• To Assess or not to Assess - Psychometric Assessments. A topic of Praise and Criticism
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To Assess or not to Assess - Psychometric Assessments. A topic of Praise and Criticism

19 June 2017

By Stefan van Eeden

Many organisations proclaim that their people are their greatest assets. Investments in their staff’s development and true understanding and alignment with the organisation, however is not always considered. Through psychometric assessments we can understand the person behind the staff member much better, knowing their values, beliefs, personality traits and abilities.

All too often psychometric assessments become a tick-box exercise and part of the recruitment process, without any contribution or additional value add. It becomes a grudge-expense in organisations, as nobody can see or experience a Return on Investment (ROI) on money allocated to assessments.

To explain the current and popular views on psychometry and psychometric assessments, we focus on a few pointers below.

The upside of psychometric assessments (when used to really understand and develop staff):

  • People are able to understand their own strengths, development areas and personality or behaviour.
  • Potential employers understand their candidates better and identify in advance how the individual’s culture will fit in to the company’s culture.
  • Culture fit with the organisation is based on science, not opinion.
  • Continuous recruitment for the same positions will start to decrease as the right person is found instead of getting anyone suitable to fill the void. This is the first indication of ROI.
  • Ability and personality fit is now based on science and no longer opinions.
  • This leads to enhanced decision making for executives and HR heads on their staff for recruitment and succession management.
  • An increased understanding of the self leads to the employees feeling that this is an investment in them personally and not only as part of a tick-box exercise.

When psychometric assessments are used as part of a tick-box exercise and not effectively, they receive criticism because:

  • People participating in assessments often suffer from Assessment fatigue due to many and repetitive assessments.
  • There are many assessments measuring very similar attributes, and for different organisations or divisions, you often need to complete different assessments measuring the same things.
  • There are many different reports available to psychologists and line managers, and it is often difficult to interpret these reports to make sense in a simple and understandable manner.
  • Information from reports may seem too complicated to interpret.
  • Different sets of assessments do not easily integrate with other assessments and integrated reports doesn’t seem to address this issue.
  • Candidates may feel they don’t get a clear view of themselves and that they don’t get an opportunity to show their abilities and skills to the prospective employer.
  • All of this leads to the perception that these assessments don’t really add value.
  • Business operations and finance does not seem to get a ROI from these assessments, thus questioning why they should carry on using costly tools for seemingly no purpose.

From the upside and criticisms above it is clear to see that the first question a company should ask is not “should we assess?”, but “what do we want to achieve through this assessment?”. By asking this, the true reason comes forward, after which the science and information from the assessments can be shared with the affected parties, to enhance decision making.

In the end proof of a ROI should exist.

  1. Reduction in recruitment cost: to recruit a new person is often calculated as the combination of a 10-15% of annual cost to the recruiter, 2 months to settle in and understand the role, and another 2 months before they contribute to the business. That easily comes down to 6 – 12 months of their cost. By reducing the number of times we need to recruit the same vacancy because of enhancing decision making through psychometric assessments, we instantly save on this recruitment cost.
  2. Looking for specific skills and abilities: often in organisations we look for specific skills (logical, analytical, strategic thinkers). If psychometric assessments are used effectively in an organisation, we can instantly see which people and skills are available within the business without having to look outside of the business. Again, recruitment costs and time to fill the role gets eliminated, thus contributing to ROI. This does not even consider the motivation that internal staff gets when they know they are being considered and that the assessments mean something other than ticking a box.
  3. Reducing staff turnover: any seasoned HR Professional will very easily explain why companies don’t want a high staff turnover, and what the financial benefits are of retaining talent and employees. Effective psychometric assessments will allow you to reduce staff turnover as we can continuously identify what motivates and drive people and what we can offer them (other than money) to remain loyal and satisfied in the organisation.

The solution that BDO HR Advisory Services offer:

  • Considering that assessments conducted without a specific purpose is a useless exercise, we first need to understand why assessments are done in your business and what you aim to achieve through the results.
  • The set of assessments used is complimentary, in order for them to measure different attributes on the same individual.
  • The assessments and subsequent reports are considered and then combined and integrated in a simple line-manager report with the core information required by HR heads and operational managers.
  • The results are used only for the original purpose and with the consent of the assessed individuals. Not stepping over legal boundaries is critical to creating a healthy assessment environment.
  • Feedback to the candidates is a critical aspect, as candidates who receive feedback and have discussions with a professional often see more value in these assessments. They believe that the organisation is investing in them and making the best possible decisions.
  • Psychometric assessment results are used as a starting point, without discrediting competency based interview questions and reference checks.

It is easy to see that the provider of psychometric assessment in your company should not only be a supplier, but also a business partner to understand your needs (assessment and reporting) and to recommend the best and most cost effective solutions.

If you would like to get more information on assessments and how BDO HR Advisory Services can support your business, please contact svaneeden@bdo.co.za.

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