Using Assessments for Hiring, Retention, and Employee Development

The high turnover rate of direct care staff in the behavioral health and intellectual and developmental disability fields is a challenge all providers face. Not only is turnover harmful to the people you serve, it is also expensive.  For example, the average cost of hiring and onboarding a new DSP is estimated at $4,000. One tool for decreasing turnover is personnel assessments, which can help you hire better employees and retain your best employees.

For example, pre-hire situational assessments can guide you in choosing the right candidates. They evaluate how one’s judgment influences their interactions with others, especially in negative situations or when the “right” thing to do is ambiguous.

Situational assessments can quantify such characteristics as compassion, empathy, reliability, and integrity. Because you serve individuals who may have experienced trauma as well be vulnerable to abuse and exploitation, it is important for you to have confidence that the staff you employ have the characteristics of a person who gives excellent care.

Human services organizations can also use knowledge assessments, which measure technical or professional expertise and knowledge related to a specific job, role, or position. Once you have a grasp of that employee’s unique strengths and areas of improvement, you can tailor the onboarding process so their training is quicker and more effective.

Such assessments can be useful throughout your organization. Let’s say you are hiring a new Qualified Intellectual Disabilities Professional (QIDP). Knowledge and situational assessments may reveal that they are rock solid in their understanding of person-centered planning, but they lack leadership skills. In the behavioral health field, you may be hiring additional substance abuse counselors; wouldn’t it be valuable for both hiring and onboarding to know which areas of candidate knowledge are lacking and need additional training and supervision to meet job requirements?

Why waste their time and yours providing training on something they already know? Instead, you can use their on-boarding time to train them on concepts and skills they need, not ones they already have.

In addition to identifying strengths and areas of improvement in new employees, knowledge assessments can enable you to create personalized developmental plans for existing employees at all levels, giving them the chance to grow within your organization. Targeted development opportunities can, in tandem with other initiatives, increase employee engagement, which can help reduce your turnover rate. The 2017 Gallup State of the American Workplace report shows that having engaged employees can contribute to a 59-percent reduction in turnover.

This personalized approach to onboarding generally results in two outcomes:

1) Onboarding time is shortened

If you are able to reduce the amount of training the new employee needs prior to being considered job-ready, you can also reduce total onboarding time, which saves you money.

2) Onboarding becomes more focused and engaging

Using this personalized onboarding approach shows new employees that you are invested in their growth and that you care about providing them with the support they need to succeed. You can cut out most of the redundant material they already demonstrate competence in and instead present them with challenging material that develops and expands their skills.

Justin Hess

Senior Industrial/Organizational Psychologist, pymetrics

Justin received his Masters of Science in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from Alliant International University and is currently pursuing his doctorate in the same discipline. He has almost 10 years of experience in working with organizations for the purposes of assessment, selection, training, organizational and leadership development, and project management. In these roles, he has directly hired and developed over 85 internal personnel, while also acting as a liaison and directing projects for over 100 external personnel. In the realm of learning, Justin has taught university courses on talent, staffing, and selection, and he has reviewed, managed, or written content for over 400 eLearning courses. Justin is currently the Product Manager for Assessments at Relias.

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