Trusting And Verifying The New Workplace

by | Oct 20, 2020

Can you believe we’ve been in the gusting winds of the pandemic tornado for more than six months now?

Most in the United States, and certainly locally in Nevada, mark the month of March as the time when everything changed.

At that moment, none truly understood how lasting and deep the impact of Covid-19 would be on the workplace. Still, many months later, business owners and human resources professionals are having to make dramatic adjustments to keep the ship on course.

For better or worse, the workplace has been permanently altered. The sudden surge in remote working and a sharply increased reliance on digital technology are tectonic shifts in the working environment that will not be reversed in the foreseeable future.

Now that the dust is clearly settling on the emergency workplace responses earlier this year, longer term strategies are required.

One of the main reasons for this is that businesses are now having to rely on the honesty and integrity of their teams more than ever. With employees scattered far beyond the walls of the main office, new systems of safety and accountability need to be put in place.

To be fair, remote working seems to be working.

Recent studies have indicated that productivity is remaining relatively intact for those companies extending workplace flexibility to their employees.

However, there are some troubling signs on the horizon. It’s because employers are more vulnerable than ever during these times of transition.

Many human resources professionals have been flooded with fraudulent unemployment claims, as the additional stimulus funds for the jobless has resulted in a deluge of identity theft and enrollment breaches.

There also is a sharply increased risk of embezzlement during this time as businesses have, by necessity in most cases, lost their paper trails. Businesses have to exercise caution in moving everything to purely digital payment systems, which eliminates a key firewall for fraud.

In a recent embezzlement case out of Pleasanton, California, a family member and long-term employee nearly crippled a small business by siphoning out $130,000 from their accounts over time. One of the keys to her crime going unnoticed for so long was that all her bookkeeping was done digitally, allowing her to cover up her criminal activity more easily.

And, although many employers are reporting surprising success with workplace flexibility, others are realizing that not all employees are repaying this grace with an honest day of work. In some cases, meetings are being missed, tasks are going unfinished and there is low confidence employers are getting a full and productive work day.

The remote workplace has also blurred some of the lines when it comes to liability outside of the office. What happens when that employee gets in a car after having a few drinks, and crashes on the way to getting paper for their home printer? Is your business now at risk?

Lastly, did you know there was a rapid rise in a phenomenon called “Work Tourism”?

Some crafty workers have realized they can do their Zoom meetings from anywhere in the world. It may be that your employee who has requested remote working might be much more remote than you would have ever imagined.

None of this is reason to panic or to unfairly question the integrity of your team members. Most are responding honorably in the face of once-in-a-lifetime circumstances.

Yet, with your leadership eyes wide open, it is time to be reminded of the old adage, “Trust…and then verify.”

If you haven’t yet reviewed your background screening polices since the pandemic hit, we would strongly encourage you to do so now and post haste.

Many of our customers have opted to strengthen their company’s productivity and safety by updating their employment policies to include recurring annual background screening policies for all of their staff.

This systematically allows them to better “verify” there haven’t been any significant life changes with their employees that could negatively and predictably impact the business.

These employers also rightly realize that a shift in remote working also shifts corporate liability risks, which is something enhanced background screening can help mitigate.

Is it time for a review of your background screening processes? We’ll provide that for you at no cost. It’s our way of verifying that we’re serving you at the highest levels possible.

As always, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to call or to send us a note.

These are challenging and strange times, indeed. Keep up the great work, in keeping everyone working.