Prediction: Assessment will go mainstream for engaging, hiring, developing, and retaining workers


Finding and keeping good talent has been a challenge for organizations since the dawn of the first Industrial Revolution—and it continues to this day. Deloitte’s 2019 Human Capital Trends research demonstrates this: 70 percent of respondents cited recruitment as important, and 16 percent said it was one of three most urgent issues their organizations would face this year.1 Across every industry sector, talent acquisition (TA) and business leaders are struggling to hire talent that sticks. Retention strategies are often reactive, relatively scarce, and disconnected from organizations’ recruitment initiatives.

In a competitive talent market with a socially conscious and highly selective candidate pool, recruiting teams need to be more data-driven in order to keep up with organizational demand without sacrificing quality of hire. TA must fundamentally reinvent its approach to hiring through a focus on accessing capabilities and optimizing tools and technology. Yet, despite understanding this need, the TA function is often resistant to experiment and change.

In 2020, this shifting focus will be the new imperative for the TA function. As enterprises evolve and adopt more data-driven approaches to talent selection and development, assessment technologies will become increasingly prominent. Such innovations are long overdue, according to our High-Impact Talent Acquisition research:2

Only 23 percent of organizations are effective or very effective at leveraging cognitive applications.
As few as 16 percent of organizations are effective or very effective at using analytics-enabled applications.
Merely 8 percent of organizations are effective or very effective at embedding artificial intelligence and machine learning into the TA process.
Reinventing the Hiring Process through Assessment Tools
Organizations continue to bear the burden of their own ineffective talent practices (e.g., gut hires, unstructured interviews), but there is an alternative to this approach—or lack thereof. Empirical evidence strongly supports that hiring for culture fit and conducting structured interviews focused on assessing skills, capabilities, and values can lead to better hiring decisions and positive talent outcomes, all of which impact the bottom line.3 But recruiters are still wired to hire to one opening and then quickly move on to the next requisition without truly considering the potential downstream impact of these hiring decisions. Time to fill tends to win out over quality of hire, mainly because it’s easier to measure and claim success. Both are important, yet these goals have become disconnected in many organizations. How can organizations address this gap?

Enter psychometric assessment, which will finally help bridge the divide between recruitment and employee retention in 2020. Psychometric assessments will empower TA teams to more fully evaluate talent prospects, helping them understand the whole person—beyond just demonstrated skills and education—behind the resume. These new tools can enable recruiters to assess unique human capabilities such as empathy and curiosity, as well as identify talent that is likely to fit well with an organization’s culture and thrive in a particular context—all in a fraction of the time and with greater clarity and accuracy than current “gut instinct” methods. By leveraging science-based predictions, recruiters can reduce the potential for misjudgments in the screening process and begin to assemble an internal talent marketplace that is the right fit for both open jobs today and enterprise needs in the future. Organizations already recognize the impact of a bad hire, but in most cases, this is caught too late. With a keen focus on assessments in the early stages of talent pool development, recruiters will begin to uncover more about the behaviors and motivators of successful employees—and focus their efforts accordingly.

Additionally, by sharing the key insights that assessments reveal about human capabilities (e.g., willingness to experiment, adaptable thinking, openness and inclusion), the TA team can also begin to break down organizational silos and unlock unprecedented opportunities. The role of talent acquisition can then shift from a transactional “conveyor belt” to a valued connector across the organization, using its unique position to identify key talent opportunities across functions. For example, adaptable workers seeking growth can find the right opportunities within the organization instead of looking elsewhere; organizations can identify potential leaders based on their capacity for empathy or collaboration rather than just rewarding high individual performance. This creates the critical linkage to internal mobility that has previously eluded so many TA teams. Connecting candidate data with future-focused talent management initiatives will strengthen TA’s position across the HR suite, differentiate the organization’s hiring approach, and help the business prepare for the future of work.

Organizations trying to stay competitive should incorporate assessments as part of the top-of-funnel sourcing process. With richer data and validated insights, the TA function can have the clarity needed to deliver an intentional and fully integrated talent strategy. TA teams can fully optimize their impact by hiring the right people for the right roles, driving better retention outcomes at scale. Once TA leaders learn how to balance data with intuition—blending human interactions with augmented solutions—the function will be able to better deliver a less homogenous and more effective pool of talent, and one that fits and stays put.

If you are interested in learning more about this topic, Bersin will be launching research in early 2020 that explores the key trends in the prehire assessment technology market.

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