It Turns Out Honesty Actually is the Best Policy: What it Means for the Workplace

The old adage, ‘Honesty is the best policy’, seems like an obvious and hackneyed platitude; of course honesty is better than dishonesty! Telling the truth is better than telling lies and anyone with a moral compass would agree. But it turns out that this is not merely a pithy aphorism from elementary moral philosophy. It’s actually backed up by the science. That’s right, there is scientific research all but proving the importance of employing honesty in the workplace.

Why is honesty important in the workplace?

          When it comes to human behavior in the workplace, there is a phenomenon known as counterproductive work behaviors (CWBs). If it is not obvious from the name, a CWB is any purposeful behavior intended to harm the organization or people in the organization. It can include anything from stealing to purposely withholding effort to intentionally sabotaging a work project to outright violence, and everything in between. Clearly, these aren’t behaviors that we like to see, but the reality is that CWBs cost organizations billions of dollars annually. And aside from the monetary cost, they also create an unsafe working environment for employees and damage employee morale. They are a big problem.

On the surface, it is not difficult to imagine why honesty would prevent people from engaging in these destructive behaviors. An honest person would be extremely uncomfortable stealing because stealing is a dishonest thing to do! An honest person would be extremely uncomfortable withholding effort because that involves dishonestly putting forth a level of competence that is incongruent with reality. Without even diving into the minutiae of scientific research, we can already draw a very clear line between honesty and, well, not engaging in CWBs.

There is scientific research all but proving the importance of employing honesty in the workplace.

Of course, there are other reasons people engage in CWBs and we would never claim that dishonesty is the only one. Situational factors are also important! For example, employees may lash out in response to high stress situations, employees may seek ill-advised vengeance in response to social injustice, and employees may simply be adhering to cultural norms of the workplace that do not discourage CWBs. However, one thing that should be obvious is that when you add dishonesty to the equations of any of the aforementioned situations, CWBs become even more likely!

What is Honesty-Humility?

Within the last twenty years, a new personality model has gained substantial traction in the psychological community. Two Canadian scholars were able to uncover a six-dimensional personality structure, called the HEXACO model of personality structure. This model expands upon the widely supported Big 5 model (which we covered in a previous post) of personality to include a brand new trait called “Honesty-Humility”.

 Much of what makes up Honesty-Humility is right there in its name! High scorers on this trait are honest and they are humble. To get a better sense of what this trait actually looks like, it is broken down into four subcomponents: sincerity, fairness, greed avoidance, and modesty. Thus, high scorers are sincere and genuine in their interactions with others, they are lenient when evaluating others. They are not materialistic or driven by superficial achievement markers like social status, and they are modest, rather than arrogant.

All boxed together, we have a person who is uncomfortable taking advantage of and deceiving others and is most comfortable telling the truth and treating people with fairness. Is it any surprise that such a person is unlikely to steal from their office or purposely waste time at work?

What does the science actually say?

Recent research indicates that Honesty-Humility, is among the strongest psychological predictors of counterproductive work behaviors that we know of! Not just one, but fifteen studies have demonstrated a clear and strong negative relationship between Honesty-Humility and CWBs. That means that the more honest and humble you are, the less likely you are to engage in these harmful behaviors.

Taken a step further, this means that just by administering a specific personality assessment, we can obtain invaluable insights into the likelihood of any given prospective employee to commit CWBs. It is a very powerful finding.

The problem is that organizations are not doing this. The best way to implement this knowledge is to administer personality assessments during the selection process. It is true that organizations already do use personality assessments in this way, but the vast majority of them unfortunately use less valid personality assessments, including the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. This is unfortunate because the MBTI is a well-known work of pseudoscience that offers little more insight than astrology.

Fifteen studies have demonstrated a clear and strong negative relationship between Honesty-Humility and CWBs.

But this is not a Myers-Briggs hit piece. This is a call to action for organizations everywhere that value informed decision-making in their hiring processes to consider the utility of validated personality measures in said processes.

Why should Honesty-Humility matter to your business?

Sure, this is interesting to learn about, but what are we supposed to do about it? Well, if you ask me, or any industrial/organizational psychologist for that matter, we would say that we need to utilize this information to make better use of personality assessments in the hiring process.

Although our selection processes are extremely ‘experience’-oriented, employers are quickly moving towards the use of personality assessments in an attempt to glean vital information about an applicant’s candidacy and potential for success. Unfortunately, it is still rare for companies to use scientifically validated instruments to assess applicants’ personalities. Too often, organizations use inconsistent measures of personality such as Myers-Briggs quizzes. Inconsistent, or unreliable measurement of personality leads to inconsistent decisions regarding your hiring practices. Therefore, we highly recommend to any HR professional that they thoroughly vet and require their assessment provider to produce evidence of reliability and validity for their personality assessment.

Honesty in hiring photo
Some of the most important indicators of employee quality like Honesty-Humility aren’t listed on resumes.

Furthermore, with effective personality measurement, you can help guide your workforce towards reducing CWBs. Counterproductive work behaviors cost organizations billions of dollars every year. You can contribute to thwarting the far-reaching effects of this toxic phenomenon. All you have to do is hire honest employees.

If you want to prevent theft, hire honest employees. If you want to prevent workplace violence, hire honest employees. If you want to prevent intentional time-wasting, hire honest employees. If you want to prevent absenteeism, hire honest employees. Honesty, after all, is the best policy.

Key Takeaways

  • Common counterproductive work behaviors (CWBs) include intentional time-wasting, purposefully withholding effort, theft, violence, and absenteeism.
  • CWBs cost organizations billions of dollars annually.
  • Honesty-Humility is the strongest personality predictor of CWBs modern psychology has to offer.
  • Honesty-Humility can be measured with a simple personality assessment.
  • If you want to save money, create a safer work environment, and overall prevent CWBs, hire honest employees.

Article by

-Pasquale Tosto, Talent Analyst Research Intern, Workforce Lifecycle Analytics

How to Maintain Employee Engagement Levels High Once Your Company Starts Growing

Employee engagement is the critical aspect of workplace happiness, regardless of internal and external circumstances. It’s not a fading trend or a buzzword; employee engagement is a critical part of a comprehensive business strategy.

High engagement levels indicate a great employee experience and result in profitability boost, increased productivity, higher customer satisfaction, and better retention. Because of that, business leaders and HR professionals should continuously strive to create an environment and employee experience that motivates workers to focus. To really immerse themselves in their assignments. 

This especially applies to startups and companies in industries that have been particularly affected by the economic downturn caused by Covid that are scaling up operations and hiring again. Yet, there is some evidence that a very low percentage of employees are engaged.

