How to Evaluate Hiring Assessments

HR professionals and managers need reliable ways to gather and evaluate various assessments. Read this blog post to learn more about how to evaluate assessments.


When faced with a hiring decision, HR professionals and managers have to consider everything they know about the applicants. But that might not be enough information to make a choice. To get more information and add objectivity to the decision-making process, many organizations use assessments.

"When these tools are used correctly, they're tremendously valuable," said Eric Sydell, Ph.D., an industrial-organizational psychologist and the chief innovation officer at Modern Hire, a hiring platform. "There's a level of objective assessment about a person that can be very predictive."

HR professionals and hiring managers don't have the ability to make accurate predictions in the same way assessments can. "Our brains don't work that way," he said.

But buyer beware, Sydell warned, "There are a lot of tools out there that sound great on the surface" but fail to deliver valid and reliable results.

Multiple Options Present Tough Choices

Ryne Sherman, chief science officer at Hogan Assessment Systems in Tulsa, Okla., said he suspects that most large corporations are probably using reliable and valid assessments, while smaller businesses may not be. Unfortunately, he said, "With this industry, there is no regulating body at all—literally anybody can make an assessment tool and start selling it with no background and no science put into it whatsoever."

Perhaps because of the open nature of the field, there are a lot of tools to choose from and many of them are complex, making the selection of one of them a potentially confusing—and even risky—decision to make.

Must-Haves for Effective Assessment Tools

Ryan Lahti, Ph.D., is an industrial-organizational psychologist and the founder and managing principal of OrgLeader, a management consultancy in Newport Beach, Calif. He uses a variety of assessment tools in his work. There are many factors to be considered when evaluating an assessment tool, he said, but the three key ones are validity, reliability and the population that was used to develop it.

Validity deals with how accurately the tool measures the concepts it claims to measure. Lahti pointed to three forms of validity:

  • Content validity indicates how well the tool measures a representative sample of the subject of interest. At a minimum, he said, you want a tool that has content validity.
  • Criterion validity indicates how well the tool correlates with an established measure or outcome—for example, correlation to strong performance ratings.
  • Construct validity indicates how well the tool measures a concept or trait—for example, conscientiousness.

Reliability is a measure of how consistently the tool measures issues of interest. If you were to give the same assessment to the same candidate more than once, how similar would the results be?

Finally, the population used to develop the tool is an important consideration and should be the same as the population being assessed. "For example, you would not want a tool developed on an adolescent population to be used to assess working adults," Lahti said.

Sherman offered the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) test as an example. The popular assessment tool used by organizations to screen candidates was designed for diagnosis and treatment of mental health conditions, he said. That can be a risky tool to use for assessing the potential of job applicants.

What to Watch Out For

As HR leaders consider various assessment options, they need to thoroughly evaluate whether the assessments they're considering incorporate the must-haves. Look out for companies that don't publish information on validity, reliability and the population used to develop the assessment.

Some companies, Lahti said, will say that their tools are used by a lot of Fortune 500 companies.

"While this argument shows they have good sales and marketing departments, it does not prove the companies have sound assessment tools," he said.

Sy Islam, Ph.D., an associate professor at the State University of New York at Farmingdale and a vice president at Talent Metrics consulting firm in Melville, N.Y., said employers should ask test companies to show their worth. "Vendors should be able to provide you with a validity coefficient, which is a statistic—a correlation coefficient—that indicates how much predictive validity the assessment has," he said. He warned against accepting "black box" explanations like "the tool is proprietary and cannot be explained." The ability to support your assessment could become an issue if your company becomes involved in a lawsuit, he said.

"What you don't want to do is rely on high-level summary statements, marketing statements or hype that is generated by these companies," Sydell said. "There are a lot of different buzzwords and catchphrases that vendors will throw out there. It's really important to look beyond that and dig below the surface." And, while he says you don't need a Ph.D. to do that, it is a good idea to seek help from someone who is familiar with these types of assessments and can help evaluate their efficacy.

