How modern employee assessment technology helps us be a better company

The General Manager of Projectline, Damian Hoffman, and I have worked together for more than 11 years. And in those many years, we have dreamt up our integrated and innovative business solutions of the future. Some were often far out of our reach and we called them our “Business Fantasies.” We two are just the type to have business fantasies. You know the kind, “Imagine if you entered data into Y location, if it bi-directionally updated the 6 different places this data lives and is needed, provided alerts if it hadn’t been updated in 3 months, to the owner which would be tracked by updates already made to Z system, and then auto updated reports built in PowerPoint just in time for quarterly business reviews” type of fantasies.

Some business fantasies related to recruiting have sounded something like this: “What if we were able to document characteristics of our top consultants to make hiring people like them possible? What if we could measure people on essential qualities before we spent hours culling through hundreds of resumes and before we were exposed to data that might trigger implicit biases? What if we could increase employee satisfaction and reduce turnover or burnout by placing them on assignments and with clients we know are match for their work preferences and styles?

Sometimes our business fantasies were practical and sometimes whimsical, but in the case of recruiting, it turns out they were achievable. We have turned these business fantasies into reality using Pre-Employment Assessments. Now if that sounds like a snooze fest, wait! It isn’t really! Because they also make us a better company. And when I say better company, I mean in all the ways that really count: better for our clients, better for our employees, better for our bottom line, and better for the greater good.

Our partner, Berke Assessments, helps us measure thousands of pieces of data so we can identify the traits that correlate with success in specific roles with specific clients. The cognitive portion of the assessments are better than resumes at predicting job performance and the psychometric portions add a key layer of insight into what type of environment a person will flourish. This is why we do it:

For our clients

Our job is to find, retain, grow, and provide on-demand talent, exactly when our clients need them for the exact duration they need them. Not only should this talent bring real value with their expertise, but they should also contribute to the team culture and love being on the assignment, not causing any downtimes in productivity that turnover creates.

We can use an assessment that helps us match a consultant both to a specific job and to the team and leadership dynamics, increasing their chances of success. We can do this with a traditional one-to-one matching process. But we can also let our highest performers serve as benchmarks to create a job profile that helps us find people who have similar traits, so we can purposefully build and grow the team. This is done with data, not just with our guts.

For our people

The process I describe above, of using data to match the employee’s traits to the perfect assignment, has an equally large impact on the employee as it does on our clients. Consultants deserve roles and assignments that they will thrive in and that use their greatest strengths—not ones that force them to betray their instincts to do the work. We want consultants who can take on challenging work, knowing that they are a good match for what they are about to jump into. And for our larger teams, employees benefit from the knowledge that their future teammates will have traits that resemble the strongest of their peers. We are powered by people, and want them to succeed in every assignment.

For our bottom line

We offer pre-employment assessments as an added value to our clients, so we don’t make money off of them. Just because they don’t pay for the reports or for the deep data and technology that allow us to do the benchmarking or matching, doesn’t mean we don’t get a return on this investment. Assessments reduce turnover that occurs when a client is not satisfied with performance or a consultant is miserable on a team. A single unexpected turnover can cost us $3,000 or more in lost revenue and recruiting costs.

But assessments also allow us to spend more time talking to those candidates that we know will be a match, so rather than having interviews with 20 people, we can cut it down to 5. This lets us grow and scale without adding extra overhead costs.

For the greater good

Before this starts to sound entirely self-serving, I’ll let you know the first and most important reason we decided to use pre-employment assessments: to remove unconscious bias (or the human element) from some of our recruiting processes. Unconscious biases play a critical and problematic role in the hiring process that “can stymie diversity, recruiting, promotion, and retention efforts,” says Francesca Gino, professor at Harvard Business School. So we give assessments before our unconscious bias can start parsing applications.

Berke Assessments aim to eliminate bias. Unlike traditional assessments, they measure psychometric data like personal work habits or preferences, along with problem-solving skills that don’t require a specific knowledge foundation. (With the exception of a vocabulary test, which we can use when hiring writers and communications professionals).

Candidates who score high on “job fit” through a Berke Assessment are going to get a call from us, no matter their education level, age, name, alma mater, volunteer activities, or other factors that try to sneak into our brains, urging us to give preference to those who are more like us. And once we are in the interview phase, Berke Assessments creates an interview guide, so we can conduct structured interviews (versus free-form conversations), which also helps us reduce a variety of biases that negatively impact the effectiveness of interviews.

We are driven by technology because we see how this type of tech and big data can positively impact our work, our clients, our people, and our community. Tune in soon for a report on how we chose our pre-employment assessment partner, Berke Assessments, out of a sea of amazing tech companies.

In the meantime, let’s chat on twitter at @AnikaMarketer and @Projectline about The Future Work, assessments, diversity, and inclusion.