Burke's Blog

Assessments, Your Competitive Advantage

Posted: May 14, 2013


Why Use Assessments?

-                      high turnover is costly – 80% of employer turnover is avoidable

-                      hiring without practicing due diligence may create liability

-                      in a survey of College graduates, 95% said they would be willing to make a false statement on their resumes – 41% admitted they had

-                      most hiring decisions are made instinctively and within the first five minutes of the interview

The list goes on.  In order to compete in this marketplace, you have to have the best employees – and performance is the key.  Hiring the right people for the right job is perhaps the first and most important element of performance.

There are no bad employees, only bad hires.  If you want to turn talent into performance, you must put each individual into the right role.  When people are put into jobs that match their interests, talents and behavioural tendencies, the results are increased job satisfaction, performance and productivity and lower turnover.

Historically, employers have used resumes, interviews and references along with an initial impression or “gut feel” to make hiring decisions.  And typically two out of every three hires will disappoint in the first year.

Therefore, companies today are increasingly utilizing assessments (pre-employment testing) in their overall recruitment strategy.  Using state of the art, reliable and valid assessments can increase the quality of new hires and ultimately support the future success of the individual.   Pre-employment assessments can help you to hire the right person most every time.  This results in a decrease in training costs, a decrease in time spent on disruptive employees and an overall improvement in the productivity of the individual and the work team.

Pre-screen assessments are designed to predict job performance by measuring a combination of three things:

-                      Experience – what they have done;

-                      Motives – what they want to do; and

-                      Talents and Abilities – what they can do.

Different types of assessments measure these things differently which, therefore, affects their ability of predicting differing types of job performance.

Ability and Aptitude Tests are used to evaluate people’s abilities against the precise requirements of their positions.

Achievement Tests are used to measure an individual’s current knowledge of skills that are important to a particular job.

Behavioural Style Assessments are used to provide insight into whether candidates have the motivational and behavioural characteristics required to perform well in a particular role.

There are a number of assessment tools that provide the hiring manager specific interview questions based upon the individual’s score.  This makes the process more consistent and less vulnerable to subjective decisions.

To be effective, pre-screen assessment tools must meet three key conditions:

-                      they must be selected using a clear definition of the performance required for the job in question

-                      they must effectively measure the key characteristics that influence a candidate’s job performance

-                      they must be administered in a standardized and consistent fashion

In general, using a variety of pre-screen assessment tools can improve the success of hiring decisions.  However, the more assessment tools you use, the more time required in the recruitment process and the higher the expense involved.  Some things to consider when selecting assessment tools:

-                      are the tools adequately screening candidates on the full range of performance factors

-                      how many tools can we afford

-                      how will we administer the tools

Companies that are utilizing assessment tools in their recruitment process have a definite competitive advantage over those that are relying on the traditional hiring methods.  They also tend to have much happier and more productive employees which translates into increased performance and retention.

Social Media Presence – “If you aren’t visible, you don’t exist”

Posted: May 07, 2013


We found this great article about the reasoning behind establishing a social presence while in job search mode.   Thought we would share, click here.

How Happy Are Your Employees?

Posted: May 06, 2013



How do you find out how happy your employees are?

 People in organizations are typically expected to manage in a manner that combines technical expertise, superior people management skills, and organizational knowledge to achieve optimum performance. For many though, many factors, including the demands of the job, the tight deadlines, and even personal style, can contribute to a climate of dissatisfaction with managers and how they are running the show. Moreover, a manager or leadership as a whole may have a sense that something is not right, but may not be aware of what exactly that is.

Employees can be approached directly and asked for their opinions and input, but few would be likely to express formally their answers – especially any dissatisfaction – for fear of any reprisals from management or negative repercussions for the organization. So the real prevailing attitudes remain uncovered.

Unless you conduct an EMPLOYEE ATTITUDE SURVEY.

An Employee Attitude Survey, also known as an Organizational Climate Survey, is a standard questionnaire, anonymously completed, that gauges employee attitudes toward the organization and management, and the overall work environment. Such a survey can assist in addressing issues before they become too large or lead to lower productivity. They can help improve your business by discovering what employees are thinking, what they want, need, like, or dislike about the organization. The results can identify areas of strengths within the organization, as well as identifying ‘hot spots” and areas for improvement for both short and long term planning and development.

Attitude surveys examine employees’ level of satisfaction with a variety of organizational issues, including Product/Service Quality, Work Environment, Work Pressure, Decision Making, Accountability, Bureaucracy, Communication, Management, and overall Job Satisfaction. Surveys can also be customized to include questions to address issues that are particularly relevant for the organization, such as Health & Safety, Total Quality Management, or Change Management.

Anonymously-responded surveys also provide a voice for those within the organization who may normally be reluctant to speak up about issues they may have with staff, work loads, management style, and compensation to name but a few. Furthermore, associated demographic information can assist in better targeting solutions, and planning for the future development of the people and the whole organization. They are also a very cost effective way to keep a finger on the pulse of the organization.

