Measuring the Value of Today’s Hourly Workers

By: Steve Schaffer, June 26, 2014

When measuring the value of today’s workers, it helps to take a look into the past. Years ago, HR managers might have made quick decisions when hiring someone for an hourly role. The mindset was: if this person doesn’t last, we’ll just move on to the next. There was a sense of acceptance regarding the high turnover that comes with this type of position.

Fast forward to today: Over 80% of all jobs in the United States are hourly.

Obviously, past hiring practices and attitudes toward these type of positions are no longer sustainable. Organizations need to have a clear sense of the competencies needed for their specific hourly positions in order to find workers who are the best fit in those areas.

Adding an hourly assessment to your hiring process has never been more important than it is today. Using an assessment will help with:

  • Enhancing productivity
  • Targeting training programs
  • Reducing employee turnover
  • Reducing shrinkage (employee theft/fraud)
  • Better on-the-job safety
  • Reducing absenteeism

When you consider how much these issues are costing your organization, it is clear that using an assessment for the hourly population is more critical than ever because the job roles themselves are more valuable than ever.

The Importance of Reliability in Hiring Assessments

By: Andrew Day, June 19, 2014

If you are at all familiar with hiring assessments that measure skills or personality characteristics, you may have heard the term “reliability.” Reliability reflects an assessment’s capacity to measure characteristics consistently. It also indicates that the characteristics being measured do not change over time.

When utilizing a hiring assessment, company decision-makers are seeking data that will show if an applicant will turn out to be a good employee as well as the right fit for the open job role. Accurate test results make it possible to predict a prospective employee’s future behavior and job performance.

Consistent and stable

If a person takes an assessment today and then takes the same assessment a year later, the results should be very similar. A poorly designed test, however, can elicit very different results on each administration. If this occurs, it is impossible to know which outcome is accurate. In contrast, a well designed assessment with good reliability minimizes potential measurement errors and yields consistent results.

It is also critical that the characteristics being measured are stable over time. Stable traits remain the same today and tomorrow as they will years from now. If the characteristics being measured can easily change, there is no way to know how a person will act in the future. Therefore, unstable characteristics have limited predictive value.

How reliability affects the hiring process

Let’s look at Decisiveness—a behavior measured by some of the The Devine Group’s assessments. Decisiveness is a person’s willingness to make decisions quickly, sometimes with limited information. Decisiveness can be a valuable predictor of on-the-job performance because people do not suddenly become more or less decisive. Some people are naturally decisive and can easily choose among options. Others prefer to gather all the relevant information before deciding, and many of them will still hesitate out of fear of making a wrong choice. If a hiring manager knows up-front how decisive an applicant is, he or she is better able to predict how the person will act at work and if that behavior pattern will fit into the desired job role.

In addition to the reliability of the assessment tool, all the various attributes and behaviors that differentiate good and poor performers need to be identified. Assuming the proper characteristics have been specified, a reliable measurement tool can help hiring managers make sound and accurate decisions as they’re building their workforce.

Shared Engagement Creates Champions

By: Joe Koczwara, June 12, 2014

Recently there has been increased interest regarding employee engagement. Topics range from employee satisfaction to who ‘owns’ employee engagement to perceived value.

Why satisfaction isn’t the same 

This is a recurring question among HR professionals. The answer is no. Satisfaction is a good indicator of an employee’s current mood or feeling, but it does not necessarily reflect behavior in the workplace. Engagement spans several types of desired behaviors like “putting in extra time and effort to get the job done” to some undesirable behaviors like “I am looking for another job.”

Whose problem is it?

Traditionally, ensuring employees are engaged was considered the responsibility of the manager. But some suggest that the employee should bear this responsibility. Employees are engaged when an organization provides them with the things they value (i.e., good compensation, benefits, work environment, etc.). Employers benefit from employees who go the extra mile. Since there is a mutual benefit to employee engagement, I believe that a shared responsibility is most logical.


When organizations measure Drivers of Engagement in a well-constructed Engagement survey, the organization and employees know what matters. There is no need to have employees brainstorm on what would increase or decrease their engagement level – the data will tell you. A better way to include employees is to involve them in developing solutions. Organizational leaders should not simply say, “This is how we will fix engagement.” Rather, they should get employees’ input on how the organization can do better on the Drivers that matter. Additionally, improving engagement does not mean you should give employees everything they want. Communicating with employees and helping them understand why things are a certain way is a valuable outcome of the survey and can mitigate many engagement issues.

The things they value

Start today on the path of increasing employee engagement within your company. Begin with something small. Remove some well-known irritant in the job. Just like removing a pebble from your shoe, it takes very little time but it makes life so much better. If there is one small thing that you could get (or give away), what would it be? In my IT world, developers appreciate faster laptops, bigger monitors, better software, training modules, and flexible work schedules. But the value of each item is the value perceived in the employee’s mind, and each person places a different intrinsic value on each option. NBA coach Phil Jackson was a master at motivation because he tailored it to his individual players. As a business leader, you must do the same with your workers.

