I’m guessing that you would not expect me to write about discontinuing the use of a pre-employment or pre-promotional assessment. But, there are instances when it is appropriate to do so.
For instance, the National Football League (NFL) has decided to stop using an intelligence test that they had been using for years to evaluate new players. I have written about the league’s use of the test before, so I won’t rehash the arguments about it here. However, its reasoning for not using it any more really comes down to:
- They did not feel it was predictive.
- It led to a poor candidate experience (which, to the NFL means bad publicity).
- And those are two very good reasons not to use a test.
Another reason to discontinue the use of a test is when knowledge, skills, abilities, or personal characteristics (KSAPs) required of a job change. At some point, administrative assistants stopped typing pages of documents, so a test of how quickly someone could manipulate a keyboard no longer made sense. Changes in customer dynamics can impact KSAPs as well. When working with a call center client, our validation data showed that personality tests that predicted performance for those taking phone calls were not effective for those who took customer inquiries via e-mail or chat. This led to a change to how the tests were scored depending on the open position.
This does not mean you should automatically drop using assessments because a job changes or has converted to WFH from an office position. However, knowing that for many people WFH is the new normal, it may be time to see if the work has really changed and the if that impacts the KSAPs. If the status quo has held, you have your answer. If there are some changes, then another validation study is likely in order.
The use of assessments, like many HR procedures, tends to take on a life of its own. Once they are in place, there is a lot inertia (we have always done it this way) keeping them there. It does not have to be that way. A good job analysis and validation study can help you modify your testing tools so that you get high value from them.
As COVID cases are dropping and the vaccines are available, companies are looking to see when (if?) they are going to bring people back to offices. There are likely to be all kinds of flavors of this, ranging from:
- We want everybody back, Monday through Friday.
- We need some people back full time, others can still WFH.
- Everyone needs to be in the office 2-3 times a week and WFH the rest.
- Everyone can stay WFH, but those who prefer to come in can.
- Everyone stays WFH
And these don’t include flexible hours, people staying part-time, etc. There are going to be a LOT of models. There is no one best way for every company, but there are some consistent steps you will want to consider as you manage work schedules changes (again). These include:
- Consider ALL of your stakeholders. This means listening not just to executives who feel that people are more productive at the office or the employees who feel that they are missing out on promotional opportunities by working from home. Be sure that your support staff (HR, IT, security, etc.) is also in a position to support those who are coming back (or staying home).
- Be clear to everyone about your reasons for the schedule changes. If you have data that supports that teams are more productive in the office, then share it. If you have data that shows that people are still getting promoted at the same rate during WFH, share that, too. And don’t forget health department data on infections, positivity rates, etc. Use good information, rather than anecdotes, drive your decisions and communicate about the data.
- Track metrics of success and adjust the schedules as necessary. Whether it is what was mentioned above, rate of infections, use of PTO, turnover, absenteeism, or something else, have conversations about what success looks like. Then measure progress towards it. The data may allow you to accelerate your plans or alter them in some other way.
- Check in with your stakeholders as the revised policies are implemented. Sometimes we think that people who initially support change will always be in favor of it and those who are resistant stay that way. Keep asking stakeholders what they need to continue to support, or to become supportive, of the changes.
- Communicate the metrics. Whether it’s through an online dashboard or a regular e-mail, keep people apprised of progress (or lack thereof). Transparency helps to control the rumor mill and provides reasons for altering the initial plan.
Going back to “normal” requires the same level of change management skill as implementing something different. Be sure that you apply these techniques to help implement and manage schedule changes as you navigate through COVID.
Going back to “normal” work schedules is going to take as much change management skills as WFH did. Here are some thoughts on implementing the new normal more effectively.