The Essential Guide to Talent Assessment for 2019

April 12, 2019 at 8:00 am

Increasing numbers of HR leaders are using workforce analytics to improve hiring and management outcomes according to the 2019: State of People Analytics report. This is excellent news!

Unfortunately, there are still roadblocks standing between these forward-thinking leaders and their efforts to attract the best people. Too many organizations define ambitious business results but forget to optimize their talent to coach and develop employees effectively reach these goals. If your organization is not intentionally, consistently, and strategically designing high-performing teams and company culture, your firm isn’t doing what it takes to thrive in 2019.

It all starts with your people—attracting top talent and giving them every resource to thrive.

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Consider your company from every angle. Is it performing at a level that makes each stakeholder satisfied? Or are you facing common business challenges like high turnover, employee disengagement, bad hires, and unfilled roles? If the answer is yes, you have a talent gap that is negatively impacting the bottom line via low productivity, low morale, and missed opportunities.

In fact, the talent gap is the single biggest thing preventing organizations from creating the results they need to grow.

Business strategy is 100% driven by your people strategy—and it’s time to use every tool at your disposal to ensure it is firing on all cylinders. If you know it’s time for a new approach, talent optimization is the answer, and talent assessments are the tool that will make it happen.

Without further ado, here is the ultimate guide to talent assessment in 2019. Here, we will explain what talent assessment is, why it’s so valuable for businesses, and which tools can help facilitate your organization’s talent optimization efforts.

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What Is Talent Assessment?

Talent assessment is an initiative—driven by HR but built on buy-in from every business unit—for aligning your organization’s business strategy and your talent strategy so you can achieve your desired business results.

Your organization’s business strategy provides the context that will guide everything you do regarding talent. This includes designing your organization’s structure, attracting and hiring new talent, and evaluating the abilities of your senior leadership team. To work effectively, any talent optimization plan you create must be adopted by every employee.

Why Is Talent Assessment So Important?

When people are engaged at work, great things happen—things that even visionary business leaders can’t predict. Team leaders and new hires go above and beyond their job descriptions to create additional value for their organizations. Engagement is the root of innovation and the seed of excellent customer service. It drives all that is good about your company and its results.

When people are disengaged, on the other hand, they do the bare minimum. This attitude creates a domino effect—problems get exponentially worse and your entire organization contracts. Innovation is stifled. Customer service suffers. Your ability to attract strong talent withers as word gets out about problems with your company culture.

If you don’t have a strong talent assessment and optimization plan, tense teams, unhappy employees, and exiting top performers become an issue. Again, your people are your greatest asset. It all starts with them.

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The Key Elements of Talent Assessment

Talent assessment and optimization has four crucial elements. First, begin by collecting data about your people. People data can include:

  • Information gleaned from pre-hire candidate interviews
  • Employee satisfaction ratings
  • Culture surveys of your organization
  • Personality assessments that measure an individual’s drives and needs

People data helps leaders predict workplace behavior, so you can hire the right candidates, design thriving teams, develop coaching plans, cultivate an enviable culture, and manage employees according to their unique preferences.

Of course, it’s not enough to simply collect people data via regular assessments. Analysis and application of people data are critical for diagnosing problems and finding out what skills are lacking in your talent pool. This leads to the second and third element of talent optimization: designing your organization’s structure and hiring top talent.

When you nail hiring, amazing things happen. People feel energized by their jobs because they are aligned with their own purposes and abilities. High-performing teams and go the extra mile. Performance and engagement climb, each driven by the other.

The talent optimization loop is completed by its fourth key element: inspiring your people. The most successful companies know they must continue to inspire their employees and protect their culture as time passes.

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How Can Talent Assessment Help with Employee Engagement?

Talent assessment programs should be treated just like any other critical initiative, such as budgeting. Have a regular program review cycle. Revisiting the basics of your program on an annual basis to identify and address trends around what’s working and what isn’t. Employee engagement is built on four factors, all of which are aided by the effective deployment of assessments:

  1. Alignment with the job: New hires possess the behavioral traits or cognitive ability needed for on-the-job success. Ask candidates to take a behavioral assessment and a cognitive assessment. Pre-hiring assessments help to remove bias and “gut” decisions from the hiring process. They also help you narrow the field by matching candidates’ results to your targets. In other words, these tools whittle down your shortlist to a small handful of applicants.
  2. Alignment with the manager: Managers have the critical skills or tools to effectively coach and develop employees.
  3. Alignment with the team: Teams have the tools to effectively communicate or collaborate—or receive the coaching or training they need to continue to improve. Assessments can reveal problem areas or teams that require additional support.
  4. Alignment with the culture: Employees connect with a company culture that is committed to eliminating bias in hiring and promoting, and equally committed to growing each team member so that they can reach their full potential. Assessments help with this because they can reveal hidden aptitudes or interests in employees that managers may not have been previously aware of.

Companies that optimize their talent routinely and methodically measure these four factors when making any decisions that involve people. As mentioned above, talent optimizers use behavioral assessments and cognitive assessments as part of the hiring process to ensure candidate job alignment.

Assessments allow you to interview the candidates who are likely to be a great fit for a particular position. Then, once the new hire is established in your company, they assist you in ensuring that the individual is engaged.Four coworkers discussing ideas at a table.

Take Ownership of Talent Optimization

According to a Human Capital Benchmarking Report from the Society for Human Resource Management, the average cost-per-hire is $4,129. However, when you’re accounting for benchmark employee cost, vacant position coverage cost, cost to fill the vacant position, onboarding and orientation costs, and production ramp-up costs, the actual number is much higher—think four times higher.

For example, another turnover cost calculation shows estimated turnover costs for a 200-person company with a 19 percent employee turnover rate (based on an annual employee salary of $50,000) of over $600,000!

HR professionals are generally in charge of anything related to talent management. Unfortunately, most HR employees don’t have the resources needed to optimize talent or improve hiring with the right analytics. Strategic leaders in all business units need to take responsibility for putting talent in the optimal position to get the results you want.

Build Better Teams with Assessments

The most powerful tool of talent optimization in 2019 is effective and regular assessments. Is your organization leveraging this tool to hire the best people? Are you tracking the progress of existing team members? If not, it’s time to get started.