"I would strongly advise finding a local industrial and organizational psychologist who can evaluate different vendors and talk to you about best practices," Sherman said. The proper assessment and selection of candidates is just too important, and potentially risky, to cut corners.

SOURCE: Grensing-Pophal, L. (27 February 2020) "How to Evaluate Hiring Assessments" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/talent-acquisition/pages/how-to-evaluate-hiring-assessments.aspx


Millions of U.S. jobs to be lost for years, IRS projections show

It's estimated that there will be about 37.2 million fewer employee-classified jobs in the next year, than there has been in previous years. Read this blog post to learn more.


The Internal Revenue Service projects that lower levels of employment in the U.S. could persist for years, showcasing the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.

The IRS forecasts there will be about 229.4 million employee-classified jobs in 2021 — about 37.2 million fewer than it had estimated last year, before the virus hit, according to updated data released Thursday. The statistics are an estimate of how many of the W-2 tax forms that are used to track employee wages and withholding the agency will receive.

Lower rates of W-2 filings are seen persisting through at least 2027, with about 15.9 million fewer forms filed that year compared with prior estimates. That’s the last year for which the agency has published figures comparing assumptions prior to the pandemic and incorporating the virus’s effects.

W-2s are an imperfect measure for employment, because they don’t track the actual number of people employed. A single worker with several jobs would be required to fill out a form for each position. Still, the data suggest that it could take years for the U.S. economy to make up for the contraction suffered because of COVID-19.

The revised projections also show fewer filings of 1099-INT forms through 2027. That’s the paperwork used to report interest income — and serves as a sign that low interest rates could persist.

There’s one category that is expected to rise: The IRS sees about 1.6 million more tax forms for gig workers next year compared with pre-pandemic estimates.

That boost “likely reflects assumptions with the shift to ‘work from home,’ which may be gig workers, or may just be that businesses are more willing to outsource work — or have the status of their workers be independent contractors — now that they work from home,” Mike Englund, the chief economist for Action Economics said.

SOURCE: Davison, L.; Tanzi, A. (20 August 2020) "Millions of U.S. jobs to be lost for years, IRS projections show" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.employeebenefitadviser.com/articles/millions-of-u-s-jobs-to-be-lost-for-years-irs-projections-show


How to Maintain a Professional Presence on the Phone


If you are job hunting, start thinking about how you will handle employers' responses to your resume. While some recruiters will e-mail you, others may call. All too often, this happens when you're sitting down to dinner, the dogs are yapping, the kids are yelling or you're settling into a favorite Netflix binge. Don't get caught off guard. There's an easy way to know that a call is of a professional nature before you pick up the phone.

Protect Your Image

You can manage calls that come at awkward times by adding a phone number to your smartphone or landline. Many cell and landline companies offer multiple lines on a phone, each with a distinctive ringtone. With a second line, you can have a dedicated and confidential number with a voice mail message tailored to the professional image you wish to present to the world, and you can use this number exclusively for your job search and career management activities. If this line rings at an inconvenient time, you'll know to get yourself into a space where you can switch to your "professional voice" and talk without distraction, or to return the call in a few minutes when the mayhem at home is under control. Use this number on your resume, in your LinkedIn profile and for all other business communications: This can enhance your professional image, and it also acts as a buffer between your professional and personal life.

 Put Your Extra Line to Work

Unemployment due to the pandemic has hit 30 million workers, or about one-quarter of the U.S. labor force. Record unemployment means that getting back into the workforce will require upgrading your job search and sharpening your interview skills.

In such a disrupted world, it would also be a good idea to think about a side gig that might leverage some of your professional skills. An additional revenue stream never hurts, particularly in times like these, and a side gig could even lead to full-time employment. Plus, every nickel you bring in can help ease the financial strain.

Just as it can help with your job search, your extra phone line can help you field and make calls related to your side gig. When that distinctive ringtone sounds, you'll know the call is about money, whether it's for a new job or a potential customer. Either way, you're alerted that the call requires you to answer in your professional voice.

