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Organizations Can Use Assessments to Bridge the Skills Gap

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(Editor’s Note: Today’s post is brought to you by our friends at Criteria Corp, a leading provider of pre-employment testing services. They recently launched an app called JobFlare (iOS, FREE) that allows users to play “brain games” that are scientifically created to test the cognitive abilities that are considered the key predictors of job success. Enjoy the post!)

According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) report “The New Talent Landscape: Recruiting Difficulty and Skills Shortages”, 68 percent of HR professionals are having trouble recruiting candidates for full-time positions. In addition, more than half say that the reason is candidates don’t have the skills for the jobs they’re applying for.

This skills gap is causing businesses to turn down projects because they don’t have either 1) enough talent to do the work or 2) the right talent to make it happen. The Association for Talent Development (ATD) released a white paper on Bridging the Skills Gap and reported that 87 percent of organizations felt the skills gap was impacting customer service delivery and business growth.

At some point, organizations need to realize that they must make an investment in employee training and development to get the talent they’re looking for. Obviously, turning away business isn’t the answer. And waiting for someone to apply with the perfect resume is probably not feasible either.

Organizations Can Use a 3-Strategy Approach to Recruitment

We’ve talked before about using a 3-strategy approach to recruitment: Buy, Build, and Borrow.

BUY is where the company hires talent from the outside. The advantage to this approach is that the organization gets fresh perspectives and new ideas. The disadvantage is that it can be expensive to attract good talent from the outside.

BUILD is when the company develops talent from within. The upside is that this strategy is great for employee morale. The downside is that developing talent takes time. It also means having the training resources available.

BORROW is using freelancers or consultants when the need arises. Not every job is a full-time job, so the pro to this approach is getting the necessary talent at the moment it’s needed. The con is keeping freelancers engaged so when you need them, they’re available for you and ready to work.

While I’ve presented these strategies separately, organizations don’t have to utilize these three strategies that way. For example, an organization can “buy” the best talent then “build” their skills. But for organizations to successfully blend recruitment strategies, they should determine those skills that the candidate absolutely needs to have and the skills that can be developed once someone gets hired.

Use Assessments as Part of Your Recruitment Strategy

To help assess a candidate’s potential, organizations can use assessments. We’re not talking about tests that assess the skills that the candidate already has – like, does the candidate know how to create a pivot table in Microsoft Excel. Those tests are important but they are not the most predictive of on-the-job performance.

The most predictive tests, meaning the ones that evaluate a candidate’s potential, are cognitive aptitude and personality tests. Cognitive aptitude tests are used to determine pure cognitive potential to learn complex subjects. Personality tests measure how well someone’s personality fits with a type of role.

Combined, these two assessments help companies find productive employees who are more likely to be retained because they are better suited to the role. I realize that it might not seem exactly intuitive that these two types of tests, which at first glance, are testing abilities that don’t seem directly related to the role, are more predictive than skills tests, but there’s research to back it up.

Criteria Corp, assessments, assessment, skills gap, bridge, skill gap, recruitment, recruiting

Case Study: Cognitive Aptitude Tests Predict Success in Training Programs

I’m a fan of empirical research, but I asked our friends at Criteria Corp if they could share a couple of real-life case studies. I really wanted to see practical examples of how cognitive aptitude tests were used as effective predictors of learning potential. That way, organizations can consider using them during recruitment to determine if candidates have the potential to learn what’s necessary to be successful on the job. They shared with me two that I thought were very relatable:

  1. The company used the CCAT (Criteria Corp’s cognitive aptitude test) to help them predict who would make it through an intensive financial services training program. The results were impressive. Of the highest scorers on the test, 49 of 49 (100 percent) made it through training successfully. Of the lowest scorers, only 9 of 20 (45 percent) did. This supports how predictive of learning ability the CCAT is, and why aptitude tests can be a predictor of how likely a candidate would be to satisfactorily complete training and learn new things once they are on the job.
  1. A call center that used a personality test designed for sales positions to increase their revenue-per-day. The results showed that sales consultants who were recommended by the test earned significantly more revenue-per-day than those who were not recommended by the test. I know sometimes personality tests aren’t given the same level of attention as aptitude tests but they can play an important role. Criteria Corp shared with me that the Openness trait in the Five Factor Model of Personality (also known as Big Five or FFM) is commonly associated with intellectual curiosity, which has an impact on trainability.

Assessments Can Help Employers Close the Skills Gap

Employers who are willing to hire talent based on measurements of potential are more likely to be able to close the skills gap themselves through training. They can hire employees faster because they’re not waiting for the “perfect” candidate. They’ve found a very talented candidate that they can train.

In addition, organizations can engage new hires immediately because the company is demonstrating an immediate interest in the employee’s success. This results in faster time-to-productivity and a positive impact on the bottom-line. If you want to learn more about cognitive aptitude and personality assessments and the positive impact it can have on your recruitment strategy, download Criteria Corp’s Definitive Guide to Pre-Employment Testing. Trust me, this is a comprehensive guide that you will want to keep on the corner of your desk for reference.

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The post Organizations Can Use Assessments to Bridge the Skills Gap appeared first on hr bartender.

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About Mildred Blankson

I am a Human Resource Professional with a Masters Degree in Human Resource Management. I have several years of experience in Human Resources and i hope this blog will be a great resource in helping you find the perfect job or candidate that you seek.

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How to Leverage Company Benefits to Recruit and Retain Top Talent

One-third of organizations have increased their overall benefit offerings in 2016, according to a research report compiled by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). As recruiting and retaining top talent continue to become increasingly difficult for employers, robust benefit packages play a key role. When salaries and perks (think: free lunch) are nearly equal from company to company, employees are likely to opt for the company that offers the best benefits and greatest opportunities.

