As an employer, you work hard to build and maintain a strong, mutually beneficial relationship with your employees. You know that happy employees are one of your most important assets and do the best you can to provide the kind of work environment and benefits that attract and retain the best people. But, despite your best intentions and efforts, you might be overlooking one of the most important employee benefits you can provide.
The Savvy Employer’s Secret: Employment Verification
According to the most recent National Compensation Study conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (July 2013), the top five most commonly offered benefits in the workplace today are unpaid family leave, vacation pay, holiday pay, health/medical care, and prescription drugs. Lower in the rankings, you’ll see items like life insurance, wellness programs, financial planning, and childcare. But there’s one important item that doesn’t even cross the benefit radar of most employers: employment verification.
It may seem inconsequential, but in the context of real life, employment verification becomes one of the most important benefits you can offer your employees. We understand why you might be rolling your eyes right now. We are, after all, an employment verification company. But, the truth is that some of the most well-respected and successful companies and organizations have seen improvements in employee retention and satisfaction simply by providing the them with access to the best employment verification process possible. Read on to learn why an effective employment verification process is so valuable to your employees, and what needs to be in place to provide that positive experience.
Why Employment Verification Matters – Real-life Scenarios
Some of the most stressful events in any person’s life include purchasing a home, losing or changing jobs, or dealing with a major illness. The common factor across all these scenarios is the need for the employee to verify his or her employment quickly and accurately. In each of these cases, failure to procure employment verification in a timely manner puts the things that matter most to your employee at risk.
Take, for example, the case of a husband and wife in the process of buying their first home. After providing the lender with all the necessary signatures and paperwork, they had just one last hurdle to clear: verifying their employment. They submitted the required forms to their employers, but because of a backlog of requests, the verifications were delayed. Without the verification, the mortgage company was unable to approve the loan and the entire process came to a standstill. Ultimately, the couple lost their dream home.
Clearly, in this instance, efficient employment verification was not a minor detail. Having a better process in place would have changed everything for that couple. A better process would also have saved your HR team some stress and strife. It’s safe to say that in a case like this, the negatively affected employee will escalate the issue to his or her manager or to someone within the HR department. Consider also, what would happen if the employee in question was your company’s CEO. We’ve seen this happen, and it isn’t pretty.
And they are just one example. There are many scenarios in which important life events hinge on employment verification. A mother applying for government assistance after losing her job needs documentation of her employment termination in order to qualify for benefits. Someone applying for a law enforcement job needs verification that they had previous work experience as a security guard to even be considered for the position. And, the list goes on.
Why Most Outsourcing Fails
The vast majority of employers handle employee verification in one of two ways — they either try to manage the process in-house, or they outsource requests to third-party verification providers that sell employee data to requestors (typically banks, lenders, new employers, or government agencies) who need to verify employment.
The problems created when employers try to respond to employment verification requests using in-house resources are exactly what you would expect. For employers, the process can eat up a lot of an HR resource’s time, causing bottlenecks in other areas. On the employee side, the limited availability of HR staff may lead to lengthy delays in obtaining verification, putting critical transactions like loan approvals, rentals, and important employee entitlements in jeopardy.
Typical outsourcing options create a whole other set of issues. Although these situations do offer some benefits to the employer — such as a reduction in the administrative burden, 24/7 availability, and standardized reporting — they don’t always provide the best experience for the employee. The additional layer of a third-party vendor creates response delays and puts a barrier between employees and their data, reducing visibility into the process. Even when it eventually delivers the necessary verification, this process often leads to employee anxiety and frustration because they have little control over or insight into what’s happening.
The Key to Getting Employment Verification Right … for Everyone
Implementing the kind of employment verification process that works for both you, as the employer, and your employees requires a different mindset. You need to think about and treat employment verification as an employee benefit. When you look at it like this, it becomes a lot easier to identify which attributes go into a winning solution.
For instance, ask what’s most important to your employees. They want verifications that are processed promptly and accurately through a system that allows for complete employee access and visibility into the process. They also want documentation that’s ready to go – customized with the exact information they need and presented in a company-approved format. The need for speed, accuracy, and convenience is self-explanatory, but employers often underestimate the importance of giving employees visibility into the verification process.
Consider, however, what happens if an employee is denied a mortgage due to an incorrect discrepancy in reported wages on his verification report. Without visibility into the process, how will he know which info was provided on his behalf by his employer? Or, what if an employee’s job title or pay rate changes – how will she become aware of this change if she’s not actively looking at her verification report? Employees need to be able to see what’s going on with their sensitive employment data at all times.
Today, leading companies like Mayo Clinic, IHS, Cornell University, and many others have begun to change the way they think about employment verification. These organizations are using more advanced solutions that allow not only for time-saving automation and instant delivery of verification information, but also provide employees with the ability to monitor and adjust their employment data via simple and secure desktop and mobile portals.
These employers are making a very real difference for their employees, and at the same time reducing the workload for their internal HR teams. It really is a win-win situation that all starts with a shift in mindset.