Despite advances in our knowledge of the factors that contribute to on the job accidents and injuries, incidents continue to occur at alarming rates. As evidence from an October 2018 publishing by the National Academy of Social Insurance (NASI), it is reported that injury data collected between 2012 to 2016 demonstrates that U.S. employers pay over $61 billion annually to injured workers. As we know too, general laborers, nurse aides, attendants, janitors, commercial drivers, and law enforcement attribute to the largest portion of U.S. based claims. In addition, fraudulent employee claims continue sky rocketing costing businesses and insurers tens of billions of dollars each year. This suggests that organizations are
underutilizing available methods to combat these incidents; and as hiring and workforce staffing increasingly become more difficult, employers must take proactive steps to enhance “good” hiring decisions. The practice of legal and validated screening tools must be used as a best practice to identify even the small percent of poor fit applicants who drive employer turnover and safety concerns.
Individual differences and safety outcomes
Proactive measures focusing on selecting candidates who are the least predisposed to behaving unsafely can help organizations prevent safety incidents. And, by following fair and equal best practices businesses will reduce associated lost time and workers’ compensation costs. Recent meta-analyses (Beus et al., 2015; Clarke & Robertson, 2008) have shown that personality dimensions such as emotional stability, agreeableness, and conscientiousness correlate negatively with unsafe workplace accidents.
Research also suggests that unsafe behaviors are actually a dimension of counterproductive behavior. Personality-based integrity tests, like the validated hiring solutions provided by Insight Worldwide – integrity testing, predict counterproductive behavior by tapping the underlying psychological traits that predispose people to behave in this manner. For example, Ones et al., (1993) demonstrated integrity tests’ ability to predict a composite measure of counterproductive behavior including disciplinary problems, disruptiveness, tardiness, absenteeism, and citations for negligence.
Thus, it follows that we can assess and screen out candidates who are inclined to behave in an unsafe manner. Moreover, once an organization establishes itself as a safety-conscious workplace, candidates who are inclined to work safely should be drawn to this organization due to their shared values thus increasing the applicant pool of candidates who are more likely to behave safely.
Development and validation of a selection program
A pre-employment selection procedure, like an applicant integrity test, is considered valid if a clear relationship can be demonstrated between the procedure used and performance of the job for which the individual is selected (AKA: Your organization’s Return on Investment). This process begins with an analysis of the knowledge, skills, abilities, and other characteristics (KSAOs) essential for the job. The process continues by identifying relevant job performance criteria and then developing an assessment that differentiates between top applicants and unpromising applicants. This differentiation is tested through validation. Validation provides the evidence that a selection assessment can predict the work behaviors it was intended to measure.
Several validation strategies are available to ensure that the scores received on the selection measure relate to job-relevant work behaviors. Each strategy comes with a set of decisions and considerations and will depend on the organization’s goals. In our own work, Insight’s partnered PhD’s in Industrial Organizational Psychology at the University of Florida Human Resources Research Center (HRRC) use a variety of validation strategies and present the data collected from studies across a variety of industries and occupations to prove success. Through these studies, it is identified that when organizations use legal and validated selection assessments turnover is decreased, key job performance indicators are increased, and workers’ compensation costs are reduced. Details and study findings are observed in the below link which outlines improvements for manufacturers, temporary staffing firms, and hospitality organizations:
These cases studies demonstrate and provide a compelling argument that the pre-hire selection process is just as critical to an organizational safety climate in predicting possible accidents and injuries, as are employer onsite safety procedures and policies required of employees in their daily profession.
Occupational injuries, illnesses, and unexcused absenteeism place a tremendous cost on employers, workers, and society in the form of workers’ compensation, medical expenses, lost wages, and productivity. However, by simply employing easy to use hiring solutions that recognize the important predictors of workplace behavior and attitudes your organization can avoid paying unnecessary expenses to unsafe actions and behaviors. To learn more on the best practices of employing a validated personnel selection as a human resource and safety strategy, please contact Insight Worldwide to discuss how your organization can reduce avoidable accidents in the workplace.
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