Fifteen percent are actively disengaged, an increase compared to June 2020. Companies that are rapidly growing must avoid turnover at all costs. They can’t scale up successfully without efficient and productive workers ready to help new coworkers integrate into the workplace. 

Here’s what you should know about how to maintain employee engagement levels high if you’re scaling up your company.

What challenges do companies encounter when rapidly growing?

Scaling up requires a thorough strategy and preparedness to react to unexpected circumstances fast. When a company undergoes fast growth, its structure typically changes.

That often means new control mechanisms and hierarchies, resulting in decreased flexibility and agility. Thus, introducing new departments, teams, employees, and stakeholders can cause reporting and chain of command to become messy and inefficient.

..employee engagement is a critical part of a comprehensive business strategy.

That tends to affect overall motivation and performance in the workplace. Because of that, it’s crucial to be mindful about scaling up and identify strategies to engage the staff and make them feel comfortable with the scope of ongoing changes.

But despite how much you plan, issues will inevitably happen. 

1. Recognition – A Low Risk High Reward Investment

People will probably be proud to work for a growing company because that also means additional possibilities for them. But with time, they may start showing dissatisfaction because they can’t keep up with the change, new coworkers disrupt the team dynamic, or they feel you forget their needs. 

Moreover, company culture will likely transform (adapting to business growth,) making it difficult for your longest-standing hires to fit in. 

2. You Might Recruit and Hire Too Fast

Budget approval for team expansion is exciting, but you should avoid rushing the process. You may hire new employees too fast. Instead of increasing in team size, ensure you’re recruiting and hiring the most compatible workers that fit the role. 

If you overlook details, you risk hiring people who aren’t the right culture fit or lack critical skills. As a result, team cohesion could suffer, affecting the overall productivity and engagement levels. 

3. Communication Could Become Messy

Companies are like children. They grow up too fast!

Before scaling up, your meetings likely meant that all departments and team members would sit together and discuss projects, plans, and announcements. But when a company grows, most units have their own meetings, creating data silos and affecting collaboration.

If employees are unaware of what the other departments are doing and have no access to information they need for their assignments, they could become demotivated and unproductive. 

5 Tips on How to Maintain Employee Engagement Levels High When Scaling Up

1. Set Clear Objectives and Expectations

It’s crucial to have a sense of direction while scaling and determine what has changed with business goals in the future. Be transparent about new expectations. Discuss how new departments, team members, and stakeholders will affect the job roles and responsibilities. 

Ensure that nobody feels confused about their position in the workplace and knows what to expect. Otherwise, your earliest employees could start losing motivation, questioning how much will the scope of their work change. Questioning if their jobs are becoming redundant. 

Because of that, you should track their daily needs and potential. Set SMART objectives for your staff as that helps them strive towards achievable results and understand their assignments. 

2. Provide Regular Feedback

Everyone likes to know that their effort contributes to something bigger and isn’t pointless. Because of that, employees need regular and constructive feedback. It gives them insights into how they can improve and how much they have accomplished. 

If that doesn’t happen, they will start doubting that their work is meaningless and that it makes no difference how much effort they put into their tasks. Feedback inspires employees to work harder because it reassures them that their input matters.

For example, 69 percent of workers say they would put in an extra effort if they felt their achievements get sufficient recognition. Thus, highly engaged employees receive feedback at least once a week

Know the signs to look for.

3. Ensure Continuous, Transparent, and Open Communication

Foster transparent communications across all departments and levels to ensure everyone has access to the information they need to perform their work well and collaborate. Discourage gatekeeping information because that prevents employees from completing their assignments and getting the necessary resources.

Regular meetings and data sharing are essential, especially in rapidly growing companies. For instance, 86 percent of employees cite a lack of collaboration and communication for workplace failures. 

Invest in stable collaborative platforms and ensure that your teams work efficiently regardless of their location. Establish the necessary tech infrastructure and encourage employees to share ideas with their team members and other departments.

4. Reinforce Company Culture and Values

In a growing business, it’s crucial to reinforce the company culture and remind your staff that there might be some changes, but the essence remains the same. That will reassure employees that the core workplace values, objectives, and conditions will stay the way they were from the beginning. 

Company culture was one of the principal reasons employees chose and stay with your organization. Because of that, you must nurture its identity and continue striving towards the original mission. 

..despite how much you plan (when scaling,) issues will inevitably happen. 

5. Gather Feedback on the Employee Experience and Employee Engagement

Finally, you should track and measure employee engagement levels, regardless of your company size and scaling up ambitions. Otherwise, you won’t know what you’re doing well and what requires tweaks. Making decisions about your strategy, policies, and practices without employee feedback is like a doctor trying to make some heart or lung diagnosis without a stethoscope.  

The first place to begin in creating an engaged workforce is to listen to your employees’ needs. Moreover, these insights allow you to engage workers using strategies that work best for your company and staff.

Implement the right metrics and KPIs to track how you are improving the employee experience through your organization development efforts based on this needs analysis. Use engagement, entry, and exit surveys to identify what drives engagement and retention in your workplace and how you can enhance your efforts. 

Key Takeaways

Employee Engagement is of paramount importance for high-performing workplaces with happy employees who feel an intrinsic motivation to go the extra mile. Because of that, business leaders and HR professionals should continuously create initiatives and motivate their staff.

However, it’s also necessary to track and measure the efficacy of your strategies. That requires data-driven approach and relevant analytics that tap into employee engagement. 

Article by

-Brandon Jordan, Workforce Lifecycle Analytics

Closing the Scientist-Practitioner Gap: Can Personality Defeat a Pandemic?

Yi-Feng Chen, N., Crant, J. M., Wang, N., Kou, Y., Qin, Y., Yu, J., & Sun, R. (2021). When there is a will there is a way: The role of proactive personality in combating COVID-19. Journal of Applied Psychology, 106(2), 199-213.

Synopsis By: Caroline Deal & Brandon Jordan

Introduction on Personality

Personality clearly plays a substantial role in our lives. It impacts everything, such as how an individual interacts with new people, chooses a partner, organizes their living space, and fulfills their job responsibilities.

In light of the pandemic, research by Chen et al. delves into what role a proactive personality may play in combating crises – specifically COVID-19. Their study sampled healthcare professionals in Wuhan, China shortly after the crisis began and found evidence that having a proactive personality can have advantages that significantly increase an individual’s ability to persevere and thrive in challenging times. These advantages are relevant to other obstacles in different spheres of work as well.