It can take time for that side gig to start making you real money. Not all ideas take off like a rocket, but you'll learn more from your mistakes than your successes. Meanwhile, your efforts may bring in a little extra cash and keep your spirirts up.

If you've always had a dream for a side gig and you've been laid off, now is a great time to put your dream into action. If you need some inspiration, check out these ideas:

Make sure to set up a differentiated LinkedIn profile for your new business to act as a website for your side gig. Think of it as a resume written around your business's goals. With a phone number and a starter website, you have the two foundational basics for a 21st century global business.

SOURCE: Yate, M. (10 August 2020) "How to Maintain a Professional Presence on the Phone" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/organizational-and-employee-development/career-advice/pages/how-to-maintain-a-professional-presence-on-the-phone.aspx


The Viability of Banning Salary Negotiations

Originally posted by Joanne Sammer on Society for Human Resource Management's website

When Internet company Reddit decided in April 2015 to ban all salary negotiations for both new hires and existing employees, the move garnered a wave of media reporting—and social media discussion.

Although Reddit is not the only company to adopt this policy, the difference is that Reddit tied its salary negotiation ban to an effort to close the pay gap between male and female employees. The fact that Reddit’s then-CEO Ellen Pao had just lost a high-profile gender discrimination lawsuit against a Silicon Valley venture capital firm gave the announcement particular significance. Three months later, Pao resigned as interim CEO under pressure, with some lauding her as a fighter against sexism while others charged her with mismanagement during her controversial eight-month tenure.

Regardless of Pao’s troubles, her decision to ban salary negotiations fired up the conversation about pay disparities. Now, it is fair to ask some key questions about the viability of this no-negotiation approach to compensation.

Reddit, which has about 70 employees, operates in the Internet/technology space in Silicon Valley. Although the company had operated with an informal no-negotiation policy, it was Pao who tied it to the gender pay gap. “She provided more structure to the way it works and formalized the policy,” according to Heather Wilson, a company spokeswoman.

Under the formal policy, Reddit offers new hires and employees set salaries based on competitive market rates for the positions they hold. “The employee is given a choice within that salary to select either more pay or more equity,” Wilson noted. “But the number is the same, just the make-up of pay-to-equity can be determined by the employee.”

Although Reddit is open to changing the policy in the future if circumstances change, “so far it seems to be working quite well,” Wilson said. “Reddit is known as a good place to work and has a strong internal culture, and the pay policy is a part of setting that culture and is in line with the company's core values.”

No Negotiating = Better Relationships?

A key question about any effort to ban salary negotiations inevitably raises questions about the impact on recruitment. Does banning negotiations place an employer at a disadvantage in the hiring process?

For Reddit, the reaction has been positive. “Since news of the policy has spread, Reddit has seen an uptick in candidates seeking to work at the company citing the policy,” according to Wilson.

Gender aside, there are plenty of people who are uncomfortable negotiating and could be attracted to an organization where negotiating salary is not expected. Perhaps that is why other organizations have also had success in hiring after banning negotiations.

Fathom Healthcare, a Valley View, Ohio-based firm that provides marketing services for hospitals and health systems, has banned salary negotiations but not as a way to close pay gaps. The company simply sees negotiating as a negative in the employment relationship.

Negotiating salary “starts the [employment] relationship on a note of distrust and dishonesty,” said Bill Balderaz, president of Fathom Healthcare. “If the company leads with a lower number than it is willing to pay, it is saying, ‘I think you are worth x, but I'm going to offer y and see if you'll take it.’ ”

On the other side of the table, Balderaz sees candidates who name one salary level but settle for another as “leading with a lie.”

To avoid this, Balderaz suggested that employers make only one best and final offer, based on a fair level of compensation. Fathom Healthcare, which has about 40 employees, has had its no-negotiation policy in place since its inception in 2006 and has made 60 or more hires at different levels and with different skill sets since then, with no trouble attracting candidates, according to Balderaz.

