HR Study: Gig Economy is Impacting Hiring and Staffing Practices

A new study of more than 300 human resources professionals suggests stronger job candidate screening programs are needed as a result of the gig economy.

The study was conducted by’s Research Institute and Sterling, a company that provides background and identity services. The study covers screening, identity verification, drug screening, continuous monitoring and social media checks of contingent workers, such as freelancers or independent contractors and consultants.

The study surveyed 300 HR professionals representing employers that range from small businesses with less than 50 employees to enterprises with more than 20,000 employees.

“With the growing gig economy, identity fraud issues and changing drug laws, the modern HR team must be informed, resourceful and forward-thinking. Among the tools available that maximize safety and minimize risk are continuous monitoring, social media checks and biometrics scanning,” says Debbie McGrath, CEO of

Among the study’s findings:

  • The gig economy affects hiring and staffing practices, say 64% of respondents, with the screening of contingent workers raising a variety of concerns, including confusion about laws and regulations.
  • Nearly half (48%) report at least one instance of employment identity fraud, while a majority (69%) do not incorporate fingerprinting into their screening process for new hires.
  • Despite marijuana legalization in some areas, nearly half (46%) report still screening all employees for marijuana. Meanwhile, 23% say they’ve stopped screening for it, 15% screen only for certain types of jobs, and 4% screen only in regions where it is still illegal.
  • Among respondents who engage in continuous employee background screening, 62% say it lowers organizational risk, 38% say it has uncovered criminal activity and 18% say it has uncovered fraud.
  • Screening candidates through social media is used by 20% of respondents; 50% expect that over the next several years, there will be greater acceptance of this practice.