First, some important definitions:

  • Proactive Personality – the dispositional tendency to create environmental change; proactive people scan for and create opportunities, demonstrate initiative, and persevere when facing obstacles.
  • Strengths – personal characteristics and abilities that enable greater performance and higher energy levels.
  • Strengths Use – the ability to make use of one’s personal strengths in a way that energizes the individual and empowers them to achieve peak performance.
  • Well-being – this refers to the state of one’s physical and mental health. It was measured in terms of resilience (can recover and bounce back from difficulties) and the ability to thrive (can prosper and succeed).
  • Routine Disruption – this refers to an individual’s schedule changing from a typical schedule to an unpredictable one as a result of an event.
  • Perceived Organizational Support – the extent to which an employee feels that the company they work for supports and cares for them.

“having a proactive personality can have advantages.. to persevere and thrive in challenging times.”

The researchers hypothesized that proactive personality would play a role in improving job performance and well-being in times of crisis. These benefits have applicability in any workplace and help to uncover the roles of several factors that affect routine disruption, perceived organizational support, and physical exposure to the virus.

Key Findings

  1. People with higher levels of proactive personality were more likely to engage in behaviors that utilized their strengths
  2. When employees utilized their strengths, job performance increased
  3. Resilience and thriving, the two components of well-being, were both benefitted when employees utilized strengths
  4. When employees felt supported by their organization, they were still able to utilize their strengths even in the face of routine disruptions
  5. Physical exposure to the virus impacted the relationship between strengths use and job performance such that higher exposure was linked to a greater performance bonus, meaning when employees were exposed to the virus, utilizing their strengths was more important for effective performance
A flowchart illustrating how personality affects resiliance.

To break down these findings a bit, this essentially means that proactive personalities lead to the creation of more opportunities to utilize one’s strengths. These individuals draw on their own unique characteristics in a way that contributes to getting work done better than before. By expressing their strengths, they re-energize themselves and can capitalize on what they are good at to tailor an experience to their values. Naturally, this leads to greater performance in the workplace as these individuals are more invested in what they are doing and can adapt and change their environment to overcome new obstacles successfully.

To give an example of this in action, consider a nurse treating patients in a rapidly filling hospital. Perhaps she is exceptionally skilled at consoling patients who are about to undergo treatment. When COVID hits, she sees it as an opportunity to use her ability to console others during a time when little was known about the effects of COVID or the method of spreading it. She then capitalizes on her ability to help people feel less stressed and may even use it to help her coworkers become more effective by consoling their worries about this new virus.

By using her ability to ease patients’ fears and comfort coworkers during an unexpected crisis, patients feel less stressed and are more likely to go through necessary procedures without hesitation, and coworkers are less likely to make errors as a result of feeling stressed. Therefore, she has altered the environment in a way that increases the rate at which patients are in and out of the hospital and has improved the performance of coworkers.

The ability to shape an environment in a way that allows individuals to better meet their needs by using their abilities contributes to increased resilience and ability to thrive. These two measures of well-being are especially important in overcoming crises such as an unexpected pandemic, the death of a staff member, or even tensions created by war.

By expressing their strengths, they re-energize themselves and can capitalize on what they are good at..”

Proactive individuals shine especially in times of stress and uncertainty, as shown by the positive relationship between proactive personality and strengths use during times of routine disruption. High levels of perceived organizational support are an important ingredient in this combination, meaning that if a proactive individual believes their company cares for and supports them, they will be able to better capitalize on their proactive personality and the benefits it brings in times of chaos.

Recognizing Proactive Individuals

Proactive individuals play a crucial role in the workplace during times of crisis. So, the question arises: How do you recognize an individual with a proactive personality? Here are some characteristics that proactive individuals typically possess:

  • High levels of initiative
  • Ability to bounce back after a setback
  • Energized by opportunities to utilize their abilities
  • Unafraid of change
  • Seeks out opportunities for growth
  • Able to motivate themselves
  • Always looking for new and better ways of doing work

Both are relatively equal in terms of consistency and linking to the desired outcomes, so it all depends on what you want to assess your applicants for!


An active approach to work ultimately results in higher levels of job performance and well-being during times of crisis. By using their strengths to alter the workplace environment in a way that improves how work is done, proactive individuals create opportunities to bring out the best of their abilities. Through doing this, they align their work with their values and become more invested in it, leading to greater performance.

They excel especially in times of chaos and disruption and are more equipped to handle the mental toll if they feel that their organization supports them. They strive to make the process of doing work better and are constantly searching for ways to improve. To them, obstacles are chances to become more efficient and improve the process of work.

Workforce Lifecycle Analytics specializes in identifying personality traits. Our assessments are scientifically driven and specially developed to recognize characteristics in employees – because proactive individuals just might make the difference between success and failure, especially during times of crisis.

Improving Diversity Through the Hiring Process

Finding diverse talent has never been easier, but how do you set new hires up for success? It starts with fair and objective recruitment and selection. Hiring candidates without an inclusive and valid selection process is like grocery shopping for a new recipe without looking at the ingredient list. Unfortunately, you’ll most likely forget some ingredients and the entire flavor of your dish may be a little off. Hiring, much like cooking, requires a diversity of different parts. Employee screening can take multiple forms, such as structured interviews, cognitive ability, and personality assessments. In this post, you will learn more about improving the hiring process through pre-hire assessments and adverse impact analyses.

When should you use a pre-hire assessment?

Hiring teams must first carefully identify and consider the problem before purchasing or building an assessment. HR practitioners in coordination with hiring managers must first isolate (through job analysis and competency modeling) which skills, knowledge, and observable abilities and other characteristics new hires must have on Day 1 and which are the most important for success. Hiring teams may go even further to define requirements as related to the organization’s values and purpose.

After defining and reviewing requirements, carefully consider the outcomes that are in need of improvement. Many teams do not give enough critical thought to why they want to assess candidates. Is the assessment used to help drive better employee performance? Is the objective to reduce turnover? Perhaps to increase the sales revenue new representatives generate within the first 6 months of joining? Assessments alone do not improve diversity; however, they can help teams target improvements around a specified objective. Personality assessments are indeed one of the most unbiased tools with regard to diversity. There are dozens of assessments on the market and each assessment has its strength for improving certain outcomes. So, focus on defining those outcomes first before looking into assessments.

Hiring candidates without an inclusive and valid selection process is like grocery shopping for a new recipe without looking at the ingredient list.

What makes a hiring assessment fair?

Fairness is largely related to a candidate’s perception of the assessment. Perceptions aside, if you’re using assessments for hiring/selection, they should be job-related (valid) and reliably predict job performance. Generally, an assessment is considered valid if it truly measures what it is intended (a proxy for desired behavior on the job) and scores on the assessment are correlated with the job-related outcomes you wish to improve. Test vendors will usually provide and technical manual or validation studies to show validity and job relatedness. They’ll also describe any sort of lie detection or impression management measures included in the assessment. The more validity evidence a vendor can produce and the larger the number of individuals included in the studies, the more confidence you can have in that assessment.

people riding carousel in park
Not the type of “fair” we’re talking about.