Balderaz noted that the company’s decision to make exceptions to the no-negotiation policy for a few candidates over the years has demonstrated the value of the ban. “We made a handful of exceptions in the early days and regretted it each time,” he said. “Salary negotiations inherently set a tone of distrust and [establish an] us-vs.-them attitude.”

Transparency Is Key

In announcing Reddit’s policy, Pao specifically highlighted the idea that the no-negotiation policy would help close the gender pay gap. Her rationale is that women are uncomfortable negotiating pay, frequently don’t negotiate at all and are often perceived negatively when they do negotiate.

Yet some critics of salary negotiation bans argue that these employers are fighting the wrong battle, and they’ve pointed out that the pay gap battle is not limited to gender. Significant pay gaps also exist for black and Hispanic workers, for instance, regardless of gender.

“You have women and people of color who are historically underpaid relative to their white male counterparts,” said Fatimah Gilliam, founder and CEO of The Azara Group, a leadership consulting firm in New York City. “I understand the intent to want to equalize things but I do not believe that the answer is to ban negotiation altogether.”

Moreover, banning salary negotiations does not necessarily guarantee fairness. There is nothing stopping an organization or certain managers from continuing to make higher, nonnegotiated pay offers to some applicants and not to others.

That is why some argue that increasing the transparency surrounding market-based pay levels is the more pressing need. “What enables people to get more money is having a better sense of what companies are paying,” said Gilliam. “If companies simply ban salary negotiations, they instantly have even more leverage. Saying that you cannot negotiate your compensation just limits the amount of leverage you have as a candidate to advocate for yourself.”

While certainly not widespread, some employers are starting to open the compensation books. Social media company Buffer publishes its open equity formula online, including an explanation of each element used to set pay and equity levels and a spreadsheet listing the compensation level and value for all 37 employees, as well as salary and equity formulas and calculations. This transparency effort began last year with the disclosure of the salaries of all employees.


Part-time employment adds leg to traditional retirement stool

Source: Employee Benefit News

You have probably have heard about the three-legged stool approach to retirement planning. Historically, financial planners have advised that retirees could expect to derive their retirement income from three sources: Social Security, corporate retirement plans and personal savings.

It was generally understood that each source of funds was responsible for providing one-third of the total living expenses required in retirement. Over the years the three-legged stool approach has been modified for a number of reasons:

  • The disappearance of defined benefit pension plans (only 18% of workers currently have access to such a plan);
  • An increase in the age required to collect a full Social Security benefit;
  • The soaring costs of health care; and
  • The expectation that many pre-retirees may not reduce their standard of living when they retire. In other words, many workers are expecting 100% income replacement in retirement.

In order to meet the 100% income replacement requirement, experts estimate that 25% of retiree living expenses will need to come from corporate retirement plans, 25% from Social Security and 50% from personal savings. However, it is becoming evident that most baby boomers have not saved, and will not save,  nearly enough to fund the retirement they expect. As a result, it may become necessary to add a fourth leg to the stool: part-time employment in retirement. This new approach assumes that income will flow in 25% increments from each source.

Surprisingly, nearly 75% of pre-retirees over the age of 50 in a recent study say they have a desire to work while retired. This is probably a good thing, since most will have to. Lack of corporate retiree health care, lifestyle expectations and a much lower savings rate than required will force most baby boomers to continue working.

 


OFCCP Releases Final Rule on LGBT Non-Discrimination

 

Originally posted December 4, 2014 by Cara Crotty on ThinkHR.com

The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs announced yesterday that it is issuing a Final Rule implementing President Obama’s Executive Order that prohibits federal contractors from discriminating on the bases of sexual orientation and gender identity.

This Final Rule will be effective 120 days after publication in the Federal Register (which has not yet occurred) and will apply to federal contracts entered into or modified on or after that date.

What does the Final Rule change?

The EO Clause has been changed to include “sexual orientation” and “gender identity.” However, those contractors that incorporate the EO clause by reference will not need to physically alter their subcontracts or purchase orders.

Contractors must notify applicants and employees of their non-discrimination policy by posting the “EEO is the Law” poster. Presumably, the government will be updating this poster to include these two new categories.