Because really, whether we are basketball players or IT personnel, the goal is to win a championship. You can do that with a highly engaged and motivated work force.

The Jury Technique, Part 4 – Benefits of the Technique

By: Dr. Donald Devine, June 5, 2014

Much has been written about human relations, team building, interpersonal relations, self-awareness, and management by objectives. These and other matters can be handled most successfully through a problem-solving approach that addresses the concerns, anxieties, frustrations and, at times, despair that exists in all corporate businesses.

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The Learning Structure

The jury technique has been shown to be highly effective for addressing these issues. Its learning structure does not require the preparation of elaborate training materials. Rather, workers’ already-accumulated evidence and experience serve as the basis of the exercise. Learning is also focused on finding a solution for a specific work objective—one that is beneficial to the well-being of the entire organization.

Success of the jury technique can also be attributed to company leaders and personnel following certain procedures. Such guidelines include the following:

  • Emphasis is placed on helping each person recognize that ‘problem definition’ is integral to effecting a sound and lasting resolution.
  • Allowances are made to assist individuals in presenting evidence and inquiring about the factors related to the problem at hand.
  • Ethical standards are observed, such as maintaining objective and impartial attitudes toward solving the problem rather than placing blame and personalizing criticism. The training and development specialist provides structured direction to keep emotionalism within reasonable limits.
  • Learning is related to current practical work considerations rather than abstractions.
  • The training design does not require any level of technical expertise on the part of the training and development specialist. Rather, it presumes that objective inquiry is the only truly meaningful basis of good problem solving.
  • As a natural consequence of using this problem-solving process, managers will gain practice and skills related to problem solving, communication and team building.
  • During the process, training and development specialists also have the opportunity to observe individuals’ strengths and improvement areas, which can be helpful for future employee development.

The jury technique can also be adapted for use with small problem-solving interactions in the day-to-day work environment. Under such conditions, training and development specialists are often perceived as useful contributors to operational personnel. One of the normal fallouts of this is the number of after-session requests for consultative and design advice from training specialists on how to organize resources to best accomplish objectives for improved performance. The possibilities inherent in developing new strategies and structures to enhance learning, meaningful participation, contribution, and commitment are thereby strengthened.

Finally, the jury technique decreases paperwork and unnecessary regulations; rather, it promotes a more rational environment that tends to instill trust and unite workers. It also encourages behavior befitting human dignity and the deeper dimensions of each worker’s personality. That alone is an immeasurable success.

The Jury Technique, Part 3 – Implementing the Technique

By: Dr. Donald Devine, May 30, 2014

In Parts 1 and 2 of this series, we discussed the importance of committing resources to training and development for quick action problem-solving. We also explored some potential barriers to problem solving structure and how to overcome them. Today’s Thought Exchange centers on how to use the jury technique to attain successful results.

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The Jury Technique

The jury technique is a problem-solving method that focuses on group investigation and brainstorming. By implementing the jury technique, leaders can achieve active and productive solutions for problem definition, analysis and action.

First, top executives should issue a brief statement of the perceived problem. Then they need to identify individuals who are immediately involved, those whose power and influence are needed to implement a solution, and those who are sufficiently interested in learning and helping even though their involvement with the problem may seem indirect or peripheral.

Next, the top executive should review participants wishing to be involved in the problem-solving session, limiting involvement to no more than 12 people. Each participant should be encouraged to bring to the session all the available information he or she has accumulated on the subject (i.e., memoranda, reports, notes, statistical data, and so forth).

At the beginning of the meeting, the leader should present a brief but thorough background of the problem. Then, training and development personnel should carefully explain critical requirements that will enable the group to function productively.

Below are some guidelines summarizing how the meeting should be run:

  • Each person should have the opportunity to state what he or she knows about the problem in front of all members of the group.
  • Group members should question each individual after his or her presentation in the presence of the entire group. Questions should be phrased in an open-ended manner to induce projective responses. Note talking is to be encouraged.
  • After individual presentations and questions are concluded, group members should form small work units to develop practical solutions. A secretary should be appointed in each unit to identify information that is incomplete and to highlight follow-up action(s) that should be taken to ferret out facts. Each action, of course, should be substantiated.
  • Secretaries should then consolidate the results into a document containing the definition of the problem and sub-problems, as well as the plan of action to be implemented.
  • The reports should be presented verbally with copies given out to each participant for analysis and review prior to finalization of the plan of action.
  • Before concluding the initial session, individual group members should assume responsibility for various actions that have been recommended, including reporting on progress at the second meeting.

Your company stands to gain the most from using the jury technique when participants cooperate and follow the type of structured format explained above.

Up Next Week… The Jury Technique Part 4: Benefits of the Technique