At the same time, pre-hire tests vendors should be able to show they have internal consistency and test-retest reliability. Internal consistency and reliability means the items are intercorrelated and are measuring the same general intended construct. To check test-retest reliability, scores on the assessment should be fairly consistent if given to the same person each time they are assessed.

Validity and reliability are the very basic things to consider when developing or selecting an assessment, however there are several other factors to consider as well.

What is adverse impact and why should you measure it?

Adverse impact is the unintended negative effect a biased selection procedure/assessment/tool has on a protected class. When protected groups are discriminated against unknowingly during a selection process, like a hiring or promotion decision, it creates adverse impact. In the US, protected classes include race, national origin, sex (including gender identity, sexual orientation) age (40 and over), religion, disability status, and veteran status.

It is important to investigate and document if your selection tools and processes show any evidence of unfair treatment. If you have a biased process or assessment in place, you can be open to legal risk. Employers in the public and private sectors, employment agencies, unions and joint labor-management committees controlling apprentice programs are subject to nondiscrimination laws. Conversely, government contractors and subcontractors are subject to non-discrimination executive orders. Measuring and mitigating adverse impact ensures compliance with applicable laws and executive orders. But most importantly, it broadens the pool of applicants and is just plain good business.

It is important to investigate and document if your selection tools and processes show any evidence of unfair treatment. If you have a biased process or assessment in place, you can be open to legal risk.

Measuring Adverse Impact

In hiring, adverse impact can be measured across the entire hiring process (percent of applicants who are ultimately hired) or segmented by each step that screens out candidates (resume screen, pre-hire assessment, interview). The SHRM recommends first finding if adverse impact exists for the overall selection process for each job.

If the overall selection process has an adverse impact, the adverse impact of the individual steps should be analyzed. In its most basic form, measuring adverse impact involves checking the ratio of hires to applicants for each protected class. Then, you must look for differences within each of these classes to see if one subgroup is disproportionately screened out. This is known as the Four Fifths Rule.

 Other methods of affirming adverse impact such as the z-test and Fisher’s Exact test (which measures the impact seen as statistically significant along with a check of ratios) are standard procedures. They’re great methods used to find adverse impact. Organizations should utilize these as part of their evaluation of hiring procedures.

asian lawyer working with laptop near scales of justice
H should lead to interviews in the office, not in here!

What is the relevant legislation affecting diversity in hiring methods?

            In regards to diversity, there are several decades of case law surrounding employment decisions. Case in point, all criteria used in decisions must be valid (job related) whether it is objective or subjective via Watson v. Fort Worth Bank & Trust, 487 U.S. 977 (1988). This is a build on the Albermarle Paper Company v. Moody, 422 U.S. 405 (1975) case where the job-relatedness concept was highly reinforced. The Supreme Court found that even though the employer had employed a professional psychologist to demonstrate a correlation between the job performance rating and test scores, correlations were only illustrated in 3 out of 8 job groupings where the assessment was applied. In this instance, the employer did not conduct any job analysis.


First, define your objectives when screening out applicants. Next, use appropriate pre-hire screening steps combined with impact analysis. If you do this successfully, you’ll have a winning recipe which results in the reduction of bias in hiring. Diversity is built into the culture and hires are prepared for the job when you have a processes guided by clear objectives tracked over time. Finally, if you have any questions feel free to reach out to the experts at Workforce Lifecycle Analytics. Happy hiring!

Other relevant hiring diversity resources:

Diversity in the workplace is a hot topic right now. But how can your business ensure that hiring the best people coincides with building a diverse office?

Disclaimer: This post does not replace legal counsel.

Article by

Brandon Jordan
Brandon Jordan

As founder of WLA, Brandon leverages his experience in talent and organizational development to help businesses grow. Prior to WLA, Brandon worked for Willis Towers Watson, IBM, Kenexa, and Batrus Hollweg Intl. Brandon has a BA in Psychology from the University of North Texas and an MA in Industrial & Organizational Psychology from the University of Tulsa.

Closing the Scientist-Practitioner Gap: The Importance of Structured Interviews

Levashina, J., Hartwell, C. J., Morgeson, F. P., & Campion, M. A. (2014). The Structured Employment Interview: Narrative and Quantitative Review of the Research Literature. Personnel Psychology, 67(1), 241-293. doi:10.1111/peps.12052

Synopsis By: Juliette Lloyd, Brooke Ackerman & Brandon Jordan

Preparing your interview is the best way to get a prepared employee: the importance of structured interviews

The employment interview is the most widely used selection method used. It is rare, nearly impossible, to be hired without the use of an interview. But what makes some interviews effective, and others ineffective at choosing the right candidate? How can an organization create interviews to be a valuable selection tool to find the best possible new hires?

Numerous studies have consistently found that structured interviews are more successful overall than unstructured interviews in both identifying competencies & predicting other important outcomes (i.e. ethical behavior, job performance, etc.) An interview is defined as a personally interactive process of one or more people (i.e. interviewers) asking questions verbally to another person (i.e., candidate) and evaluating the answers to determine the qualifications of that person for employment decisions. They can be unstructured (i.e. the interviewer does not prepare questions in advance) or structured (i.e. the interviewer has preset questions to ask across each applicant.) “Probing” is a follow-up question that is intended to supplement an incomplete response from an applicant or seek to clarify information.

..studies have consistently found the structured interviews are overall better & more successful..

We review this article which organized a deep examination of the extant literature to see what an interview was, what constitutes a structured interview, why it’s important, what concepts an interview can assess, what types of questions are asked, how interviewers can evaluate candidates, and how interviewers can follow-up or probe on questions in a structured interview.

How can you avoid interview bias in personality assesments?

Structure in an interview reduces the impact of implicit biases against race, gender, disability, etc. Having a set structure for interviewers to follow reduces the impact of their own perceptions, as every candidate is asked the same questions.

Often, candidates engage in impression management, a process where people attempt to influence the perceptions & images others form of them during social interaction. Structure may have an impact on impression management as well. While research is a little mixed, a structured interview may reduce the amount of impression management tactics taken by the interviewee, the level of “faking” done by the interviewee, or allow more time for the interviewee to show their true self.

Structured interviews can assess more than just job-related knowledge, skills, and abilities. Research has shown that structured interviews are an excellent way to assess personality, especially when the questions are written to assess personality traits.

What are the components of “structure” in a structured interview?

Components are split between content structure (i.e. things that have to do with the content of the interview questions & answers) and evaluation structure (i.e. things that have to do with how the interviewer(s) rates the candidate).

