Hiring the right employee: Post-offer employment tests

Tina Wagner PHOTO CREDIT: Contributed

We all want our employees to work smart, be safe and live a healthy lifestyle. We aim to improve the health and wellness of our employees as well as proactively prevent and minimize injuries. And, when injuries occur, it’s important to ensure our employees are back to work safely and in a timely manner.

Speaking of injuries, I am frequently presented with the same questions by clients. How do employers ensure they are hiring the right person for the job’s physical demands? How can they ensure the employee has minimum risk of injury? What can employers do to reduce turnover?

Effective onboarding coupled with ensuring employees meet the physical demands of the job are the keys to successful hiring. Onboarding is the method by which employers ensure that new employees have the tools to be happy and productive in their job and don’t quit.

The onboarding process officially starts before the employee begins work and lasts through the first year of employment. By then, an employer has invested much time and money into the new employee.

Onboarding Mistakes Are Costly

According to the Society for Human Resources Management, employee turnover can be as much as 50% in the first 18 months of employment.

This is a significant number considering the average number of jobs held in one person’s career has increased from six to 11 in the past two decades and the cost for replacing an employee is more than 25% of their annual salary, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Why Do New Employees Quit?

The top reasons include insufficient mentoring (management issue), not fitting in or are bad hires (behavioral issues and hard to predict), or they can’t master new skills (cognitive issue/expensive or difficult to test for).

More commonly, new hires cannot maintain the level of productivity required because they lack the necessary level of physical strength or stamina (a physical and preventable issue). The solution for this issue is easy, cost-effective, and legal — post offer employment tests, or POETs.

POETs are Easy to Develop and Implement

In speaking with our clients, I strive to assist them to find ideal candidates by way of an organized process. To get started, a client completes a Job Demand Analysis that identifies the physical demands or job replication tests associated with the essential functions of each job description.

A physical therapist can provide analysis including objective measurements of lifting/handling and positional requirements. With this information, a client writes a custom job description reflecting the physical demands associated with each essential function of the job. The POET is then developed and validated prior to implementation with new hires.

This can be achieved by “testing the testing” on seasoned employees familiar with the job and whom can confirm that all physical demands are adequately reflected in the testing. Once the POET is validated, testing can be implemented with new hires to determine if they have the physical capacity to meet the essential demands of the job or if the new hire requires accommodations to safely perform the job.

POETS are acceptable and meet legal requirements provided they are job-specific, consistent with business necessity and employer policy, valid and reliable, and identify physical accommodations, when needed. On average, 85-95% of new hire candidates pass the POET without need for accommodations in order to perform the job without risk to their safety or the safety of others.

Return on Investment

Clients implementing a POET immediately see an improvement in employee retention rate and reduction of work injuries. Many clients have also implemented Fit-for-Duty testing following time out of work for non-work related health issues to ensure the employee remains able to meet the physical demands of his or her job assignment, reducing risk for injury upon return. Many companies see a return on their investment within the first year of implementation.