Economic Improvement Will Increase Opportunities for Strategic Human Capital Leaders

Reid Klion is Chief Science Officer of pan. Involved with pan since its founding in 2000, he provides psychometric and science-based oversight in the development of technology-based personnel assessment systems and is involved in internal and external consultation on assessment system design, psychometric issues, test content, and test implementation. He is active in industry, scientific, and regulatory affairs and plays a leadership role in a number of professional organizations. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of both the Association of Test Publishers and the International Personnel Assessment Council. A member of the American Psychological Association and the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology, Reid is a graduate of Hobart College and received his doctorate from Miami University.

In the aftermath of the most severe economic downturn since the 1930s, there are signs of improvement including companies holding higher levels of cash, unemployment rates trending downward, and consumer spending increases. This means organizations will eventually be faced with the need to increase staffing levels to meet rising demand.

Many employers have avoided hiring thus far, both to manage costs and avoid prematurely adding to the workforce. However, when hiring resumes, the need for increased staffing could be substantial. It is critical for human capital leaders to invest in the resources required to wisely expand their workforces in an increasingly competitive job market.

Strategic Workforce Planning

The process of strategic workforce planning in its simplest form involves two important steps: clarifying vision and self-study.

As organizations grow, it is beneficial for human capital leaders to help the company clarify its vision and direction. They must facilitate discussions to help reach important decisions about future employee roles and competencies that will be required to realize longer-term initiatives. Unless recruitment, selection, and development processes are aligned with the overall vision, the organization will have little chance of success in achieving its goals.

Leaders must also engage in self-study by examining the strengths and weaknesses of current human capital using metrics such as turnover rates, sales, employee engagement and customer satisfaction data. If the answer to questions about these metrics is “we don’t know” or “we can’t get the data,” this is a warning sign. Not knowing where you are means there is little chance you’ll be able to reach your destination or even know if you’ve arrived. Organizations must be educated on the importance of collecting and using accurate workforce performance metrics.

Operational Improvements

Even if wide-scale change in the workforce is not envisioned, it may be time to look at current hiring processes. This could include completing job analyses, using validated pre-hire assessments and providing great candidate experiences.

It is important from both a hiring and compensation perspective to review information about various job roles to ensure it is consistent with work tasks. Job analyses define the critical knowledge, skills, and abilities that are required for successful performance in a position. This information must be up-to-date and comprehensive so human capital leaders will have a road map in determining if a particular applicant is well-suited for a specific position.

With a good grasp of the key competencies required for success in a job role, the next step is identifying best-fit individuals and one of the most effective ways is the use of psychometric assessments.

There are two basic types of assessments: those that measure what an individual can-do and those that measure what an individual will- do. Assessments that measure can-do, or someone’s best possible performance, are tests of cognitive abilities and job skills while will-do assessments typically measure attitudes and work preferences. Unlike clinical tests used by psychologists and social workers, the assessments used by human capital leaders look at factors that are directly related to the skills and competencies required for a specific job position. Used in this way, organizations can be sure the people they bring on are well-suited for their roles.

A common concern when using assessments is exposure to increased legal liability.  However, any method used to make hiring decisions—résumé reviews, interviews, background checks, etc.—is considered to be a test and held to the same legal standard as the use of assessments. Avoiding assessments to protect the organization from legal issues not only creates a false sense of security but also rules out one of the better methods for identifying qualified candidates. 

Finally, selling the organization as a place candidates will want to work is extremely important in the recruitment and selection process. The most attractive candidates will likely have multiple employment offers, and human capital leaders need to ensure that their organization stands out with a seamless hiring process. Candidates also have the potential to become future customers or influence buying decisions, so a good experience during the recruitment and selection process is vital.

Looking Forward

Human capital leaders need to face the reality of increasing staffing levels head on. Therefore, it is time to help organizations determine how they want to function in the future. Will the organization simply do more of the same or implement a systematic, research-driven approach to identifying individuals who have the greatest potential for success?

Human capital leaders have an opportunity to prove that implementing best-practice talent acquisition processes can help improve their organization’s bottom line.

Check out iCIMS' latest blog post from iCIMS guest blogger Reid Klion.

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