The authors found 18 categories of structure used in interviews. Most successful interviews used at least six of these categories in structuring their interview. The most frequently used categories to structure an interview are:

  1. Basing questions on a job analysis
  2. Asking the same questions to each candidate
  3. Using better types of questions (i.e. situational or behavior-based)
  4. Using anchored rating scales
  5. Rating each question rather than the candidate as a whole
  6. Providing interviewer training

What types of questions are asked in a structured interview? (PBQ vs. SQ)

In general, there are two types of questions a structured interview can ask:

  • Past-Behavior Questions (PBQs): Based on the premise that past behavior predicts future behavior, these questions ask applicants to describe what they did in past job-related situations. Generally assesses experience and perhaps some personality facets.
  • Situational Questions (SQs): Based on goal-setting theory and the assumption that intentions predict future behavior, these questions asks applicants to describe what they would do in hypothetical job-related situations. Generally assesses job knowledge and cognitive ability.

Structured interviews can assess more than just job-related knowledge, skills, and abilities.

Both are relatively equal in terms of consistency and linking to the desired outcomes, so it all depends on what you want to assess your applicants for!

Can interviewers follow-up structured interview questions?

Yes! These researchers have proposed that planned probing (i.e. set out questions to follow up with in case of a deficient answer) will both lead to more informational answers overall & better user experience than unlimited probing or restricting probing. Having more difficult probing questions may also lead to a decrease in interviewers “faking” their answers.

What can interviewers use to evaluate their applicants? (rating scales)

Many structured interviews use anchored rating scales (ARs), which provide behavioral, descriptive, or evaluative examples to illustrate points on the rating scale. Through using ARs, the interviewer can compare the applicants’ responses to the different “anchors” for each question.

Using ARs (or BARs) makes interviews more consistent and more accurate by controlling for biases, encouraging consistent ranking across interviewers, and producing consistent information for interviewers. These need to be job-relevant, and these researchers have proposed that having all rating points anchored (i.e. a description for 1, a description for 2, etc.) will lead to an even more reliable and accurate interview process.

Below is an example of what a customer service worker would look like for an “Attention to Detail” competency:

• Did not provide answers
• Exhibits inability to communicate simple ideas to others
• Does not make sure if others understand the information that they communicate
• Shows some ability of breaking down information in an easily understandable format
• Follows up with others to make sure they understand
• Able to clearly break down information in to simplest formats for understanding of others
• Ensures others understand information during and after communication
An example of an anchored rating scale for an “Attention to Detail” competency.


Structured interviews are a reliable & accurate way to assess the knowledge, skills, abilities, and other competencies that predict job performance. Having structure in your interview process provides a framework for which interviewers can review an applicant in an unbiased & simple way.

Workforce Lifecycle Analytics works with a number of organizations to improve employee hiring and selection. We have a number of core structured interview templates for various job families and often customize structured interviews for clients from job analysis or competency models.


Levashina, J., Hartwell, C. J., Morgeson, F. P., & Campion, M. A. (2014). The Structured Employment Interview: Narrative and Quantitative Review of the Research Literature. Personnel Psychology,67(1), 241-293. doi:10.1111/peps.12052

Article By Brooke Ackerman, Juliette Lloyd, and Brandon Jordan

Closing the Scientist-Practitioner Gap: Framework for Linking Safety Climate to Safety Performance

Griffin, M. A., & Neal, A. (2000). Perceptions of safety at work: A framework for linking safety climate to safety performance, knowledge, and motivation. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 5(3), 347-358.

Safety is a foundational element for many organizations. But how do organizations influence individuals to adhere to safe practices, raising safety performance? According to Griffin & Neal (2000), it’s all about organizational safety climate.

Overall, the safety climate of an organization affects the employees’ knowledge & motivation to behave in a safe manner, which directly affects performance.

Griffin & Neal proposed a framework in which overall safety is affected by the organizational safety climate through its relationship with safety knowledge & skill with safety practices and the employees’ motivation to participate in safety-related behaviors.

  • Important concepts to know
    • Safety climate: employees’ perceptions of the practices, procedures, and rewards in the organization related to safety
    • Safety performance: work behaviors relevant to increased safety
  • Their final model (shown below) was tested in two studies using surveys of large mining & manufacturing organizations. Here is what they found.
  • Safety performance is differentiated by three basic questions:
    • “What is safety performance?” (i.e., safety performance components)
      • Safety performance consists of
        • Safety compliance – Core safety activities that need to be done to be safe like wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) and adhering to other safety related policies.
        • Safety participation – Behaviors that don’t directly contribute to safety, but help develop an environment in support of safety like participating in voluntary safety activities or attending safety training.
    •  What directly determines safety performance?Safety performance is directly determined by knowledge & motivation to complete safety activities.
    •  What indirectly determines safety performance? Safety performance is indirectly determined by safety climate, which influences knowledge and motivation.
  • Safety climate is hierarchical – This means that someone’s small, specific perceptions of safety (i.e., how they feel about trainings available or how they think managers value safety) contributes to their overall view about what safety climate is in their organization
  • Indicators of safety climate – Manager values, safety communication, safety practices, personnel training, and safety equipment.
  • Safety climate influences performance through employees feeling more motivated & more knowledgeable about safety. Meaning, that when employees feel a good safety climate in their organization they are more likely to feel motivated to follow safety norms & that they have retained important safety information.
  • Safety climate influences going the extra mile for safety – The relationship they found between safety compliance motivation & safety participation indicates that employees who feel motivated to complete only those core safety activities are less likely to go above and beyond in developing a supportive safety environment. Meaning, if your employees are only focused on what they have to do to be safe, they likely won’t try to go the extra mile to ensure a supportive safety environment.

When looking at ways to improve safety, it may be important for an organization to look at how it presents itself to employees regarding safety. Ask yourself these questions to identify safety climate in your organizations:

  • Are managers valuing safety?
  • Are trainings in place so employees know what to do to be safe?
  • Do employees feel like they are able to report safety issues without reprimand? 
  • Do you have a good idea of what your overall safety culture is for your workforce?

A blog post by Creative Safety Supply states that building a great safety climate takes time, commitment, and a whole lot of positivity from the entire organization (See the full post here). Workforce Lifecycle Analytics has expertise in measuring safety climate assessing the relationship between safety climate and safety outcomes to help create a positive safety environment for your workforce.


Safety Climate. (2018, May 24). Retrieved June 24, 2020, from https://blog.creativesafetysupply.com/safety-climate/

Article By Brooke Ackerman, Juliette Lloyd, and Brandon Jordan

Closing the Scientist-Practitioner Gap: How Do I Choose Between Job Analysis and Competency Modeling?

Shippmann, J., Ash, R., Battista, M., Carr, L., Eyde, L., Hesketh, B., et al. (2000). The practice of competency modeling. Personnel Psychology, 53, 703−740.

