How Far Have We Fallen If Punctuality and Cleanliness Are Job Training Achievements?

Last month’s gain of 192,000 net new jobs indicated that job creation might finally be on the uptick. The unemployment rate -down to 8.9 percent – has now declined nearly a full percentage point since November 2010, the steepest drop over a three-month span since 1983.

While that’s good news, Elaine Chao, former Secretary of Labor, reminded participants attending the 2011 Human Capital Institute Summit, that we actually need 200,000 net new jobs per month just to keep up with our growing population. (That’s not so bad compared to China, where they need 25 million net new jobs per year just to keep up with their growing population.)

New jobs and a falling unemployment rate, despite what the press and political pundits might have you beleive, aren’t the only things that matters when we look toward an economic recovery.

The labor participation is still quite low. According to Chao, we’re only at 62.4 percent, the lowest it has been in 25 years. Chao describes the reason for the low participation as a general lack of confidence that people currently have around their ability to find new jobs.

Chao also confirmed her belief that American workers still have high education levels and strong skills sets. It’s just that we don’t have enough of these skilled, educated workers to fill jobs in the fastest growth areas – Nanotechnology, Geospacial Technology, Life Sciences, and Healthcare – that will plague employers for years to come.

Up until this point in her presentation, there wasn’t much to argue with – facts are facts.

Then the tide turned for me. It was her example of “one of the few great remaining training grounds” – the fast food industry. I’m not disputing that the industry isn’t doing a good job. But I find it depressing that she felt their efforts warranted such attention because the fast food training curriculum must cover these basics:

  • Punctuality is important.
  • Personal hygiene is important.
  • Anger management/conflict resolution.
  • When this boss tells you something, it isn’t a suggestion!

Is training workers to be punctual and clean something so compelling that a former Secretary of Labor feels it’s worthy of commendation? Has our education and training systems fallen so far that timeliness and cleanliness are significant achievements? When we’re talking about finding a way to ramp up the skills of workers so that we can compete effectively in a changing global marketplace, shouldn’t we be recognizing companies or industries that excel at training workers to think creativity, solve complex problems, manage virtual teams, or deliver outstanding customer service?

The state of our workforce may be improving but if training punctuality and personal hygiene is the best example of good job training we can offer, we will be seriously outmanned in our efforts to compete in a global economy.

This article originally appeared in The Total View, a weekly online newsletter that focuses on hiring, management and retention strategies. The Total View is written and published by Ira S. Wolfe, president of Success Performance Solutions and is distributed with permission by The Chrysalis Corporation. Subscribe for FREE to The Total View by typing your e-mail address in the newsletter sign-up box on the right side of this page.


Case Study: Mike’s Carwash Named one of the Top Small Workplaces of 2009!

I am very excited to present this case study. Mike’s Carwash has been a client since 2004. In late September, the Wall Street Journal honored and recognized Mike’s as one of the Top Small Workplaces 2009! You can read the full article here.

One of the many factors that contributed to Mike’s Carwash receiving this designation is their rigorous employee selection process that all applicants must go through. They hire approximately 1 out of every 100 people who apply! Needless to say, they are very selective. Mike’s is only interested in hiring top-performing, customer service oriented individuals and has been using two assessments that we offer; CandidClues and JobClues. These entry-level screening tools enable them to go much deeper than a traditional job interview and predict how well a person is suited for their unique work environment.

In this case study, I interviewed Tom Wiederin, HR and recruiting manager for Mike’s Carwash. He holds nothing back, and describes in detail the process they use, along with key factors they track to ensure the employee turnover is kept at a minimum.

Be sure to listen at 6:20 into the interview. Tom talks about a key factor that is directly linked to identifying top applicants.

Congratulations to Mike’s Carwash for being recognized as one of the Wall Street Journal’s Top Small Workplace of 2009!

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The Dog Ate My Homework and Other White Lies People Tell.

From padding expense accounts to pilfering paperclips, more and more often employees feel entitled to get a “little extra” from their employers. Short of watching every person every minute, there is no way of measuring how often white lies are told or petty theft occurs in the workplace.

