The COVID-19 pandemic has been a challenging time for industries, organizations and their teams on every level. HR leaders had to adapt to a new normal quickly. Along with coping with the closing of workplaces and adjusting to working from home, many organizations had significant recruitment, vetting and onboarding activities. With two-thirds of employers reporting increased productivity for remote workers than in-office workers, businesses also discovered the benefits of a remote and flexible workforce. With the human element of HR almost vanishing overnight, HR leaders had to learn how to leverage the “digital” aspect of their jobs, ramp it up and implement it across their processes to deliver a new-hire experience and an overall good employee experience. And these changes are very likely to stay for the long haul.

This article explores how COVID-19 radically transformed the new-hire experience from recruitment to background screening, onboarding, and retention. We also explore some of the advantages of these changes and how you can leverage the new normal into your employee experience and increase retention.

The new normal

When COVID-19 struck, companies were faced with the difficult task of hiring quickly and economically, continuing effective onboarding processes, and changing the overall new-hire experience whilst managing the day-to-day risks and ever-changing challenges. COVID posed a lot of challenges when it comes to recruitment, such as:

  1. Navigating the new realm of virtual recruitment.
  2. High demand for recruitment in specific sectors (e.g., pharmaceuticals, retail supermarkets, delivery companies, transportation, retail banks, healthcare).
  3. The need to hire employees with a specific skill set (e.g., digital marketing, IT teams, customer service).
  4. Accommodating for existing staff working from home.
  5. Considering the long-term and short-term economic impact of hiring during the uncertainty of the pandemic.

There was also the onboarding process. Before the pandemic, some would say the process of onboarding an employee begins when the candidate is offered the position and continues until the new employee is considered productive – which could be anytime from the end of a probation period, for example, to a full year and the first appraisal. However, according to a recent survey by CareerBuilder, 25% of employers reported that their onboarding process took a day or less. In comparison, 26% spent a week, 21% over a month, and 11% said their onboarding process extends over three months or longer.

Furthermore, during the pandemic, the number of cases of employee fraud and misconduct grew substantially. In a survey conducted last year by CRI Group, an overwhelming number of respondents said the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting human resources at their company. There are also concerns about fraud, and the protection of confidential information, as much of the workforce has gone virtual in work-from-home (WFH) arrangements. CRI Group’s survey measures the pulse of human resources during a challenging time in business worldwide. The largest number (38%) of survey participants were human resources professionals, but respondents also included managers (19%); executives, directors and administrators (27%); and other roles.

Being digital in a COVID world, where face-to-face interaction is no longer possible, is mostly about optimising the end-to-end employee experience and leveraging data to deliver a somewhat personal employee onboarding experience. Outlined below are ten fundamental tips that support it:

1. Integrate employee information from screening to onboarding and deployment

Managing data is a challenge, but it is essential to ensure that the monitoring and engagement of the new hire remain consistent throughout the onboarding lifecycle. Integrate a system that includes Applicant Tracking System (ATS), recruitment, background screening, onboarding, and performance management, and learning/development systems.

2. There are no shortcuts in recruitment; background screening is more critical than ever

Many companies are hiring at an accelerated rate – especially in the medical profession and industries dealing with infectious diseases, medical supply, pharmaceutical companies and research facilities. A need for quick and effective pre-employment screening has arisen, but that is precisely why proper background screening is critical during COVID. Take the revised BS7858:2019 standard: When establishing policies and practices around the standard and vetting new hires against the standard, organisations can show that they place a high value on hiring individuals who possess integrity. Organisations can then task their new hires with responsibilities designed to keep their co-workers, customers and information safe from the negative forces that have become more prevalent in today’s ever-changing COVID-19 world.

3. Reduce insider fraud or misconduct risk and increase employee integration success rate from the get-go

Unfortunately, during the COVID-19 crisis, employee fraud has increased. According to a 2020 report from the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, 5% of all revenue generated by organisations – some three and a half trillion pounds globally – is lost every year through fraud committed by employees. Effective background screening for candidates and employees is an essential and effective countermeasure.

4. Leverage HR technology, social media and remote working to elevate the employee experience

Remote working is very much a given in this era, so you must leverage technology to not only facilitate your new hire now but their job as a future permanent employee. It will also reduce the need for face-to-face support while at the same time encouraging pro-activity and self-service. In today’s reality, employee experience is not just about boosting employee engagement but more about employee support effectiveness as a whole – while reducing dependencies on HR at the same time.

5. Engage new-hire from the get-go

Employee onboarding starts not just when the employee joins the organization. Your very first email is the first experience the candidate has with your organization. In the fast world of recruitment, too many sure candidates drop your process or reject your offers for a better one. It is essential to keep the candidate engaged while at the same time initiating a slow process of integrating her/him into the organization asap — by doing so, you will improve the offer-to-join ratio.