HR leaders are often tasked with developing job descriptions, performance appraisals, training programs, employee selection tools, career planning programs and much more. Often, the best practice first step is to systematically evaluate each relevant position within your organization as a basis for creating these programs. This evaluation is often done through performing job analysis or creating a competency model. While both of these methods are quite similar, each has its own strengths and limitations, as well as being better suited for different talent programs. In this article summary, we will outline practices tied to each approach and which have more scientific rigor behind them.

Job analysis has generally started from a position focused approach. Meaning that the core tasks, duties, and responsibilities make up the bulk of what job analysis is focused on. Competency modeling, on the other hand, has taken an employee/person-focused approach where the attributes, characteristics, and abilities of the employee that functions within the job are the core focus of the process. Job analysis looks at the “what” and competency modeling looks at the “how”. Both job analysis and competency modeling can include elements of the alternate approach. In job analysis, knowledge, skills, abilities, and other characteristics, can be compared as similar to competencies describing the employee. In competency modeling, competencies can specify specific skills or tasks which is very much aligned with the approach to job analysis.

As HR leaders, you can leverage these KSAOs, task inventories, and competencies to inform selection, training, performance assessment, and much more. Job analysis or competency modeling often provides the core base of knowledge from which all employee related decisions and interventions can be developed.

So given that both of these approaches can be used to describe the work the employee does and the employees completing the work, how does one choose which approach to use?

Jeffrey Schippman and colleagues completed a research project focusing on just this question. They used experts to rate the scientific rigor behind each approach to evaluation jobs on 10 evaluative criteria and 7 non-evaluative criteria. Each criteria is presented below with a short description about the results of the comparison rating of scientific rigor between job analysis and competency modeling.

For your reference, when they say evaluative criteria it is referencing how the work of collecting job analysis or competency model information is carried out. In other words how you would collect, analyze and report information about the job/job family. When they discuss the non-evaluative criteria, it references the “other” comparable aspects of the two approaches not related to performing the work itself. This includes what the purpose of performing a job analysis or competency model (Ex: What talent programs will this inform?) and the focus of your research (Ex: Technical skills vs core competencies), and others.

Table 1 Level of Rigor: Job Analysis versus Competency Modeling

Evaluative Criteria                                                                                       More Rigor

  1. Method of Investigation & Data collection                                        Job Analysis
    1. Job Analysis provides more structure behind the development of methods aimed at collecting job-related information. Tools such as interviews, focus groups, observation, questionnaires, and work diaries all have direct connections to the job-related information content they collect.
  2. Type of descriptor content collected                                                  Job Analysis
    1. Job analysis puts more effort into determining the reason behind collecting specific job-related information. E.g., Focus more on task inventories, or focus more on worker characteristics, or is there a specific mix needed for the purpose of the investigation.
  3. Procedures for developing descriptive content                                  Job Analysis
    1. The descriptor content used to create the models often follows specific procedural steps for job analysis. Using online databases that were systematically developed or drawing from interviews and focus groups provide a data-backed source for your descriptor (e.g., task or KSAO statements) content.
  4. Level of detail of descriptive content                                                 Job Analysis
    1. Job Analysis aims for being as precise as possible about each aspect of a job. Statements are intended to provide exact detail of the portion of the job described rather than broad categories or sections of the job.
  5. Linking research results to business goals                                          Competency Model
    1. Competency modeling is better for linking to overall
      business goals because it examines how competencies
      are linked across job groups and apply to the
      organization globally.
  6. Extent of descriptor content review                                                    Job Analysis
    1. Job Analysis relies on organizational experts to review and verify the accuracy of job-related information and generated content. This process can be utilized by competency modeling but is often left to organizational leadership to determine.
  7. Ranking of prioritizing of descriptor content                                     Job Analysis
    1. Job Analysis provides opportunities to formally rank job-related information on multiple criteria (e.g., importance, frequency, consequence of error) providing a more detailed and nuanced understanding of the work completed within a job.
  8. Assessment of reliability of results                                                     Job Analysis
    1. Job analysis provides opportunities to assess the reproducibility of the model through consistency in job-related information collected and through consistency in ranking of job-related information by experts.
  9. Retention criteria for items and categories                                         Job Analysis
    1. Job Analysis utilizes the ranking and judgments of job content experts to decide if any job descriptors need to be edited or removed from the model. Through an iterative process, the same criteria for including and excluding content is employed for a consistent and detailed approach to developing the final model.
  10. Documentation of research process                                                    Job Analysis
    1. Job Analysis provides multiple opportunities to use the steps of model development to record and retain the key decisions made and the content of the model.

Non-evaluative Criteria

  1. Focus on core competencies                                                               Competency Model
    1. Competency Modeling does best at focusing on the broad sets of abilities that apply across jobs and are needed to be successful within an organization.
  2. Focus on Technical Skills                                                                   Job Analysis
    1. Job Analysis is better at focusing on the nuanced skills and abilities
      that provides an accurate depiction of each job, how they
      are similar and different.
  3. Organizational Fit vs. Job Match                                                       Competency Model
    1. By focusing on abilities and characteristics that are tied to organizational goals and the future development of a job position, competency modeling is better at providing organizational ft versus the fit to a job as it is currently constituted.
  4. Focus on Values and Personality Orientation                                    Competency Model
    1. Through leveraging the input of the highest levels of the organization and taking a top-down approach to the job function, competency modeling provides a better avenue to incorporate company values and personality into the job model.
  5. Face validity of content                                                                      Competency Model
    1. Through its broad encompassing descriptions and organizational content, competency models are often easily recognized as being related to the job and organization just based upon the descriptions.
  6. Training and development applications (needs analysis)                   Competency Model
    1. Through the identification of broad encompassing categories of abilities and skills, competency modeling often provides an outline for potential training and development areas for incumbents and new hires.
      *Job Analysis was rated very similarly for these criteria and can thrive for similar applications.
  7. Selection & Decisions Application                                                     Job Analysis
    1. Job Analysis is better suited for creating selection tools such (e.g., assessments & structured interviews) because of the rigor behind developing the connection between KSAOs and job performance.

The Results

According to scientific experts, Job Analysis tends to have more rigor in its approach to evaluating jobs. Whereas Competency Modeling is more rigorous in its approach to fulfilling the non-evaluative criteria that are important to organizations. One way to interpret this is that Job analysis is really well suited for helping define how jobs are different. For example, when developing selection tools or compensation packages, it is really important to understand how each job differs and is similar so fair and accurate decisions can be made for hiring and compensation purposes.