If, like Pinocchio’s nose, each lie became immediately apparent in a person’s profile, business owners could easily weed out employees who cheat and deceive. So, how can an employer predict who might be prone to “borrow” a few dollars, take advantage of sick days, or even surf the Net to find the next job while still on your clock?

Background checks catch a very small percentage of the “white lie club” because the majority of employees who steal—68.6 percent—have no prior criminal record. It’s the apparently honest employee who typically commits this sort of soft deceit.

Most people think of themselves as trustworthy. Others may disagree. Research shows that people lie in one-fourth of their daily social interactions with 91 percent of those surveyed saying they lie routinely about matters they consider trivial. (Source: The book The Day America Told the Truth) One out of every four adults in the United States may lie to get ahead. Ninety-three percent of Americans admit to lying at work. Most of us lie an average of three times a day, about as often as we eat

Where does this behavior start? Apparently at home and long before a person joins the workforce. Twenty percent of parents polled by U.S. News and World Report think it’s appropriate to do their children’s homework. Twenty-five percent of adults think lying is all right if it helps you get ahead.

In a 2003 Josephson Institute of Ethics survey of 12,000 American high school students, 74 percent admitted to cheating on an exam at least once in the past year. Thirty-eight percent of respondents say they stole from a store in the past year. Those who say they would be willing to lie to get a good job jumped from 11 percent from 2000 to 2002, according to study results.

There is light on the horizon: Eighty-four percent of students agreed with the statement: “My parents want me to do the ethically right thing, no matter what the cost.”

What can an employer do to take advantage of this hopeful statistic? Consider using the newest generation of personality tests for pre-employment screening. These tests gauge what hourly employees consider good and bad workplace behavior and what path an executive, professional or manager might take when forced to choose between right and wrong. Although an effective screen, these tests may not be enough to filter all bad behavior traits. That is where a skilled interviewer can make the critical difference. By asking behavioral and situation-based questions, this interviewer can expose the “little devil” in all of us and cut though the magnetism of a suave and debonair candidate before bad behavior later on repulses him. 

Hire employees with good dogs … those that don’t eat homework. Even more important, hire employees whose ethics match those of your business. For more informationb about the CandidClues, a cost-effective, entry-level honesty and integrity test, click here.

This article originally appeared in The Total View, a weekly online newsletter that focuses on hiring, management and retention strategies. The Total View is written and published by Ira S. Wolfe, president of Success Performance Solutions and is distributed with permission by The Chrysalis Corporation. Subscribe for FREE to The Total View by typing your e-mail address in the newsletter sign-up box on the right side of this page.

What You Don’t Know About Hiring Costs Can Hurt You!

For many companies, more thought and time goes into replacing a computer printer than hiring “their most important asset”.

Doesn’t it seem odd that a company that regards “people as its most important asset,” doesn’t accurately measure the cost of acquiring that asset. That is exactly what happened when The Human Capital Metrics Consortium attempted to collect data for its annual survey. Chances are the same management teams that know the company’s actual and projected revenue streams to the penny are 50 percent less likely to know the cost of hiring employees and terminating employment.

The survey just released last month, published by, estimates the cost of hiring one employee at $4,263 in 2003.

The cost of hiring an employee has enormous impact on both productivity and profitability and costs over four times more than what you might spend on something as basic as a computer printer. Before you purchase a new printer you do a bit of research. Not a lot, but enough to feel comfortable with your decision. You visit the local office supply stores like Staples and OfficeMax. Then you surf the Web for consumer feedback and best buys. You evaluate how many pages you print each month, the cost of the toner or ink, and whether you want color or black and white. Finally, you compare the specifications of several brands and models within those brands until you make your purchase. All this for a purchase that comes in under $1000, maybe even less than $500. Why do companies continue to ignore the importance of human capital metrics?

Studying these cost of hiring statistics offer some insight. Of the approximately 2,000 organizations participating in the study, only half had solid financial data reflecting the true cost of hiring one employee. Yes, that’s right – only half of the HR professionals who supplied the data for the study had quantifiable and valid information that could be used. It is obvious – too many organizations don’t know how much recruitment, staffing and turnover cost their companies. Perhaps they believe what they don’t know won’t hurt them or these hidden costs are just a fact of doing business. That is an erroneous and dangerous assumption.

