In 2016, the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS) commissioned to conduct an unprecedented national survey of 1,528 HR professionals across the U.S. to gauge their views on background screening. Results were released this year.

What was discovered was nearly all human resources (HR) professionals now utilize background screening, citing public safety as a top priority. Employers of all sizes and locations report using screening as part of their onboarding process, typically after an interview or job offer. The number one challenge reported is the length of time to get results.

Nearly all the employers surveyed – 96 percent – stated their organization conducts one or more types of employment screening. A total of 83 percent of respondents screen all full-time employees.

Overwhelmingly, employers cited public safety as the top reason they conduct background screens. A full 89 percent stated they conduct screens for safety reasons. In a time when workplace shootings and other violence are news topics, employers are responding by implementing screening programs to protect employees, customers and communities. Other top reasons cited for screening: improving quality of hires (52 percent), protecting company reputation (45 percent), law/regulation (44 percent).

HR professionals highlighted the need for accuracy in their screening, with 98 percent responding they believe it is “very important.” At the same time, nearly two in three (62 percent) stated the length of time to get results is the most significant challenge facing their organization. With states increasingly removing identifying information, such as address and dates of birth from public records, the challenge is expected to remain. Redacting identifiers can lead to delays in hiring or applicants losing out on a job while the search for identifiers is ongoing.

More than half of the respondents surveyed represented companies with fewer than 99 employees (52 percent) with nearly a quarter (24 percent) of all respondents coming from companies with fewer than 24 employees. Nearly half of respondents (46 percent) represent privately held companies with 37 percent representing non-profits. Most wait to conduct a background screen until after a job interview or conditional job offer. A full 86 percent conduct a background screen after the job interview, including 55 percent that wait until after a job offer is made.

The vast majority of respondents report including some form of criminal history check in screening (97 percent). On the other hand, 77 percent of employers currently do not use social media in their screening process, and only five percent use social media for all candidates.

You can find the report here.