Human capital is an asset for an organisation to accomplish anything.
A company that invests in its staff and strives to help each team member become their best self, leads to the holistic growth and development of the company. This growth can only happen when the right employees are hired and then later, retained. Steven Hankin in 1997 of McKinsey coined the term ‘war for talent’ when referring to the increasingly fierce competition to attract and retain employees at a time when few candidates are available. As was the situation then, it continues to be the case today when a key aspect crucial to an organisation’s performance is recruitment and selection. In today’s competitive world, sourcing good employees has become a grave challenge. There is research which shows that at least 40% of résumés and interview responses contain inaccuracies. As candidates want to be hired, they may not be completely honest about their skills or interests (Capelli, 2019).
82% of Fortune 500 executives do not believe that their companies recruit highly talented people.
As a recruiter, looking for evidence of cognition, communication and personality in résumés, reference checks, and interviews might not create the full picture required for great hires. 40% of employers conduct tests which measure their skills, general abilities and IQ (Capelli, 2019) but is that honestly enough to ascertain whether these employees will perform well under pressure, work well in collaborative efforts with other team members and take initiative and drive projects forward when required? Can any tool truly measure these behavioural traits of candidates? What then is the answer to reducing the time and cost of recruiting and hiring?
Psychological Assessments to Recruit Talent
Ever been in a situation where you were finding it difficult to hire a candidate because you couldn’t calculate through your rich experience and subjective bias who was a better fit? All of us have been there, at least once and a few of us have gotten lucky with our hires. But, what if there was a tool that would aid this process and make it less cumbersome and more accurate?
Psychological assessments are tools which can be administered on candidates to measure competence, work, ethic, emotional intelligence, integrity and other behavioural traits like their ability to remain relatively calm and stable under pressure, think logically, critically and creatively as well as exhibit leadership qualities. These assessments greatly reduce the time and cost of recruitment and hiring as they use a combination of techniques to arrive at a hypothesis about a person, which help predict their performance and be tellers on which candidate will perform the best in a particular role. By identifying job-related skills and attitudes which often get missed out during interviews and other screening processes, this assessment creates a robust system to recruit and hire new employees.
As an employer, these assessments would help you identify great talent which leads to reduced financial risk, increased productivity and improved employee morale. Customer satisfaction and improved business would be guaranteed when you are confident that your fresh recruits are a good fit.
Psychological Assessments to Retain Talent
Once you have hired the right employees, the next part of the problem lies in retaining them. There is a popular saying “People don’t leave jobs. They leave toxic work cultures.” This couldn’t ring truer in India’s current workplaces. What makes employees leave their jobs? Are employees unhappy in their workplaces?
In today’s day and age, where employees spend nearly 8-12-hours a day in competitive, stressful, anxiety-ridden, target-oriented workplaces, it would be pertinent to inquire about their mental health. Unfortunately, due to the stigma surrounding mental health, this is a subject which is avoided entirely. Neerja Birla, who founded MPower, an Aditya Birla Education Trust initiative to address mental healthcare gaps in India, feels that taboo and stigma around mental health stops people from seeking help and counselling. At a recent Conclave in Mumbai, she stated, “One in every four corporate professionals suffers from some form of mental ill-health such as anxiety, stress or even depression. If mentally you are not feeling well, you cannot perform.”
The World Health Organisation recently ranked India as the 6th most depressed country in the world. It is estimated that India will suffer economic losses amounting to 1 trillion dollars from mental health conditions between 2012 and 2030 (WHO, 2015). Assocham conducted a study which showed that 42.5% of employees in the Indian private sector are afflicted with general anxiety disorder or depression. All of these statistics seem to point that workplace stress is a neglected aspect of mental wellbeing, which in turn is a crucial determinant of their overall health. Poor mental health and stressors at the workplace can be a contributing factor to a range of physical illnesses like hypertension, diabetes and cardiovascular conditions, amongst others. What happens when burnt-out employees stop being able to contribute meaningfully in their personal and professional lives?
The onus of ensuring the employees’ mental wellbeing and averting or reducing stressful work environments then falls on the company. Psychological assessments have also been designed to periodically check on their employees’ mental wellbeing by measuring depression, anxiety and other common mental disorders. Once diagnosed, there could be counselling sessions arranged to improve their mental well-being. This will help ensure that mental health issues are not swept under the carpet, with employees suffering in silence, when they can instead start speaking out and seeking help. How soon should these conversations around mental well-being start?
The Delhi government under the stewardship of Manish Sisodia has shown that it can start as early as for students in 1st Grade. Their introduction of ‘happiness classes’ is an effort to shift India’s focus from student achievement to ‘emotional wellbeing’. In a country which uses standardized testing to determine student success, this is a welcome venture.
If decreasing levels of happiness and wellbeing in students are becoming a cause of concern, we can only hope for a similar trend to start in workplaces to battle stress, anxiety and depression. By changing the approach of looking at the way recruitments and retaining employees are conducted, we can ensure that we win the ‘war for talent’.