Alternatively, when your purpose is to identify a broad set of skills or abilities that apply across multiple jobs and tie back to your organization’s values, competency modeling may be the best fit. However, regardless of your intended purpose, you may want to consider studying about how each approach, Job Analysis and Competency Modeling, accomplish each stage of the model build and then use elements from both to strengthen the rigor behind the base of knowledge you are developing for your future employee-related decision making.

Article by By Thomas B. Ayres and Brandon Jordan

Closing the Scientist-Practitioner Gap: The Good, The Bad, And the Unknown About Telecommuting

Gajendran, R. S., & Harrison, D. A. (2007). The good, the bad, and the unknown about telecommuting: Meta-analysis of psychological mediators and individual consequences. Journal of Applied Psychology, 92, 1524 –1541.

In a 2007 meta-analysis of 46 studies consisting of almost 13,000 remote employees, Gajendran and Harrison found telecommuting to have a moderate but beneficial relationship with key outcomes of the employee experience.

COVID-19 has changed the landscape of the work environment for many organizations. Following recent social distancing policies, a reported 34% of the U.S. workforce shifted from commuting to an office to working from home (Brynjolfsson, et. al, 2020). With the country beginning to lift these policies, many employees are expected to return to the office, but for others, this might not be the case. Many organizations, such as Twitter and Square, are giving their employees the option to work from home indefinitely (Brownlee, 2020).

What Does “telecommuting” mean?

Telecommuting is the performance of work activities outside of the primary or central workplace. It is NOT contractual or freelance work done by self-employed individuals or when employees work after hours at home.

What does a transition to a telecommuting workforce mean for an organization and how will this change impact the employee?

Working from home leaves organizations with some trade-offs. In a recent survey conducted by YouGov in partnership with USA TODAY and LinkedIn, working from home was reported by 54% of professionals ages 18-74 to be a more productive experience, but 51% report increased loneliness during work (Schrotenboer, 2020). To identify these trade-offs in detail, below is a summary of Gajendran and Harrison’s review of “The Good, the Bad, and the Unknown of Telecommuting.” We found that with the right considerations, the shift to telecommuting can be a positive experience for both the organization and the employee.

What are the potential consequences of part and full-time telecommuting?

  • Telecommuting tends to increase job satisfaction and reduce turnover intentions.
  • Working from home can produce less role stress. (i.e. the stress from aspects of a particular role or between the different roles we assume) for employees.
  • Supervisors tend to rate telecommuters more favorably and have better relationships.
  • Telecommuting is associated with higher records of past performance data.
  • Perceived career prospects are unlikely to be adversely impacted by telecommuting.

How does telecommuting lead to these outcomes?

Three conceptual themes emerge as to what mechanisms lead to the consequences of telecommuting:

  1. Psychological control: The perceived autonomy to choose how/when work is performed.
  2. The work-family interface: The interaction of one’s work and family life domains where each area can either positively or negatively impact the other.
  3. Relationship impoverishment: The reduced face-to-face interactions and frequency and richness of communication that is possible.

Autonomy had the most support as an explanation for why telecommuters experience an increase of job satisfaction and supervisor favorability and reduction in turnover intent and role stress. In comparison, work-family conflict and relationship quality only had a modest association and mainly came into play for full-time telecommuters.

What are the differences in consequences between part-and full-time telecommuters?

  • Full-time telecommuters (those working 50% or more out of office) experience less work-family conflict but coworker relationships tend to be negatively impacted.
  • Full-time telecommuters experience less stress than part-timers.
  • Both part and full-time telecommuters have similar levels of autonomy which suggests that giving freedom to work from home can incur the benefits produced by increased autonomy.

Does gender or experience with telecommuting change the outcomes?

  • Female employees tend to experience a greater increase in performance ratings and perceived career prospects.
  • Employees who have more experience with telecommuting may experience greater benefits found with work-family conflict and role stress suggesting a learning curve associated with telecommuting.

What does all this mean for you as an organization and your employees?

  • Maximize the benefits: If your workers are telecommuting, maximize its benefits by allowing telecommuters to spend the majority of their time working remotely. Working 3 or more days from home allows employees to get settled into a balanced routine.
  • Be aware of decreased coworker relationships: As employees increase their time working remotely, management should be aware and work to strengthen and encourage good coworker relationship.
  • Find ways to monitor without removing autonomy: Use trust-based strategies, such as a written agreement, rather than electronic monitoring techniques which can reduce perceived autonomy.
  • Allow employees time to gain experience telecommuting: As with any learning curve, it takes time to see results. When switching employees to a telecommuting schedule, allow them time to adjust and acclimate to the new working conditions.

Article by Juliette Lloyd, Brooke Ackerman & Brandon Jordan

Turning Economic Downturn into Organizational Prosperity

Five Organizational Development Priorities

“We had to stop that initiative (or insert other adverse outcome) due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

-Most Worldwide Corporations

You may have heard something similar in your organization, from your colleagues in other organizations or from your family and friends in the past couple of months. In times of an economic downturn, companies that prioritize future growth and organizational development through its people and create robust programs can resurface from the recession healthier than before. It can help them be a capable business for the future.

As easy as that sounds, the challenge for organizational leaders and HR is navigating the tightrope between financial stability, savings, and building while also maintaining a highly-skilled workforce. Over the years, there has been a wave of change to where HR professionals now have more of a strategic organizational development mindset. When human resource leadership is able to establish a more strategic platform, they are able to effect change more effectively because the impact of the change efforts will be felt not only on the ‘soft side of change’ but also on the hard aspects  (revenue, client satisfaction, product innovation) of the organizational change efforts.

Granted that change management processes will be different for organizations during an economic slump, change is change, and the ways of dealing with change are no different during a recession than at any other time. During times of a downturn, the most obvious reaction for most organizations is to focus on the financial aspect of the business, such as cost reductions. However, that tunnel vision may not always provide the best long-term results. Building an organizational development strategy during a shrinking economy sets the organization up to flourish when the cycle is reversed. In other words, even if you have little in terms of organizational development strategies in place, now is the time to start thinking about them. Strengthening your organization doesn’t just involve financial management for today. Tomorrow’s outcomes will be a result of the decisions made today. There is even evidence of this through ratings in Glassdoor. They found that companies on their “Best Places to Work” list outperformed the S&P 500 by 7.4% between 2009 and 2019. So, what decision will you be making to strengthen your organization for the future?

People Strategies for Organizational Development

A business that is looking to strengthen itself during and after a recession should be focusing on its workforce and culture. Workforce is the lifeblood of any organization and should be nourished from the beginning. The right employees, within the right culture can invent new business ideas that will lead to unheard of success. Ever wondered how the post-it note came about? It was from Art Fry, a 3M employee who came up with the invention. By being allowed to work on inventive ideas as part of the company culture, he designed a product that is a staple on any desk today.