Contractors are also obligated to expressly state in job advertisements that all qualified candidates will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or national origin. The Final Rule provides that employers can satisfy this requirement by including that verbiage or simply indicating that the company is an “equal opportunity employer.”

Although employees hired outside of the United States are not covered by the regulations, if a contractor is not able to obtain a visa of entry for an employee or potential employee to a country in which it is doing business, the regulations require the contractor to notify both the OFCCP and the U.S. Department of State if the contractor believes that the refusal of the visa is because of the individual’s protected characteristic. This requirement now applies to sexual orientation and gender identity status.

The section of the regulations regarding Placement Goals in AAPs has also been updated. Contractors are prohibited from extending preferences on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or national origin due to specific placement goals.

What is not affected by the Final Rule?

The Final Rule does not change contractors’ reporting and information collection requirements, so contractors are not required to survey or report on the number of LGBT applicants or employees. The required components of Affirmative Action Plans are also not affected.

What should contractors do to comply?

The Final Rule simply adds sexual orientation and gender identity to the sections of the regulation where the other protected categories are listed, so the impact on federal contractors is limited. However, contractors should begin the process of determining whether and when they need to do the following:

  • Update the EO Clause in subcontracts and purchase orders;
  • Amend the EEO and AA policy to include sexual orientation and gender identity;
  • Obtain new “EEO is the Law” posters;
  • Modify their EEO tagline on job solicitations; and
  • Train appropriate personnel on the new protections.

In addition, the OFCCP has issued FAQs regarding its interpretation of the Final Rule. These will probably be updated periodically as contractors pose questions to the OFCCP.

Why no proposed rule?

You may be wondering whether you missed the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on this issue. Actually, the OFCCP bypassed the notice and comment period, stating that the “Executive Order was very clear about the steps the Department of Labor was required to take, and left no discretion regarding how to proceed. In such cases, principles of administrative law allow an agency to publish final rules without prior notice and comment when the agency only makes a required change to conform a regulation to the enabling authority, and does not have any discretion in doing so.” (The OFCCP must not have seen all the questions I had after reading the Executive Order.)

 


Federal Employment Law Update – December 2014

Originally posted December 03, 2014 on www.thinkhr.com.

IRS Releases Guidance on Hardship Exemptions from ACA Individual Shared Responsibility Payment and Minimum Essential Coverage

On November 21, 2014, the IRS released final regulations relating to the requirement to maintain minimum essential coverage enacted by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). Notice 2014-76, released concurrently with the regulations, provides a comprehensive list of all hardship exemptions that may be claimed on a federal income tax return without obtaining a hardship exemption certification.

The final regulations provide individual taxpayers with guidance under I.R.C. § 5000A on the requirement to maintain minimum essential coverage and rules governing certain types of exemptions from that requirement. The regulations address three general areas:

  • Employee contributions to a cafeteria plan.
  • Health reimbursement arrangements.
  • Wellness program incentives.

The final regulations also remove the references to specific hardship circumstances and, instead, provide that a taxpayer may claim a hardship exemption on a federal income tax return without obtaining an exemption certification for any month that includes a day on which the taxpayer satisfies the requirements of a hardship for which the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Treasury Department, and the IRS issue published guidance.

Read Notice 2014-76

Read the Final Regulations

OMB Approves VETS-4212 Reporting Form

On November 19, 2014, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) approved the new VETS-4212 form for federal contractors and subcontractors to report on their employment of veterans protected under the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974 (VEVRAA). Under the revised form, set for implementation in 2015, contractors will report the specified information for protected veterans in the aggregate rather than for each of the categories of veterans protected under the statute.

VEVRAA, located at 38 U.S.C. § 4212(d), requires covered federal contractors to report annually to the Secretary of Labor on their employees and new hires who belong to the specific categories of veterans protected under the statute. Under the most recent amendments to the statute, those categories are:

  • Disabled veterans.
  • Other protected veterans.
  • Armed Forces service medal veterans.
  • Recently separated veterans.

