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The Benefits of Pre-Employment Testing

The Benefits of Pre-Employment Testing

Updated June 14, 2021 Originally published March 22, 2020
March 22, 2020

The Benefits of Pre-Employment Testing http://www.onsite-physio.com/workplace-wellness-programs/the-benefits-of-pre-employment-testing @onsitephysio

Employers across all industries use pre-employment testing to improve their hiring process. You can test for almost anything. You can assess thinking ability and basic office skills. You can conduct drug and alcohol tests. Or you can evaluate medical and physical fitness.

You can give some tests to job applicants even before you decide to interview them. You can use screenings later on, to narrow your field of candidates. And you can confirm that your chosen finalist is able to perform essential job functions.

The Wording Matters

Many people think the terms “pre-employment testing” and “post-offer employment testing” are identical. Technically, though, there is an important distinction between them. Pre-employment tests can be used at any point in the hiring process. Medical and physical capability exams can be used only after you offer the candidate a job. The offer may be contingent on the person passing the test. That’s why it is called post-offer employment testing, or POET. 

Both types of pre-employment testing can provide a wide range of benefits for employers.

Avoid “Hiring Injuries”

One of the biggest frustrations for HR professionals is hiring the wrong person for a position. Pre-employment testing helps you hire well-qualified candidates. You can use the same job information to create the test and create more accurate job descriptions. Candidates can walk away if they aren’t qualified or don’t want to do the work.

Pre-employment tests can test a job candidate’s ability to perform certain movements and sustain certain positions. They can test frequency and duration. These tests are especially valuable for jobs:

  • That are physically demanding
  • That require people to work in confined spaces, crawl across roofs, etc.
  • Have high turnover due to difficulty
  • With a history of workers’ comp claims

You can also learn if you will be able to reasonably accommodate someone who has a physical limitation.

Pre-employment testing does not guarantee a particular candidate will never be injured. But it can improve your odds of hiring “safer” employees. Charles Anderson, PhD, CPE is president of Advanced Ergonomics Inc. He says, “We have found that people who can’t demonstrate the strength and endurance to perform the job have a higher risk of all types of injuries.” It’s about double the risk for people who can prove their ability.

When you hire the right people, you can increase productivity. That strengthens your company’s customer satisfaction.

Establish an Individual Baseline

If an employee later becomes injured, there is an existing baseline their doctor can reference. They can see if there was a pre-existing condition. They can use the baseline to devise the injured worker’s plan of care. They can also use it to determine when the person is ready to return to work.

Assure Regulatory Compliance

Post-offer employment screening procedures must meet ADA and EEOC standards. This protects job applicants against illegal discrimination. It also helps protect your company against lawsuits.

What makes your POET legally defensible?

  • The goal is to predict ability to successfully perform a specific job. Thus test components must directly relate to the job’s core skills and functions. Gathering irrelevant data about a candidate could be construed as discriminatory. If you revoke your job offer, you could be sued.
  • You must administer the same test in the same way to every candidate. Consistency and objectivity remove the appearance of discrimination.

If you are faced with a lawsuit in the future, it will be easier to defend testing procedures you know are objective. Make sure your tests:

  • Are valid and reliable
  • Do not negatively affect minorities or other protected groups
  • Are used consistently for all candidates for any specific position

A growing number of employees injured on the job are suing their employers. The “negligent hire” theory claims you failed to ensure the person was a good fit for the job. This makes it all the more important to ensure your pre-employment testing practices follow federal and state guidelines.

Properly implemented, these tests can help you avoid injuries in the first place. One large industry study1 showed that companies using POET had a 1% injury rate. Companies that didn’t use POET suffered with a whopping 23% injury rate.

Decrease Turnover

It is expensive to hire people who aren’t able to do the job after all. Usually the result is voluntary or involuntary early termination. That means you have to spend time and money hiring and training someone new. It can cost 16% of an entry level employee’s annual salary to replace them.

Companies have reported triple the retention rate2 for applicants who pass a POET. These new hires are 21% more likely to still be on the job at eight weeks.

Reducing worker injuries builds job satisfaction company-wide. Companies with high retention rates enjoy reputations as more desirable employers. That can further boost your ability to recruit quality candidates.

Earn a Return You Can Take to the Bank

Pre-employment testing costs money, but it is proven to deliver impressive ROI. Companies are saving as much as $18 for every dollar spent on POET. They are reducing workers’ comp claims and costs by up to 79%.

POET Also Benefits Prospective Employees

No one wants to suffer an on-the-job injury. You cannot know whether a candidate is able to perform the physical demands of a specific job without testing. They may not know their own capabilities. Without POET, the candidate may assume they’re fit for the position, only to find out later they are not. They may become injured, or they may quit before that happens. Either way, you have to start your hiring process all over again. And your now-former employee has to look for another job.

The Best Results Come From Real-Life Testing

Static lifting tests and isokinetic equipment do not adequately reflect actual job actions. These tests are designed to mimic job activities. But they do not take into account the environment, frequency or duration of specific movements and positions.

Your candidate may be able to lift a certain amount of weight. A valid POET must not only look at the weight, but rather the shape of that weight, the height at which it must be lifted, the environment in which it must be done and how often it must be done. That way, the test can truly replicate what the job entails. That provides the most accurate, valuable results.

Post-offer pre-employment testing is the final step that predicts whether top candidates can be successful on the job. Testing allows you to make better-informed hiring decisions. And that saves time and frustration for everyone. When your candidate passes the POET evaluation, you can both feel more confident in their ability to avoid injury.

  1. Scott L. Post offer screening. J Am Assoc Occup Health Nurses. 2002; 50(12):559-563.
  1. Anderson C, Briggs J. A study the effectiveness of ergo­nomically based functional screening tests and their rela­tionship to reducing worker compensation injuries. Work. 2008; 31(1):27-37.
  1. Littleton M. Cost effectiveness of a pre-work screening pro­gram for the University of Chicago physical plant. Work. 2003; 21(3):243-250.National Benchmark Survey - Onsite Physio

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