Report reveals the benefits of skills testing

Skills are specific competencies (such as knowledge of MS Excel) that enable performance of job tasks or functions (such as accounting tasks). While often thought of as ‘less than’ a qualification such as a degree, skills are essential in the workforce.

While being intelligent and having a degree, diploma or the like provide the necessary foundation to perform well in many roles, it’s also important that employees have the necessary skills to perform the day-to-day tasks required by their job and which are often not taught as part of a formal qualification.

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A theory on managerial success: managers need “soft skills” too

Research has shown that while intelligence in its traditional form, including tasks assessing verbal, numerical, visuo-spatial, reasoning and working memory, is the best predictor of job performance, other skills are also important for managerial success.

Sternberg’s (1996; 1997) triarchic theory of intelligence proposes that intelligence is comprised of traditional analytic skills, practical skills and creativity. He advises that managers need all these components of intelligence in order to be successful. Practical skills are those used in the workplace to guide interactions, help solve problems and knowing how to act in certain situations. They are usually acquired without the direct help of other people. Creativity in the workplace is about seeing old problems and situations in new ways, or the catchphrase of the early 2000’s: thinking outside the box.

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Put your money where your mouth is when it comes to employee ethics

A recent study by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development has revealed that organisations may not be doing enough to promote and protect their values within the organisation. The study found that 40% of employees believe that their unethical colleagues not only go un-reprimanded, but are also frequently rewarded and promoted for their bad behaviour.  In addition, only 29% of respondents had a good understanding of their organisation’s values and 15% had no awareness of them.

It’s not all bad news, though, with almost three-quarters (73%) reporting that it is at least somewhat important to them that organisations to have well-defined values which guide employee behaviour.

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Job performance in the global economy: how the meaning of job performance varies cross-culturally

In the Australian work context, together with other similar individualistic Western countries (such as the USA and UK), job performance is typically assessed in terms of task (in-role) behaviour – i.e., how well an employee performs their duties;  organisational citizenship behaviour – i.e., going ‘above and beyond’ role requirements such as helping other employees with their workload; and counterproductive work behaviours – i.e., absenteeism and poor work practices.

In this global economy it is important to be aware of how job performance is assessed in other cultures, particularly more collectivist culture such as many Asian and Latin American countries.

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Research shows: cognitive tests strongly predict job performance

A meta-analysis conducted in the United Kingdom (Bertua, Anderson & Salgado, 2005) has found that intelligence tests and tests of  specific cognitive abilities are strong, reliable and valid predictors of both job performance  and response to training.  Operational validities are in the range of .5-.6, meaning that these  cognitive tests can account for approximately 30% of the variance in job performance between  candidates.  This makes cognitive ability tests the single strongest predictor of job performance, over and above other popular measures such as personality assessments and job interviews. The predictive validity of cognitive ability tests generalises across job types and  settings, meaning that these tests are useful predictors of most jobs in most industries (if not all!).  Their ability to predict job performance is strongest for more complex roles, such as professional and managerial roles.

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Bribery and corruption – are organisations informed and prepared?

A recently released report outlining the findings of Deloitte’s 2012 Bribery and Corruption survey reveals that organisations in Australia and New Zealand may be ill-equipped to identify and manage corruption and bribery risk.

The survey was completed by 390 organisations from Australia and New Zealand, including publicly listed companies, Australian subsidiaries of foreign companies, public sector organisations and private companies.

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RightPeople in China!

In our efforts to ensure that we offer the most up-to-date, empirically based, well-researched tools available, we are constantly doing research and market-place testing of our new assessment tools.

We even go to China!

In an earlier blog we introduced the Multi-Tasks test, an empirically based competing tasks measure with a long history in job selection research that is particularly useful for predicting job performance in managerial roles.  We have now developed an updated online version of this tool and tested it on a group of workers in China.  Our findings show Multi-Tasks to be a valid, reliable predictor of job performance in the Chinese marketplace, particularly for more senior roles.

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Surveys could be key to cutting staff turnover

Recent research has found that up to 80% of staff turnover can be better controlled by organisations by improving their understanding of employee needs, employee-organisational fit and workplace culture.  The research, which included over 11,000 employees from 40 Australian organisations, was based on exit survey responses from employees who left their organisations between January 2011 and April 2012.  It found that the main reason that employees cited for leaving the organisation was an unfulfilling job role.

It also found that one of the keys to trying to reduce staff turnover and retain top talent is to be aware of what is going on in the organisation: whether employees are well suited to their roles, and engaged in their jobs.

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Attention: employers of skilled migrants

Australia’s immigration policy had long focused largely on accepting highly-skilled migrants. Seeking workers with outstanding skills and qualifications that are lacking in Australia aims to address specific skill shortages and enhances the size and skill level of the Australian labour force.

In the 2012-13 period Australia accepted approximately 190,000 migrants. 68 percent of these, or almost 130,000 were skilled migrants.

The National Centre for Vocational Education Research has found that skilled migrants, particularly those for whom English is a second language, often have different training needs to Australian workers.