View Form VETS-4212

Immigration – New Department of Labor Fact Sheets

On November 20, 2014, President Obama announced a series of Immigration Accountability executive actions to help fix the nation’s broken immigration system. Using his authority, the President directed agencies across the federal government to implement specific elements of these executive actions.

The Department of Labor has issued the following fact sheets to explain the department’s role in support of the executive actions:

Officials Extend Deadline for Submitting Reinsurance Contribution Form

On November 14, 2014, federal officials responded to requests for an extension of the deadline for contributing entities to submit their 2014 enrollment counts in connection with Transitional Reinsurance Program contributions. The deadline has now been extended until 11:59 p.m. on December 5, 2014. The January 15, 2015 and November 15, 2015 payment deadlines remain unchanged.

Read the Announcement

Agencies Release FAQs about Affordable Care Act Implementation (Part XXII)

On November 6, 2014, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Department of Health and Human Services, and the Treasury released FAQs about Affordable Care Act Implementation (Part XXII) in an ongoing series of informal guidance regarding the Affordable Care Act (health care reform). This easy-to-read FAQ emphasizes prior technical guidance that prohibits employers from paying or reimbursing individual health policy premiums.

Employers are prohibited from making or offering any form of payment for individual policy premiums, whether through pretax reimbursements, premium reimbursement arrangements (HRAs), after-tax reimbursements, or cash compensation. Further, employers are prohibited from offering incentives to high-claims-risk employees to drop or forego coverage under the employer’s group health plan.

Read the FAQs

 

 


Will employer-sponsored health insurance survive?

Originally posted August 18, 2014 by Leah Shepherd on http://ebn.benefitnews.com
Will the link between employment and health insurance survive?

That’s one of the serious questions that a new report from the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI), a nonprofit research organization based in Washington, D.C., raises about the future of employee benefits.

Paul Fronstin, head of the health research and education program at EBRI, noted that the Affordable Care Act “levels the playing field like it's never been before,” as employees will not necessarily have to depend on getting health coverage through work.

“Employers are just not sure if they'll be offering coverage in the future,” he added.

In fact, the U.S. Congressional Budget Office estimates that 3 million to 5 million fewer Americans will obtain coverage through their employer each year from 2019 through 2022 than would have been the case without the ACA.

Starting next year, the ACA will require employers with at least 50 full-time employees to offer a minimum level of health coverage to workers, but some employers may prefer to pay a tax penalty instead of paying for the coverage. The need to recruit and retain good talent is what keeps employers offering benefits.

Kathryn Gaglione, a spokesperson for the National Association of Health Underwriters, says, “Offering comprehensive, competitive benefits makes for a more robust workforce and better compensation for individuals trying to support families … Many American business owners understand the benefit to offering employees and their families coverage. Employer-sponsored health plans might change, but they won’t be going anywhere.”

Most employees want and expect health insurance through their employer, especially knowing that it’s much less expensive to receive group coverage that comes with an employer’s premium contribution than to buy individual coverage on a health insurance exchange (with no employer contribution).

Nonetheless, “one could argue workers won’t need their employers any more for health benefits once the law is fully implemented, and health exchanges become a viable option to job-based health benefits,” Fronstin said.

The EBRI report also discusses a widespread lack of financial preparedness for retirement.

Only 17 percent of the lowest-income households would have enough money to cover 100 percent of average day-to-day expenses like housing, food, and transportation, plus the potentially catastrophic expenses like long-term care, compared with 86 percent of the highest-income households, according to EBRI research.

Not everyone is facing a crisis in retirement readiness. “There’s a tremendous amount of variation among U.S. households,” said Jack VanDerhei, EBRI’s research director. “Whether individual circumstances constitute a ‘crisis’ or not will depend on a number of factors. It's going to depend on your income quartile. It's going to depend on how many years you're eligible to participate in a defined contribution plan. It's going to depend on whether or not you look at long-term care costs.”

One of the most important factors in predicting a person’s retirement income adequacy is how many years an individual will be working for an employer that provides a defined-contribution retirement plan, VanDerhei said.


