Here’s your desk & there’s the bathroom. Now get to work.

Here’s your desk & there’s the bathroom. Now get to work.

You just hire a new employee and have invested 2 months of your valuable time going through the selection and hiring process. There is a total of 100 hours invested in hiring your star programmer, costing your company $35,000 – $50,000. The team is super excited to get this person on on-board. Their skills are exactly what was missing and will take a lot of pressure of them because they have be understaffed for 3 ½ months.

The newest member of your team is very nervous about leaving their last company but came because the money was a little better and the projects seemed exciting. They arrive at the front lobby for their first day and you receive a call from the receptionist announcing their arrival. You are in a middle of a conference call with some executives.  You call your Lead Developer to get the newest staff member and, you say, “Peter, please get Sally from reception and show them around.”

An hour later, you make your way over to Sally and you find her on the internet looking at job postings.

90% of an employee’s decision to stay with a company happens within the first 6 months of joining! Yet, 60% of companies have no formal on-boarding process.

A proper on-boarding plan reduces this by 18%, reducing turnover and mistakes resulting from lack of training.  In addition, companies who have formal on-boarding plans reduce the time it takes to get to full productivity by 50%, down from 6-8 months to less than 100 days.

Companies have taken some interesting steps to amalgamate new staff into the fold. For example Facebook  tape a piece of paper on the monitor: “Welcome to Facebook!” Underneath, printed in big, bold, red letters, are slogans like: “We hack therefore we are,” or “Move fast and break things.” “Within days, your software code will be in front of more than 845 million users”.

The best companies have a clear plan and process. These companies have increased retention, increased moral, increased productivity, strong team bond and greater loyalty to the company and its brand.

Here are 10 innovative things companies are doing to help acclimatise new staff:

  1. WAP (Welcome Aboard Party): This is an event held by the company or department where all the staff celebrates the arrival of the newest team members. The party has music, food and drinks. Think of the bonds this would create for everyone involved!
  2. Start Buddy: The company has volunteers from the new employee’s department to partner with them for the first 4 weeks. The individuals give them tours, offer advice, answer basic questions, assist with training and provide reports to management.
  3. Friday Starts: Many companies like to have their new employees start on a Friday. This is the day most staff are open and relaxed. Also, this gives the new staff a rest before they start their training on Monday.
  4. Meeting with President: Every employee gets to meet the President of the company within their first 2 weeks. The larger the company the more impressive it is, with large companies, the President will meet the new hires in a large group, but still shaking their hands.
  5. Swag: Many companies provide new hires with a lot a company swag, including pens, clothing, mugs, note pads, key chains and other need items; this builds excitement of being part of the company and is a great branding opportunity.
  6. Welcome Sign: At the front entrance, there is a personalized welcome sign for each new employee.
  7. Deliverable Checklist: A road map of expectations and deliverables by the newest staff member, this enables them to check things off upon completion leaving the sense of accomplishment.
  8. Onboarding Feedback Survey: At the end of the first 3 months, an employee will receive a survey to critique the process and offer areas of improvement.
  9.  Everything ready for the first day: When a staff member joins they are lost looking for a home to settle into. If their space is set up with a fully functional computer, training manual and welcome package, they feel at home.
  10. Early Onboard: Providing materials for the employee before they officially start will allow them to become familiar with the company and their role.

Again, the employee retention statistics are horrifying and by themselves are reason enough to be upset with HR, but it takes a community to raise an employee. You have a great opportunity to improve the retention and performance numbers in your organization by rethinking how we design new hire training programs to consider the entire on-boarding experience.

What have you done to improve how your organization onboards new employees? 

Do Personality Tests Work for Screening Candidates?

We received a great question from one of our clients that we did not immediately know the answer to: “Do personality tests work?”  This question puzzled us so we decided to do what most of us do with a puzzle, go to the internet. The search for information yielded some interesting results that I want to share with you. One very surprising result was the number of hits for pages created on “how to beat a personality test”.

This month’s CIO letter will review the pros and cons of Pre-Employment Testing.

Pre-Employment Testing, as the name implies, refers to all the testing that is done prior to delivering an employment offer. This includes personality, drug, aptitude, intelligence & emotion quotient testing; and criminal background, education and reference checks.

We found significant amounts of misleading and biased information regarding Pre-Employment Testing online. Organizations who sell these services produce most of the information on the subject. There are hundreds of different types of pre-employment assessments ranging from honesty & integrity tests to management evaluations that measure career competency. There are also clinically oriented psychological profile tests and assessments, which are diagnostic in nature.

We can’t cover all areas of Pre-Employment Testing in this letter as the subject is so expansive. Instead, the areas we will cover are aptitude, intelligence, personality, and behavioural testing. On the surface, this type of screening appears to valid. Take your top people (the employees you most want to replicate), look at their test scores, and use those to build a baseline or ideal profile. Then, use this profile to create a candidate filter.

However, when you step back to look at highly successful individuals, use will note they possess great diversity of profiles and personalities. Just look at successful CEOs and their varied personalities.  Jack Welsh and Steve Jobs are both viewed without dispute as successful yet their profiles and approaches are very different.  Screening using these methods may eliminate the next Steve or Jack because an individual like them won’t fit precisely into a mould. This would be a tragic loss for any company.

Research has shown that cognitive aptitude tests are much more accurate predictors of job performance than other widely used employee selection techniques. For example, a comprehensive evaluation of peer-reviewed studies regarding the predictive validity of various selection techniques concluded that aptitude tests are twice as predictive as job interviews, three times as predictive as experience, and four times as predictive as education level.

Behavioural testing provides for a more predictable outcome when screening applicants for employment when used in conjunction with behavioural interviewing techniques. By using validated employment tests and assessment tools, a company can add objectivity, especially regarding management evaluations, and remove unintentional bias.

Job fit is very important and many companies use behavioural interview questions to match the candidate with the job. You want to know that a management candidate has good communication and interpersonal skills, but you also want to know about their overall leadership skills and management potential. What about the candidate’s customer service skills, his sales skills or his emotional intelligence? Doesn’t the interviewer have enough to focus on without going into so much detail in the short time allocated to complete the interview? Well, that is the whole point behind the use of pre-employment assessments.

Most of the articles that you have probably read pertain to the use of psychological profile testing and assessment. There is a major difference between non-invasive pre-employment testing assessments and clinically oriented psychological testing assessments. Most of the assessment instruments involved in litigation are “restricted use,” meaning psychological assessments that generally should not be used in the business environment.

Personality tests are least accurate since they only measure different attitudes about items. A general attitude about something is not able to predict accurately how a person will react to various business situations. These tests cannot predict behaviour because behaviour is context sensitive. People act differently in different environments. For example, in a support role when there is a backlog of issues, people will react differently on a sunny Friday afternoon in the summer than they will on a rainy Monday morning in the middle of winter.

There is an attempt to associate success with specific personality types. In fact, personality requirements are different for different jobs. Rarely do any of the tests customize their recommendations by job type or environment. It is simply, “this person may (or may not) succeed.” In actuality, people are not as cut and dry. Furthermore, there are generational changes that occur over time. Thus, if an organization uses the same profile for 10 years the predictability may drop.

About 65% of all employers use some sort of pre-employment screening. Organizations must review their testing annually and determine what success looks like in using testing. Many of our clients swear by them while others have mixed results. So to answer our question: “Do Personality Tests Work?”, there is no definitive conclusion , but rather it boils down to a company’s decision.  If  your organization uses this type of testing, the key is not to rely on the test as the sole screening criteria to hire a candidate, but rather as an additional tool in the hiring toolbox.