There are five key points or “musts” to keep in mind when conducting Employee Attitude Surveys:

  1.  Select the right survey instrument … the survey tool should be  straightforward, relatively short, and easy to complete, focusing on how employees feel about their jobs, their relationships with coworkers and other work groups, and their relationships with the boss and upper  management.
  2. Protect Confidentiality … to ensure honest responses and foster  a comfort level within respondents.
  3. Communicate the Results … the respondents are expecting to know  the results of their efforts, and the issues raised, including both the  positives and the negatives.
  4. Survey Regularly … in order to measure improvement, and gauge  the resulting changes in employees’ attitudes and concerns.
  5. Commit to Action … employees must see that their efforts were  not wasted, and that action is being taken – otherwise, you will probably not  get any participation in future surveys.

We live in an age where having the right information at the right time can significantly affect the course of a business or organization. Surveys are effective tools that reveal what is truly going on and the attitudes contributing to performance, and can positively impact the strategies and decisions piloting the organization toward success.

Recruiting/Selecting and Retaining – HR thoughts

Posted: Apr 23, 2013

Waiting in Line

With increased competition and tighter labour markets, organizations are under extreme pressure.  The need to hire the right talent to sustain and grow your organization, while controlling costs and increasing profits, create an administrative challenge.  International consulting firm Watson Wyatt quantifies the cost of losing an employee at as much as 200% of that employee’s salary.  In addition, Workplace Resource Learning Centre estimates that a poor hiring decision can cost of $66,000.00 for an employee with a College / University degree.  These costs combined with the standard operational expenses of salary, benefits, and office space reinforce the need for employers to value their talent.

The key factors in successful hiring are to understand what candidates are looking for and the hiring process used.  Attitudes and needs differ according to generational diversity (Boomer’s vs. Gen X’ers), financial status, and required working environments.  A formal, consistent, well-developed hiring process is essential in the race for talent. A traditional interview yields only a 14% accuracy rate, so it’s no small wonder that when surveyed, 90% of people indicate they hate to interview.  If investing the time to learn to develop a formal hiring process for your organization can increase your success rate to 45 or 50%, how much of an advantage will that give you over your competition for talent?


Assuming then, you have implemented a structured hiring process, does that solve your turnover and staffing problem?  You have only just begun.  It is not enough to hire the right people.  The hard part is to keep them.

Most organizations fail to understand the basics of building trust and loyalty in the work environment.  Professionals need to treat their investment in HR programs the way they do capital investments and work out the return on those investments.  Without personal or organizational change or improved productivity and performance, organizations can anticipate a net loss in customer base and a direct impact on the bottom line.  A focus on improved communication and understanding removes the barriers, builds employee trust, and results in improved loyalty.  Ten of the most common mistakes made when hiring and managing staff are outlined below.

  1.  No established job descriptions.  If you don’t know what you’re looking for, the chances of finding them are slim.
  2.  Asking predictable, opinion based questions that provide very little insight about the individual.  Behaviour based interviews increase the level of success by over 20%.
  3.  Being overly impressed by the resume.  Where someone was educated or who they worked for is not as important as what they did.
  4.  Being unprepared.  Not planning the interview or reviewing the individuals’ resume in advance sends a message of disinterest.
  5.  Relying solely on the interview.  The interview is only one component of the hiring process.  Assessments, testing and references provide a more objective view of the candidate’s behaviours, motivations and aptitudes.
  6.  Personal biases.  Personal appearance and social bias should not be used to make assumptions on an individuals ability.
  7.  Orientation.  The sooner a new employee feels part of the team, the greater the desire to be successful in the organization.  Take the time to welcome the employee and familiarize them with the culture of the firm.
  8.  Training.  Every office does the same things differently.  Provide the employee the training they need to function effectively in your environment.
  9.  Professional Development Opportunities.  Provide all employees the opportunity for an on-going learning and growth opportunities.
  10.  Performance Management.  Every member of the team deserves to be part of achieving the goals of the organization and in receiving feedback on their achievements.

The management of human resources must be a key component in any management strategy regardless of the size of the organization.  It is no longer only the responsibility of larger employers.  Documented policies and procedures, consistent and valid processes, formal performance management and staff development plans all must be part of annual business planning.  Only those organizations who implement these strategies now will continue to enjoy growth and financial prosperity in the future.

Supervising in Today’s Workplace

Posted: Apr 12, 2013

In today’s workplace the supervisor’s role is one of constant change, it is no longer prudent to leave the supervisory development to guesswork and chance. Traditionally, we promote superior performers at line level to supervisory positions without offering any leadership or communication training and set them up to fail. To meet tomorrow’s needs, it is necessary to move the problem solving process to the lowest possible level – sometimes past the supervisor, down to the worker who does the actual work. This empowerment scenario suggests that organizations are continually looking for ways to get better results – to get beyond traditional thinking supervisors.

Knowledgeable supervisors have no trouble meeting production goals, maintaining quality, producing products at the lowest possible cost, or assuring the employees’ welfare. Additional benefits include noticeable improvements in a supervisor’s attitude toward the company, management and employees.  Here at The Burke Group we have worked with a variety of clients on this exact subject.    Before moving those “most amazing’ employees into a new role, we have interviewed and assessed those individuals using a 360 degree approach, ensuring that the company and candidates are set up for success.