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Overhauling Policies & Procedures Improves Background Screening Operations at Sutter Health in Northern California

“Human Resources has evolved over the years as we’ve placed greater emphasis on strategic communications and explored new ways to work more efficiently. Today, we’re using data and metrics to manage our work and we’re including a branding strategy to help attract and retain the very best employees.”

Those words couldn’t ring more true for Carolyn Beghin, Director of Human Resources, and Keith Vencel, Human Resources Product Manager for Sutter Health, a leading not-for-profit network of 26 community-based hospitals and physician organizations throughout Northern California. Sutter and its affiliates employ more than 38,000 employees.

As Vencel puts it, the key to great HR is being able to communicate clearly and efficiently with each party involved in a hiring transaction. And with close to 10,000 new hires undergoing background screening yearly, it seems as if the company has communications down to a fine science. “It’s all about building relationships with our internal and external customers,” he says.

There was a time when Sutter Health used more than a dozen different vendors to process background screening services, causing workload backlogs and vast inconsistencies in reporting.

“We had close to a dozen different companies conducting employee investigations using a dozen different processes and providing analyses in a dozen different formats,” Vencel says. “From an economies of scale standpoint, we were losing out in terms of cost, quality and time.”

“Our two biggest concerns were the inconsistencies in our overall processes and ensuring that we were in compliance with hiring laws,” he points out. “After reviewing the system, a team of HR professionals and our legal staff determined that our overall return on investment in the screening process had to involve a reduction in cost per case, reduction in the average turnaround time and a complete standardization of the process.”

Leading Management, Counseling Staff

“We looked to Corporate Screening to take a strong business partnership role and assist us in revolutionizing our system, revamping our screening policies, educating our staff, revising documentation standards and, finally, securing a purchasing relationship with our affiliates,” Beghin explains.

That task was not a simple one. Corporate Screening signed a three-year background screening agreement with Sutter Health (“Unheard of in this business,” according to Vencel) and was charged with reducing costs per case, decreasing the average turnaround time from 12 down to four days, working closely with Sutter’s Risk Management team, and educating staff on FCRA/CCRAA/ICRAAA (Federal and California State Laws) issues. According to Beghin, the FCRA/CCRAA/ICRAAA compliance required in-depth review and consultation. “Corporate Screening partnered with our legal and risk management departments to work through the interpretive issues and various challenges that accompanied the federal and state law changes,” she states. “Through that effort, we were able to modify our policies and procedures to ensure compliance with the laws.”

Corporate Screening followed up by developing investigative standards for each position within the organization from housekeeping to medical staff, revising documentation to ensure the right information was accompanying investigation requests (which greatly reduced turnaround time), and establishing an internal program that ensured legal compliance in every facet of the background-checking process.

Providing Solutions to Eliminate the Problem

“Corporate Screening analyzed our system, developed processes to streamline that system, and cultivated relationships with Sutter Health affiliates to implement those agreed upon processes,” Vencel explains. “They collaborated with our HR team and Sutter Health affiliates on the management end and transformed an inconsistent, expensive operation into a streamlined process.”

Beghin and Vencel attribute much of Sutter Health’s recent success in background screening to the working relationship their office has with Corporate Screening account representatives. “We’ve surveyed our HR leadership group system wide and Corporate Screening has received very high marks in the areas of quality, responsiveness turnaround, reporting and access to information,” Beghin points out. “This partnership certainly works to our advantage.”

“Corporate Screening has gone the extra step in servicing our account,” Vencel adds. “Their communication with us is excellent, the quality of their reporting is outstanding, and they’re meeting and exceeding our expectations. They’ve gone as far as opening an office in California and devoting a full-time employee to serve Sutter Health’s needs. In doing so they’ve made a firm commitment to invest in the partnership with our company.”

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