〈   Human factor
Human risk management

Chapter 3.1

Employee background checks

Between 2018 and 2020, the reputational risk almost doubled (from 37 to 61.5%). There are almost 400 successful attacks per week in Switzerland. Therefore, it is necessary to protect the reputation of the brand, promote the integrity of employees and the company, certify the organisation and document an HR process. For this purpose, employee background checks must be carried out.

It is often said that to ensure successful recruitment, three things should be looked for in candidates:

  • skills and abilities (ability to do something);
  • personality and motivations (willingness to do something); and
  • integrity and compliance (to avoid reputational and security risks).

Moreover, it is sometimes said that it is better to hire someone who is stupid and lazy than someone lacking integrity.

The extent of these checks depends on the roles and responsibilities of the employee, and more specifically the strategic risk that could arise for the organisation in the event of a lack of skill or integrity or even reputational issues. Aspects such as access to data, strategic infrastructures or financial resources, or legal responsibilities and representation of the organisation, are often taken into account when making such an assessment.

To ensure the integrity and compliance of people who have roles considered “sensitive”, background checks verify information such as the person’s identity, address history, training and/or qualifications, work experience, criminal record, financial probity and potential conflicts of interest. An analysis of the candidate’s public internet presence can also be an important factor in avoiding reputational risks, provided that only relevant items are considered.

For these sensitive positions, regular updates of the staff files must also be envisaged (e.g. every three to five years) to avoid the information about the human risks associated with the individuals who hold these positions becoming outdated.

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