Supreme Court rulings raise standards for proving discrimination at work

Originally posted by Judy Greenwald on http://www.businessinsurance.com

Employers scored two victories before the U.S. Supreme Court last week that legal experts say will enable them to more effectively defend themselves in employment lawsuits.

In its 5-4 ruling in Maetta Vance v. Ball State University et al., the high court narrowed the definition of supervisor for purposes of discrimination cases.

And plaintiffs will find it more difficult to prove retaliation after the high court's 5-4 ruling inUniversity of Texas Southwestern Medical Center v. Nassar.

In Vance, the court held that an employee is a supervisor for purposes of vicarious liability under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 only if he or she has the power to make “tangible” employment actions against the victim, such as hiring or firing. The court said even if there is no tangible employment action, the employer may escape liability by establishing it exercised reasonable care to prevent and correct any harassing behavior.

The court said in cases when co-workers are inflicting psychological injury, employees may still prevail by showing the employer was negligent in permitting the harassment to occur. Its majority ruling criticized the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's broader definition of supervisor as a “study in ambiguity.”

The ruling, which affirmed a decision by the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago, said, “Under the definition of "supervisor” that we adopt today, the question of supervisor status, when contested, can very often be resolved as a matter of law before trial.

“The elimination of this issue from the trial will focus the efforts of the parties, who will be able to present their cases in a way that conforms to the framework that the jury will apply.”

The case involved an African-American food worker's allegations that she was the victim of racially based harassment by a white female whom she identified as a supervisor.

Bernard J. Bobber, a partner with Foley & Lardner L.L.P. in Milwaukee, who was not involved in the case, said the court accepted the 7th Circuit's definition of a supervisor and rejected the EEOC's definition, which employers do not like because the agency's definition “leaves lots of room for argument” about who is a supervisor.

“It's a good decision for employers” and “should provide some bright rules in those jurisdictions that aren't already required to follow that particular test,” said Steve A. Miller, a partner with Fisher & Phillips L.L.P. in Chicago, who was not involved in the case.

In its 5-4 ruling in Nassar, which involved a charge of discrimination and retaliation by a physician of Middle Eastern origin, the court held that a defendant is not liable for an action if he would have taken the same action anyway for other, nondiscriminatory reasons. It rejected the standard that requires a plaintiff to prove only that discrimination was a motivating factor for an adverse employment action.

Lessening the causation rules in cases of wrongful employer conduct prohibited by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 could “contribute to the filing of frivolous claims, which would siphon resources from efforts by employer, administrative agencies and courts to combat workplace harassment,” said the majority opinion, reversing a decision by a panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.

“This case is a true watershed development in that it presents a dramatic shift in the court's approach to retaliation claims,” said Gregory Keating, a shareholder with Littler Mendelson P.C. in Boston.

The court's ruling has “adopted a very strict test” for establishing causation, unlike several other cases decided by the court in recent years that made retaliation easier to establish, said Mr. Keating, who was not involved in the case.

Russell Cawyer, a partner with Kelly Hart & Hallman L.L.P. in Fort Worth, Texas, said, while the ruling will not reduce the number of retaliation charges filed by plaintiff attorneys, defendants will be more successful in having these cases dismissed.


Taking the Long View of New Hires

By Mark McGraw

May 22, 2012

Source: Human Resource Executive Online

Don't be too quick to measure the impact of new hires, experts say. Even though many companies are "concerned" about the way they appraise new professional and managerial-level hires, it's important to allow them to develop and grow before determining their worth to the organization. It's also important to establish meaningful metrics.

Professional football franchises are big businesses that depend on frequent injections of new talent to remain successful.

Look at the recent NFL draft, where each of the league's 32 clubs carefully selected a handful of college athletes they hope will lead their organizations to success for the next decade or so. These pro prospects are poked, prodded and closely scrutinized for months leading up to draft day, and teams have become increasingly thorough in testing the physical and mental capabilities of these young men before making sizable investments in them.