6. Accelerate the time-to-competency for new hires by reducing the learning curve

It is important to establish expectations, set clear goals for the new hire, and monitor them consistently. Investing in employees’ professional development has always been an attractive “benefit” of any luring organization. With COVID and the inability to learn on the job, this is more important. Why? Employees at all levels worldwide have been flung into a different and new way of working, which requires a very different skill set. According to Gallup, organizations that invest in employee development report 11% greater profitability. Every individual has his/ her learning style and ways of retaining information, so leverage all the digital tools available such as on-demand videos, live chats, virtual assistants, and other forms of interactive self-paced learning options.

7. Up-skilling your people by providing learning and knowledge retention tools on demand

Learning is key to making an employee productive. Training new and current employees to cope with the ongoing changes from the COVID-19 pandemic will help them remain productive. Employee retention like this is invaluable, especially as recruitment has become that bit trickier in a remote world. Do not lose top talent, knowledge and experience, for lacking that extra level of support.

8. Mental health is critical; it is time to acknowledge and practice it

The turbulence of today’s dual health and economic crises is unprecedented and is affecting employees. PwC’s 2020 Global Consumer Insights survey shows a shift in the consumer’s priority, with 69% saying they are caring more about their mental health and physical fitness, and 63% saying they want to eat healthier as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic. A study from Tilburg University in the Netherlands (commissioned by the IOSH – Institution of Occupational Safety and Health) estimated around 12.8 billion working days are lost due to anxiety and depression. The study concluded that organizations could help prevent mental health problems from becoming more severe and achieve a more sustainable workplace by paying attention to each individual’s situation and conditions. Employers must emphasize meeting individual needs and finding a more tailored approach where the new reality can safely “cohabit” with a desired new future. Leveraging social media to provide a robust peer support system is equally helpful – these will aid the onboarding process.

9. The employee continuously due diligence

Conduct a periodic review of existing employees. Investing in due diligence is vital to mitigate the risks and identify fraud. Periodically screening and vetting existing employees can protect and enhance the overall security of your organization.

10. Cut costs drastically

Leveraging these new changes and integrating them into your onboarding cycle can help reduce expenses drastically across your business. It eliminates the cost that comes when placing the wrong candidate.

EmploySmart – take the first step towards transforming your employee background screening!

Businesses have to adapt quickly to survive, which can mean cutting steps in their hiring process, and no one knows how this will play out. Using a vendor to conduct your background screening effectively will invaluably make your onboarding process more scalable. It will allow you to focus on delivering consistently superior services to new hires across the board and, more importantly, focus on the fun stuff like supporting the new hire on their continued improvement.

We understand how important it is to monitor all stages from recruitment to onboarding and from onboarding to learning and development; that’s why our employee screening reports are easy to “transcribe” to whatever HR ecosystem you use. Our reports will essentially complement the effectiveness of any employee onboarding process and, therefore, your HR department.

Mitigate the employee risk impact! Learn how with this FREE eBook. Taken as a whole, this eBook is the perfect primer for any HR professional, business leader and company looking to avoid employee background screening risks. It provides the tools and knowledge needed to stay ahead of COVID-19 effectively. Read more or DOWNLOAD now!

EmploySmart | Most Robust Employee Background Check Service

How do you know the candidate you just offered a role to is the ideal candidate? Are you 100% sure you know that everything they’re telling you is the truth? 90%? They showed you a diploma, how do you know it’s not photoshopped? Did you follow the correct laws during your background checks process? Employee background checks and necessary screenings are vital to avoid horror stories and taboo tales that occur within HR, your business, or even your brand – simply investing in a sufficient screening can save you time, money and heartbreak.

CRI® Group has developed EmploySmart™, a robust new pre-employment background screening service, certified for BS7858,  to avoid negligent hiring liabilities. Ensure a safe work environment for all – EmploySmart™ can be tailored into specific screening packages to meet the requirements of each specific position within your company. We are a leading worldwide provider, specialized in local and international employee background checks, including pre-employment and post-employment background checks.


About us…

Based in London, CRI® Group works with companies across the Americas, Europe, Africa, Middle East and Asia-Pacific as a one-stop international Risk ManagementEmployee Background ScreeningBusiness IntelligenceDue DiligenceCompliance Solutions and other professional Investigative Research solutions provider. We have the largest proprietary network of background screening analysts and investigators across the Middle East and Asia. Our global presence ensures that no matter how international your operations are, we have the network needed to provide you with all you need, wherever you happen to be. CRI® Group also holds BS102000:2013 and BS7858:2019 Certifications is an HRO certified provider and partner with Oracle.

In 2016, CRI® Group launched the Anti-Bribery Anti-Corruption (ABAC®) Center of Excellence – an independent certification body established for ISO 37001:2016 Anti-Bribery Management SystemsISO 37301 Compliance Management Systems and ISO 31000:2018 Risk Management, providing training and certification. ABAC® operates through its global network of certified ethics and compliance professionals, qualified auditors and other certified professionals. As a result, CRI® Group’s global team of certified fraud examiners work as a discreet white-labelled supplier to some of the world’s largest organizations. Contact ABAC® for more on ISO Certification and training.