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Organisational growth requires understanding your people

A report by the Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA), Talent pipeline draining growth: Connecting human capital to the growth agenda has found that failing to draw on the talent and expertise of employees can result in significant difficulties with growing the business and reaching financial targets.

CGMA surveyed over 300 CEO’s, CFO’s and HR Directors and found that almost half (43%) of respondents thought that ineffective people management had contributed to difficulties achieving financial goals in their organisations, while two-fifths (40%) claimed it had reduced their ability to innovate.

In the context of the global financial crisis, the skills, experience, development and job satisfaction levels of employees are emerging as major sources of competitive advantage or disadvantage. Companies with highly skilled HR practices achieve up to 3.5 times the revenue growth and twice the profit margins of companies less skilled in talent management.

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R your employees OK?

Thursday 13 September is National R U OK? Day.

R U OK? Day is a national mental health day on the second Thursday of September to encourage Australians to connect with their colleagues/employees by asking them: Are you okay?

One in five people experience depression at some point in their lives. That means that approximately 4 million Australians will suffer from depression. More than 2,000 Australians suicide each year. Depression is the most common mental illness, followed closely by anxiety.   Approximately 7 percent of Australian employees in any organisation suffer from depression each year.

So chances are that at least one person at each workplace may be suffering from a mental health problem right now.

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Due diligence can avoid legal issues

When hiring senior executives, a lot of time and attention tends to be given to perfecting the remuneration package.  A leading workplace law and strategy firm warns that it is important to give equal attention to exit strategies, to avoid costly legal battles if the relationship sours.

One aspect of the exit/departure process that is often disputed when senior executives move on is the restriant of trade clause, which sets out which organisations the executive is prohibited from working for after they leave the organisation and how long this prohibition lasts.  For instance, some organisations prohibit executives from working for competitors for up to on year after moving on.

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Keeping employees happy

Research has shown that some of the ‘perks’ that keep employees happy in their jobs are not the stereotypical ‘big ticket’ items that only larger businesses are able to offer.

Boredom, lack of opportunity and poor work-life balance are within the top four reasons that people leave their jobs, according to The Australian Human Resources Institute, rather than lack of perks such as corporate cards, cars and fancy technology. The Institute also found in a 2009 survey that employees value good communication and training opportunities over and above higher pay.

Other important considerations for employees, that are particularly relevant to smaller businesses that are unable to compete with large businesses on remuneration and work conditions, according to research undertaken by Deloitte, are:

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‘GPS building’ for your organisation

A GPS for business?

No, we’re not talking about a Global Positioning System for your car. But it is a similar principle. Many organisations and business leaders are arranging their organisation around GPS, or Guidance and Positioning Statements. Like a GPS in your car, an organisational GPS will guide your organisation to a chosen destination, providing clear directions and guidance along the way to shape the culture of the organisation. These statements can also be referred to as mission statements, values statements or charters.

An effective GPS is a key tool in fostering employee engagement.

A number of successful and high profile organisations understand this. BHP Billiton refers to their GPS (called a charter on their website) as the “single most important means by which we communicate who we are, what we do, and what we stand for as an organisation, and it is the basis for our decision-making”. Their Charter has existed for over 10 years with only minor modifications being made over that time.

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The hidden costs of employee disengagement

A recent research poll of Australian workers has found that more than 80% of Australian employees feel disengaged and work, with more than 20% being actively disengaged, that is behaving in ways that are actively harmful to the organisation.  They estimated that disengagement costs Australian organisations at least $33.5 Billion a year in lost productivity.  It also has other negative social effects outside the workplace, with disengaged employees taking out their negative feelings on their families and having more health problems.

As discussed in our earlier blog How engaged are your employees, employee engagement refers to the extent to which employees believe in the values and mission of the organisation, are committed to their work and will act in ways that further the organisation’s interests.  It integrates the well-known constructs of job satisfaction and organisational commitment.

Engaged employees are focused and connected at work, supportive of organisational goals and are willing to “go the extra mile” at work.

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Baby boomers are booming at work!

One of the most important issues in the current labour market is the ageing of Australia’s workforce. There are not enough Generation X’s and Yers to replace the retiring baby boomers (BBs). However, this is not necessarily cause for concern as over the last decade we have seen a big increase in the number of BBs working past traditional retirement age (60-65 years).

In 2000 approximately 47% of men and 21% of women worked past the age of 60. In 2010 the figure for men had increased by 15% to 62% and the figure for women had more than doubled to 43%.

While this was partly due to the fall out from the Global Financial Crisis and the impact on superannuation, it is a positive step for organisations as it provides an opportunity both to benefit from the wealth of knowledge that more experienced workers possess and to capitalise on the changing workforce to introduce more flexibility in terms of part-time and casual work, mentoring, opportunities to combine work and further study and working from home arrangements.

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Work safety needs a human touch

Most organisational occupational health and safety (OHS) interventions focus on controlling employee procedures and the physical work environment in an effort to maximise workplace safety.  While such efforts are important, they do not take into account the human factors related to work safety, such as individual and group attitudes and the influence of management.

