HireRight's 2018 EMEA Employment Screening Benchmark Report has shown that retaining and developing talent has been earmarked as a key challenge this year for more than half (52 per cent) of EMEA businesses. In this year’s annual survey of human resource (HR) and risk professionals in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), employee growth emerged as one of the top priorities for EMEA businesses. A total of 71 per cent of companies reported that they are planning to grow their workforce in 2018, compared to 59 per cent in 2017. Further, there has been a shift from attracting talent to retaining it, with 43 per cent of businesses having identified maximising employee engagement as a top talent management issue (a rise of 30 per cent from 2017). To address this concern, half (52 per cent) of companies report that they are investing in engagement initiatives and improving company culture.
Nearly two years on from Britain’s decision to leave the EU, confidence in the UK’s business landscape also appears to be returning, according to the research. Although 38 per cent of respondents believe that the UK is a less attractive place to do business since the Brexit vote, this statistic has dropped significantly (by 22 per cent) from last year’s survey.
Likewise, concerns over regulation and screening remain significant, but are less of a worry than last year. Notably, just four per cent of respondents are thinking about discontinuing recruitment in the UK because of Brexit, with 64 per cent strongly disagreeing that they will reduce UK hires.
“HR and risk departments have faced a nearly unprecedented year of change and challenge, as they tackle tightening data regulation, Brexit uncertainty, technological disruptions, and the continued move towards contingent and flexible working,” according to Steve Girdler, managing director of EMEA and APAC at HireRight. “Despite these changes, business confidence continues to grow, and as a result hiring rates are expected to rise – in many cases, significantly.”
Verification of candidates does remain a concern for employers, however. 89 per cent of survey respondents report that they have seen candidates misrepresenting information on CVs or job applications. In addition, over a quarter (28 per cent) of businesses uncovered issues during screenings of senior-level staff, with 26 per cent of businesses admitting that it’s possible that board-level staff have never had their qualifications and experience verified.
75 per cent of organisations surveyed say they have discovered candidate history discrepancies that would have gone undiscovered without the use of background screening. Of organisations which screen, ensuring a positive candidate experience was one of the biggest issues of importance – having risen 14 per cent in a year – with half (51 per cent) of businesses investing into initiatives to improve this.
According to Girdler, “With corporate reputational scandals continuing to make headlines and increasing pressures of regulatory compliance, and EMEA businesses are now held to closer scrutiny than ever before. However, many continue to needlessly open themselves up to threats by not implementing simple but effective screening processes when hiring.
“Discrepancies are continuing to be identified at all candidate levels of seniority – from entry to board room level,” he adds. “The need for employers to hire with confidence is becoming ever-more crucial to avoid business risk.”
Respondents to this year’s survey were also clearly focused on the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) legislation, which came into force on May 25th and impacts the way all EMEA businesses transfer and store data, whether they are EU-based or hire from within the EU. Over two-thirds of businesses (69 per cent) reported that they were ready for the required changes, and that they know exactly how to comply with GDPR. Still, nearly one fifth (18 per cent) of HR and risk professionals say they don’t know how GDPR is any different from the existing Data Protection Directive.
“It’s clear that, as a result of GDPR, companies are now having to paying more attention to all aspects of data handling, including where data is stored and processed around the world,” said Girdler. “As a business, HireRight rigorously planned to be GDPR compliant – including ISO certifications, a separate data centre and updated policies – to ensure a candidate’s data is protected. These efforts and investments have put us squarely at the forefront of the screening industry in terms of embracing the drive toward transparency, accessibility and our compliance when it comes to candidate data.”