While we are discussing numbers, let’s test one more assumption. If the cost of hiring an employee is $4,263, then the company loses an equal amount on the balance sheet if that employee doesn’t work out and the hiring cycle starts all over. One hiring mistake now costs $8,526 to replace a single employee. When all is said and done, the cost to hire one employee in a competitive industry can cost nearly 30 percent of the employee’s annual salary. This expense doesn’t even take into consideration the the cost of training, lost opportunities, impact on morale of co-workers, and strain on productivity.

Is there a way to avoid hiring mistakes without making the hiring process completely onerous?

Online personality tests can be the hiring manager’s best management tool. But, like computer printers, there are a lot of choices to sift through.

With thousands of tests available on the Internet, how do you know which are best for you and your business? Here are some tips for bypassing the hype about pre-employment tests and staying on the road leading to sound hiring decisions.

First decide which type of employee evaluation tool you need – one that screens poorly qualified employees from a pool of applicants or a tool that helps you select the right employees from a short list of candidates. By assessing personality or work attitude, screening tools weed out the high-risk applicants right up front. No mess, no fuss. For example, a validated and reliable pre-employment screening test can knock out 20% to 30% of the applicant pool. As an employer, you realize immediate savings in time and effort. FirstView Job Fit screens for personality traits. SELECT screens for work ethic and attitude and Counter-Productive Behavior Index screens solely for work ethic.

Once an applicant passes through screening, it’s now appropriate to use selection tools, those that identify the candidates who are both qualified and motivated. Selection tools – sometimes called personality inventories – help hiring managers cull those candidates that are the “right fit” for the job. The newest generation tool is TotalView. This sophisticated selection tool is easily used by both the hiring manager and job candidate. The TotalView Assessment System, which includes the TotalView assessment, allows a manager to create quickly a job profile that identifies cognitive abilities, motivation and interests critical for a position.

After a candidate completes the personality test, and this can be done on-line, the candidate is matched against the TotalView job profile and the manager receives a job match score. A job match score of at least 80 percent indicates the candidate has the necessary skills and personality traits to do the job. A ranking below 80 percent raises some concerns while a rating of 69 percent or below indicates serious concerns. The TotalView assessment offers even greater value to the manager because each TotalView selection report gives the manager three interview questions for each ability or personality trait where the applicant score dips below 80%.

A very common question asked to us is “can’t a candidate fake the test”. The answer is yes. They can try to fake it but the TotalView Assessment System has four internal validity checks to catch the candidate who thinks they are smarter than the technology.

As a quick review, a screening tool allows hiring managers to make a first cut in a large pool of applicants. The selection tool fine tunes the interview process with a means of making an objective assessment in what can be an inherently subjective process.

Because pricing is relatively low for many screening tools, it is tempting for many managers to use these screening tools to ascertain the job match between the applicant and the job. Screening tests, however, work best for hourly, low to semi-skilled job-level positions. Screening assessment tools are less effective for identifying talent in key positions such as sales and management.

Regardless of the sophistication and reliability of a single assessment, Success Performance Solutions clients have found that one test just doesn’t cover all facets of human personality. Therefore, those of you who want to match the right person to the job the first time should follow this recommendation. Use CriteriaOne, our proprietary selection and employee evaluation process.

CriteriaOne uses three assessment tools – DISC, Personal Interests, Attitudes(tm), and Values and TotalView(tm). By using this “whole person approach” you get an accurate picture of the work style (HOW candidates will do the job), what candidates value (WHY they will do the job),and how quickly candidates can learn, how accurately they work with numbers, words and shapes, what interests them at work, and if they have the personality to do the job, and fit with your team and your business culture.

Whew! That’s a whole lot of information. But, here’s an important comment. Personality inventories are not tests in the literal sense. There are no right and wrong answers, no passing or failing grades. Personality inventories simply help determine whether a candidate is a match for the job, and as a member of your team. While they may not fit in one particular job, they might be a top performer match in another.

This article originally appeared in The Total View, a weekly online newsletter that focuses on hiring, management and retention strategies. The Total View is written and published by Ira S. Wolfe, president of Success Performance Solutions and is distributed with permission by The Chrysalis Corporation. Subscribe for FREE to The Total View by typing your e-mail address in the newsletter sign-up box on the right side of this page.