Recent research involving members of the RightPeople team has found that there is an important interaction between management attitudes, work pressure and individual attitudes in determining whether an employee will follow safety procedures.

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Changing face of the workplace

A large survey of Australian businesses conducted by the National Institute of Labour Studies at Flinders University and the National Centre for Vocational Education Research reveals some interesting findings about the significant ways in which employment patterns have changed in the last 20 years.

They found that since 1992:

There has been a significant shift away from full-time, permanent jobs, particularly for men:

  • Only 20% of all new jobs were for men employed full-time on a permanent basis
  • Growth in permanent jobs had been concentrated among individuals aged 45-59
  • Labour hire has been growing rapidly and now comprises over 3% of all employment

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Importance of ‘soft skills’ in the workplace

As seen recently in a leading Australian Human Resources magazine, the importance of ‘soft skills’, including creativity, flexibility, diplomacy and original thought in the modern workplace is gaining momentum.  In an increasingly complex business environment these skills can help organisation’s develop new and better solutions to problems, as traditional ways of interacting with clients, colleagues and the public are becoming less relevant.

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How engaged are your employees?

Employee engagement (EE) refers to the extent to which your employees believe in the values and mission of the organisation, are committed to their work and will act in ways that further the organisation’s interests.  It integrates the well known constructs of job satisfaction and organisational commitment.

It can also be thought of as an emotional or intellectual “attachment” (positive or negative) to their role and the company.

Engaged employees = intellectually focused and/or emotionally connected at work, actively supportive of organisational goals and willing to put more effort into their jobs (Khan, 1990).

Disengaged employees= distant and withdrawn emotionally or intellectually and perform their roles incompletely, without effort or automatically (Khan, 1990).

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Safeguarding your workforce

Australia’s Aging Workforce

The ageing of Australia’s workforce is one of businesses’ major emerging challenges.  By 2044-45 it is estimated that 25% of Australians will be aged 65 years or over, which is approximately double the present population.

Additionally, over the last decade the average age of the Australian workforce (especially the full-time workforce) has been increasing faster than the average age of the general population (Department of Parliamentary Services, 2005).

In September 2010 there were approximately 5.8 million adults not in the labour force.  Over 3.3 million, or 57% of these people were aged 55 years and over (The Australian Institute for Social Research, 2008). As more people move into older age groups, overall workforce participation rates are predicted to substantially drop.  Some estimates project that there will be a loss of one third of the workforce over the next two decades to retirement, redundancy and illness/disability (The Australian Institute for Social Research, 2008).

By early next decade labour demand is expected to exceed supply (Productivity Commission, 2005).

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Surveys profitable for businesses: a case study

Surveys as risk management tools

Well designed organisational surveys are profitable for your business. They operate as risk management tools, helping organisations to prevent problems before they occur. They can help identify/prevent inapproriate hires, inappropriate promotions, poor organisational culture, unsafe practices, misconduct, poor leadership and burnout.

Alternatively, not identifying these issues and having  unengaged, unsuitable, underskilled, risk-taking employees can prove very costly in terms of an organisation’s bottom line and reputation.

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Safety matters, just ask Orica!

Incidents such as the leak of the cancer-causing chemical hexavalent chromium by Orica in Newcastle in August last year highlight the importance of safety procedures and proper handling of health and safety incidents by organisations.

Following the leak the plant was closed for 6 months, it reportedly lost $90 million in earnings, it faced court over breaching Environmental Protection laws and the incident was the subject of a NSW Health health and safety risk assessment and two government inquiries.

The incident also forced changes in environmental protection laws, which now require companies to notify authorities immediately after an incident that poses a risk to the environment, with fines of up to $2 million for failing to do so.

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Striking out

A dispute between workers at Coles’ National Distribution Centre in Melbourne turned into an indefinite strike last week over a new workplace agreement with Toll (the company which Coles outsources their warehouse staffing to). Staff believe the agreement does not provide them with the same pay and benefits as employees employed directly by Coles.

Early last week 250 workers and union officials barred access to the warehouse by Toll Group trucks, interrupting the approximately 100-130 trucks that usually pick up and drop off produce to the warehouse each day and threatening supplies to Coles stores.

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Recruiting the Gen Y employee

What the research shows about Generation Y

Many surveys and studies on Generation Y (individuals born between approximately 1980 and 1995, earlier or later in some definitions) indicate that, as a group, there are a number of characteristics they tend to display that employers should be aware of when hiring and managing these individuals.

Specifically, research has shown that more than any other generation in the workforce, workers from Generation Y (Gen Yers) tend to:

  • Anticipate changing jobs frequently (with some research showing more than half of Gen Yers anticipate changing jobs every 2 years).
  • Be much more likely to move to a new job if their needs for challenge and career development are not met.
  • Have high expectations of their employers, including work-life balance, challenge, high salaries, career advancement and flexibility.
  • Apply for jobs in non-traditional ways, including via social networking tools such as Twitter and supplying applications relying on technology.

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