS integration can aid in streamlining tasks by using technology to reduce manual labor for both recruiters and candidates, often reducing overall processing times and further speeding up time-to-hire. Recruiters and HR professionals enjoy the automation of laborious, time-intensive tasks, such as ordering screening services, checking the progress of profiles in processing, and viewing completed reports, all within a single intuitive platform. Further, ATS integration promotes program consistency and reduces the risk of potential discrimination by ensuring all new hires in a specific job class are subject to equal screening requirements. Candidates also enjoy significant benefits from an ATS integration, which include reduced data entry requirements, electronic disclosure and consent documents, and increased visibility throughout the screening process.


Takeaway for Employers

Maintaining quality employment screening programs is vital for informed hiring decision-making. By engaging in the best practices outlined above, employers can successfully reduce overall screening costs while supporting appropriate background screening processes to safeguard their organization and protect their brand and reputation.

AccuSourceHR is a PBSA-accredited national leader in background screening, occupational health services, and substance abuse testing. Our passion is creating outstanding customer experiences and leading organizations to successful, efficient hiring and onboarding processes. We offer expansive background screening services in over 230 countries and territories worldwide to make hiring easier for businesses and their human resource teams. By partnering with AccuSourceHR, employers can save time, reduce screening costs, and ensure a comprehensive screening process to mitigate hiring risks.

Want to learn more about how AccuSourceHR can help reduce screening costs and further safeguard your business? Email us at for a complimentary program evaluation.