Can you trust every employee who works for and with you? If you are being honest, you might find it difficult to answer in absolute affirmation. You are neither alone in this conundrum nor is your uncertainty baseless. The number of frauds, thefts, and cases of embezzlement of funds by employees across the world are on a rise so much so that more than half of all financial frauds are driven by insiders. A global risk consulting firm revealed that 75% of companies where fraud was discovered, at least one perpetrator was an insider.
When the very people entrusted with protection, growth, and support of your organization turn their back on you, it can hurt in more than one way. The financial repercussions aside, insider fraud can strike hard at your company’s reputation as well as the morale of your employees. Raising its head out of the most unexpected corners, it can make you question everyone and everything. And that’s not pleasant either as you risk alienating honest and loyal employees.
In the times when workplaces are being pushed harder than ever to innovate, learn and unlearn to both win customers and to protect their interest; inability to trust your own employees shouldn’t be baggage that you should be carrying around. Yet, that’s exactly what modern-day organizations are dealing with – mopping up the latest fraud under the carpet and crossing their fingers that the next one doesn’t happen at their organization.
This brings me to the important question – if employee frauds are this common and have such disastrous implications, why is that so many employers don’t seem to be doing anything about it? The matter of the fact is that they have been doing what they thought works – mitigating risk by conducting pre-employment verification of employees to authenticate identity, education, professional experience, criminal background, etc. The problem is that this practices, passed on from one generation of recruiters to another, has two fundamental loopholes that leave room for frauds and scams to creep in:
1) Pre-employment screening verifies a candidate’s credentials only up till that moment in life and fails to keep a check on future developments. It cannot trace changes in motivation or incentivization to commit fraud in the future.
2) Many public records are still in the process of getting digitized, especially criminal records. This means that all the best efforts may still leave a tiny chance of incomplete verification due to the limitations of the verifying source.
Moreover, pre-hiring authentication cannot address the three elements of the Fraud Triangle that forms the basis of every major fraud as American sociologist and criminologist Donal R. Cressey suggests. These elements are financial or personal pressure, the perfect opportunity to commit a crime and the rationalization of fraud. With any of these elements missing, chances of fraud reduce significantly. Even when the elements of the Fraud Triangle come together for employees, what emboldens the decision to commit these frauds is the belief that one can get away with them. A Reddit thread is worth mentioning here. An innocuous question had been asked – ‘What would be the very first thing you would do if there were no consequences for your actions?’ The answers to this question had been eye-openers. Most people responding had hinted towards a desire to commit a crime or felony (driving without a speed belt, hacking into accounts, stealing, even killing) that they couldn’t commit in real life because there would be consequences.
If Mr. Cressey was right about the three elements that constitute the fraud triangle, then organizations have limited options. They neither have much control over financial and personal ‘pressures’ of employees nor their moral compass that would allow or disallow for the ‘rationalization’ of fraud. What they can do is to put better controls in place to curb ‘opportunity’. If fear of getting caught and penalized keeps the elements of the Fraud Triangle in check, conventional verification at hiring must be complemented with a solution that can keep that fear looming as often as employers needed.
At AuthBridge, through extensive research and many client interactions, we arrived at the realization that we needed to empower our clients with a periodic screening solution. This solution would verify the dynamic credentials (criminal record, credit history, drug abuse, etc.) of their employees at critical roles or at key transitions in their career where the opportunity to commit a fraud feels tangible. This solution would establish accountability for employees which would be a legit resistance against incentive to commit fraud, and a framework for clients to further mitigate the risk of employee frauds. This is how AuthXtend™, a Post-Employment Risk Watch solution, came into being.
AuthXtend™ is supported by our proprietary database of negative records -VAULTTM- that enables it to access the latest criminal and civil records, some of which have only recently been made available in the public domain. These records are a goldmine for detecting major and minor crimes that might have gone unnoticed in the past even with the best verification partner due to the sheer unavailability of digital records. State-of-the-art technologies like AI and ML that power our product portfolio also support AuthXtend™, making it not only fast but intuitive, ensuring the results generated from search are accurate and conclusive.
The past few years have been instrumental in making us see its true potential, especially in industries like retail, healthcare and sharing economy where either there is an overwhelming risk of theft or endangerment to a brand’s customers by employees. Additionally, high-risk executive or leadership positions that directly impact an organization’s culture, its reputation or finances deserve timely screening not just for identifying the black sheep but also making informed retention and promotion decisions. This is perhaps why talent acquisition editor Roy Maurer at Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) included periodic employee screening as one of the top three employment screening trends for 2019.
SHRM has also released data on the average monetary impact of the hiring process. It was an exorbitant $4,425 in 2017. Want to guess the cost of firing a bad hire? It is $840,000. Periodic screening solutions like AuthXtend™ can not only help organizations save this huge cost but also add value by creating safe workplaces of the future where trust-flows naturally. By adopting periodic screening solutions that treat the consent of employees as fundamental, employers might be able to create a transparent work culture where integrity is appreciated and rewarded.