Still, predicting a just-drafted player's career trajectory is an inexact science. Highly touted players with big-name college pedigrees don't always pan out at the pro level, while unheralded, under-the-radar picks from smaller schools sometimes blossom into superstars.

And NFL teams and their highly paid talent evaluators are left to contemplate their methods for measuring the potential impact of these skilled, but unproven, new employees.

Sound familiar? There's an almost 50/50 chance it does, if findings from theFuturestep Global Talent Impact Study 2012 are any indication.

The survey of more than 1,500 HR professionals in five continents finds that 40 percent of respondents report they "are concerned" about the metrics and measurements they have in place to assess the impact of new professionals and managerial-level recruits on their organizations.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to measuring a new hire's potential impact, says Byrne Mulrooney, CEO of Futurestep, a global recruitment company with U.S. headquarters in Los Angeles.

More than half (52 percent) of survey respondents say they rely on two to five metrics to assess a new hire's potential value within the organization, he says.

Measurement tools will vary based on the industry and type of position, but there are broader measurements that an organization can use to assess the possible worth of a new hire, according to Dave Ulrich, professor of business at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan and a partner at the RBL Group, a Provo, Utah-based consulting firm.

For example, he says, "there are some generic metrics such as perceived performance (perceptions of those that work with the person), behavior (the extent to which the new hire's time is spent on the appropriate business issues) and 'time to productivity,' which is the time before the new manager or hire is fully productive in the new job."

Ideally, these essential processes should be in place before hiring a candidate for a managerial-level position, adds Ulrich, "then those expectations can be the standards to determine if someone is doing the right job."

A new hire's impact will evolve over time, and companies and their HR leaders should rely on a combination of metrics to assess value in the short-, medium- and long-term, says Mulrooney.

"There are three distinct dimensions to a new hire's impact," he says. "First is the immediate impact, when a candidate with the right skills arrives to get the job done. The consequential impact is when an individual's contributions transition from the actions within their own role to influencing others. The third dimension is when additional value is brought to the organization over time, and an employee shows potential to be promoted and grow within the company."

A key reason many companies wind up questioning their assessment tools is that they place too much weight on short-term results as a predictor of future, rather than more long-term success, says Mulrooney.

He notes that about two-thirds (67 percent) of respondents identify the immediate performance of a new professional and managerial-level employee as a critical indicator of a successful recruitment process.

"Our study unearthed an alarmingly short-term approach, with one-in-three respondents (35 percent) measuring impact within a new hire's first six months. Although it's encouraging that measurement is taking place, it's essential that a meaningful process is engaged to maximize impact in the long-term and retain staff," he says.

Indeed, HR leaders should take the long view when evaluating new managerial-level employees, says Keith Strodtman, research fellow of HR strategies at HfS Research, a research-analyst organization with U.S. headquarters in Boston.

"Most would acknowledge that it's more important to hire a quality employee than it is to hire a poor employee quickly," says Strodtman. "Yet, when it comes to hiring metrics, speed-of-hire or cost-of-hire are much more commonly measured than quality-of-hire. Speed and cost are important, but don't forget the big picture."

In the grander scheme, HR must be instrumental in defining the processes and measurements of the recruiting process that are meaningful to their organization and industry, and can often find reliable predictors of new hires' performance within their own organizations, says Strodtman.

"Profiling existing successful employees will provide the key indicators required to assess the potential value of a new hire," he says.

"HR leaders must also work with line-of-business hiring managers to define the metrics and processes that provide insight into the success of a new hire. The metric will vary depending on the goals of the business and the type of role being filled," he says.

"Companies may want to consider a global metric to measure overall quality-of-hires and specific metrics for key roles in the organization. A key is to focus on business outcomes and how successful employees deliver against the desired outcomes," he says.

Ultimately, HR professionals are "like architects who design the processes that capture the desired meaning within the company," says Ulrich. "And, like architects, HR professionals need to listen carefully to the desires of their clients -- in this case, line managers -- so that they can design the right systems."