Medical and financial benefits aside, employees are looking for lifestyle and career benefits. SHRM reported that the top reason employers increased benefits in 2016 was to remain competitive in the marketplace—and the three biggest focus areas for change were in the health (22%), wellness (24%), and professional and career development (16%) categories. Robust benefit packages that include career development, health and wellness, and flexible working options provide a platform for employers to stand out. Nearly one-third of employees look for external positions because they desire “overall better benefits,” second only to higher compensation.

The type of benefits you offer speaks volumes on how you treat and support employees, which always manifests by way of your external employer brand. It’s not enough to say “we have great benefits,” because “great benefits” are now table stakes. Companies have mastered the art of talking about perks, from catered lunches to team building activities. Failure to talk about the real support and development opportunities you offer to employees might translate to missed opportunities. So how can hiring managers and recruiters promote employee benefits to help with recruiting and retention?

#1: Kick “industry standard” out of your vocabulary

When recruiters and hiring managers list their company’s benefits and summarize with the catch-all phrase, we offer “industry standard” benefits, it’s not enough. When all else—compensation, vacation days, and perks—are even, offering a standard benefits package won’t help your company standout enough to secure commitment from a top employee. Even though it might be tempting to default to a quick response, it pays to provide more detail about the benefits your company offers, in length, during the interview process.

And even more importantly than providing a laundry list of benefits (but kudos to you for that list!), explain how these benefits fit in with core company values. For example, if you offer flexible work arrangements and flexible hours, explain that these arrangements support your company’s value of work-life balance. If you provide a gym membership or showers at work, talk about how it enhances company culture or creates opportunities for employees to get the exercise they desire in a convenient way.. When recruits begin to see how your benefits support their shared values and interests, they’ll see the benefits you offer are much greater than “industry standard.”

Employers hoping to keep a competitive edge are offering more than the “industry standard” at every stage of the employee journey, including at severance – according to a recent study by RiseSmart. If you’re on the cutting edge of severance offerings, use those benefits to differentiate your company form the competition.

#2: Talk about goals in the recruiting and interview process

Before an employee is even hired, find out what they’re looking for in their employer and what their short and long term goals are. Ask questions like, “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” and “How are you hoping your employer will support you along your career journey?” Employees, many of whom are seeking opportunities for career development and continuing education, need to know you plan to invest in their individual career goals.

A Career Builder survey found that 45% of employees, regardless of generation, plan to stay with their employer for less than two years. During their tenure, they expect to benefit and grow with each new role and and at each new company. It’s important to convey to prospective employees that you invest in each individual employee, regardless for how long they plan to stay in the role for which they are being hired.

#3: Amplify the employee voice

Remind employees early on that they have a voice to share about company culture and employee benefits. Glassdoor, for example, recommends employers invite new hires to reflect on their first few months at the company. Whether this leads to internal feedback or a public review, it can assist efforts aimed at creating a positive employer brand.

L’Oréal recently launched a #LifeatLoreal hashtag to encourage employees to share photos of their experiences at work. The campaign all stemmed from the idea that people would trust their peers on social media when it came to L'Oréal being a great place to work. Employees posted a wide variety of pictures, including snapshots of various benefits and perks in action—such as flex days and catered lunches. Encourage employees to share the experiences they enjoy the most on the social channel of their choice.

#4: Keep employees engaged with benefits

On average, salary is only about 70% of an employee’s total compensation. When employees don’t take advantage of the benefits offered by the company, it’s equivalent to leaving 30% of the total compensation package on the table. Employers who keep employees engaged with benefits are more likely to see benefits manifest as part of the employer brand. An employee is highly unlikely to leave a Glassdoor review that mentions a positive benefit if she has never actually utilized the benefit.

Try hosting monthly or quarterly Q&A sessions to discuss available benefits. When you roll out a particularly hefty benefit, such as a new 401K offering, or an update to parental leave policy, give employees ample opportunity to ask questions. You could also share success stories from employees who have taken advantage of a particularly niche benefit, such as an hour of free lawyer services, to showcase how the benefit is used and encourage other employees to check it out.

#5: Benefits are the forgotten negotiation tool

If you are a hiring manager or recruiter engaging with a candidate, think beyond salary, or equity. Everything is negotiable, from vacation days to health insurance choices. Savvy employees, especially as the war for talent continues to heat up, will use benefits as negotiation tools—but don’t shy away from doing the same thing on the employer side. It’s often easier to offer more benefits than to secure additional salary for an employee.

Don’t be afraid to talk about your full complement of benefits, including your severance benefits. Prospective employees may feel more comfortable about joining a company that will take care of them, in the event of a downsizing or restructuring event. You may want to consider offering perks like outplacement and career transition services to employees who leave voluntarily as well as those who are involuntary subjects of a layoff. Knowing that you are invested in their career, even after they leave, will help you create a workforce of dedicated, engaged, and satisfied employees.

The world is small and everyone is connected. When you invest in employees, it leads to a positive employer brand. In the new Employee Relationship Economy, former employees will someday become vendors, customers, brand evangelists, recruiting references, or even boomerang employees. In a world where the employee/employer relationship is no longer finite, it’s important to convey your full support for employees’ career endeavors at every stage of their career journeys -- beginning early in the recruiting and interview process.

In every recruiting conversation, highlight your dedication to each employee’s career. When you frame up your organization’s benefits in context of how they fit in with the employee’s journey, it’s easy for the candidate to see how your company would support his journey. Communication about employee benefits can go a long way in the recruiting process—and will have a direct impact on your employer brand. If you offer much more than “industry standard,” you should be screaming it from the rooftops. Your current and prospective employees deserve to understand just how committed you are to their personal and professional journey.

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