Businesses turning to HR outsourcing in light of compliance complexity, survey reveals

December 10th, 2019

The increasing complexity surrounding recruitment compliance, right to work checks and background screening has driven businesses to employ external experts to limit the risks to their organisation, according to a survey by one of the leading suppliers of background and identity services, Sterling.

In research undertaken during its webinar, “The Why, When and How of Outsourcing”, the firm found that 89% of respondents felt that compliance surrounding background checks is now more complex than it has ever been. This has led to an uptick in the use of third-party experts to reduce the risks associated with hiring, with over half (56%) of those surveyed admitting to outsourcing recruitment. A further 44% revealed they use an external partner for background screening.

According to Sterling, businesses need to be wary of getting ‘lost’ in compliance and ensure they have the steps in place to mitigate potential risks.

Steve Smith, Managing Director EMEA at Sterling, explained:

“The introduction of the likes of GDPR and tightening of compliance belts in the last few years has put so much pressure on HR teams to rethink the use of data, it’s perhaps unsurprising that so many respondents felt that background checks – which can be hugely data driven – have become more complex. Indeed, it is only natural that as the screening industry matures, complexity has increased – and it will only continue to do so. However, given the increasing scrutiny facing employers today, it’s important that businesses don’t allow themselves to be overly daunted by compliance, but instead look at what is absolutely necessary and what can – or even should – be delivered by an external expert.”

“There are more component parts in a background check today. The admin burden internally has drastically increased, driving much of this need to outsource that we’ve noted. In fact, as we found in our compliance trends report, time is one of the biggest factors for European businesses when looking at why they should outsource.”

Ian Williams, Director at HR Consulting, who participated in the webinar, added:

“You’d expect that most organisations have access to recruitment agencies or third-party suppliers for candidate attraction. What is interesting is the number of those outsourcing background screening which is perhaps higher than I’d expected, though I certainly predict that these figures will increase in the near future. As the global business and employment landscapes continue to evolve, having the right outsourced partnerships in place will be crucial to success. However, it’s important to remember that this process isn’t a one-way thing. Businesses need to ensure they are regularly reviewing how well things are going with an outsourced supplier and asking what more can be done together to improve the process.”


About Sterling
Sterling—a leading provider of background and identity services—offers a foundation of trust and safety that spans across industries, professions, and borders. Our technology-powered services help organizations create great environments for their workers, partners, and customers. With office locations around the world, Sterling conducts more than 75 million searches annually. Visit Sterling online at   

This publication is for informational purposes only and nothing contained in it should be construed as legal advice. We expressly disclaim any warranty or responsibility for damages arising out this information. We encourage you to consult with legal counsel regarding your specific needs. We do not undertake any duty to update previously posted materials.

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