Post it note on a board listing out traits at the center of organizational development.
Without Art Fry being allowed to innovate on his own time, we’d all forget a lot of meetings..

Modern employee selection methods can be traced back to World War I in 1917, when the US entered the conflict by declaring war on Germany. Psychologists partnered with the US Starting today, as a first step, evaluate how you recruit, train, and retain your employees. Do you have best practices you adopt for your selection strategy selection strategy? That is, processes such as structured interviews, personality or ability assessments. If you have these best practices, are they aligned to your organization’s overall strategy and talent needs? If you don’t have these best practices, start with identifying your strategy and talent needs. These will help inform the practices that are best suited for your organization. Talent powers the organization’s growth both during and after an economic downturn. Developing and retaining performing employees is essential for any business strategy, especially during an economic downturn. For several organizations, resupplying talent will be key. It is easy as the economy makes quick strides forward to act hastily and just refill positions quickly. A careful selection strategy with accurate tools and processes can strengthen your workforce and reinforce company culture.

To retain your employees, think of what your company culture is like right now. Is it a place where employees can thrive? The company culture is important and closely linked to the employee experience. Examine whether your company culture is congruent with your values. Do employees embody and display the behavioral traits and characteristics associated with the values of your organization? If they do not, is there something in the environment/culture preventing them from doing so? These are questions that you should ask and that can be answered by a well-constructed employee pulse or engagement survey. If you have never done an engagement survey, now would be a good time to consider doing one and implement it to be administered periodically throughout the year. There have been many changes to how work is getting done for many organizations, especially through virtual working, and by taking the pulse of your organization, you can find ways through organizational development to make important improvements to drive employee engagement.

Improving Leadership Capability

Good leadership is at the center of organizational development.
“Do as I say, not as I do” is not the motto of great leadership..

If you take some time to do some quick research on what you can do right now at your organization to ease the unpredictability that comes with a recession, you will see an overwhelming number of articles focused on leadership. Why do you think that is? Because without good leadership to steer the boat, the organization may crash. Especially when a global pandemic hits and leaders can be distracted by just keeping the boat afloat. However, research from the Center for Creative Leadership shows that one of the biggest areas for budget cuts historically is training and development. Such cuts may realize short-term savings but minimizing leadership development may have negative long-term effects for an organization.

One of the most effective organizational development strategies to implement when the business is struggling that would also yield benefits in times of prosperity is to improve the leadership capability of the organization. Without capable leadership, talent, and organizational development interventions or strategies can struggle. Research consistently shows that about two-thirds of all change initiatives fail to deliver the intended outcomes. These failures are often a result of poor implementation and lack of executive commitment, rather than faulty thinking.

HR can only do so much when it comes to the implementation of strategies. They can facilitate the process, but the bulk of it has to be done by the leaders of the employees being impacted. If they are not capable enough, the change effort almost always fails. The importance of improving leadership capability in an organization cannot be understated. The success of other change initiatives hinges on leadership. Perception seems to be everything when it comes to change initiatives. If the words and actions of the immediate leader or manager are perceived to be in support of the intervention, then there is a much greater chance that the intervention will be successful.

If you don’t know where to start with improving leadership capability in your organization, start with focusing on the skills and competencies critical to organizational success as well as the success of the individual leaders. In a report published by the Center for Creative Leadership in 2020, the top 3 skills organizations address with leadership development are ones that improve individual leadership skills and make more effective managers and leaders. These skills are: effective communication, leading and managing teams, and decision making. Another half of respondents reported other skills they advance through leadership development activities: strategic thinking, planning, and execution, leading and managing change, coaching and developing others, managing risk and complexity, and creating a culture of innovation. Determine which competencies are most important for your leadership team, assess those competencies, and create a leadership development program to increase the capability of your leaders around these skills.

Employee Wellness Strategies

There’s no better time to focus on the wellbeing of your employees than during a worldwide pandemic. There’s more to an employee than just their jobs. An employee is a well-rounded individual with family, hobbies, emergencies, health issues etc. The better you can help them navigate their personal and professional life, the better you can show them how much they are valued. Valued employees tend to go the extra mile for the organization. Think of the employee like your customer. You have a responsibility to create an experience for your employees that is similar to that of your customers. Your employees will feel like an indispensable part of the system.

Employee wellness is one consideration in organizational development.
Employee wellness can come in the form of mental, physical, and/or social wellness programs.

According to the Wellness Council of America, successful organizational development wellness initiatives help employees fulfill their needs in the following areas: health, meaning, safety, connection, achievement, growth, and resiliency. Pending the time that it’s safe to be around people again, some wellness strategies to implement include virtual wellness fairs, wellness challenges, and mindfulness meetings. Mindfulness can have positive benefits for anxiety and help employees remain more present. It involves teaching meditation techniques such as how to breathe deeply or have a clear head.

Social distancing doesn’t have to equal social isolation. Encourage your employees to interact with each other by encouraging social relationships such as virtual happy hour or team lunch. With employees having to work from home and some having to take on more responsibilities such as teaching their kids while at home, providing emotional and mental health support may also be beneficial.

To set your organization up for success even after the economic downturn, plan for the flourishing times by putting together other wellness programs such as on and off site fitness accessibility that will encourage physical activity, having healthy snacks in the office, in-office health screenings, and flexible work hours/ remote work. When it comes to employee wellness programs, even the simplest things such as a healthy meal plan promoting a nutritious diet can have positive benefits.

Innovative Organizational Development Strategies

Expense reduction, although a focal point during a period of struggle should not be the only focus. During this time, organizations can take a look at their business model and look for ways to innovate, which may sometimes save more expenses than expected. One such example of an organization that looked inward is IBM. Once, the king of computers started struggling as the market became more saturated with other competitors. IBM reinvented themselves and shifted the focus from computer production to IT and computing services. IBM was able to save in production costs by refocusing their workforce to provide services without having to resort to drastic cost-saving measures or large layoffs. As a business, take a cue from IBM and focus on reviewing your products and (or) services to where you can shift, adjust, and provide more value.

Communication Plan

Organizational Development can help with communications between departments.
What communication looked like (before Covid-19)

More than ever, people like to stay informed especially during an economic downturn. Use this period as an opportunity to increase the communication between upper leadership and employees. Timely, open, and honest communication is vital to preserving morale in tough times. Transparency is very effective because from an employee perspective, no news doesn’t necessarily mean good news. It’s important to develop and maintain communication channels with employees especially if employees are working remotely as is the case with many organizations due to COVID-19. Send out weekly newsletters and constantly share information with employees. Engage with them, not only via email but on other informal communication platforms such as slack, or other social media used in your organization. Be sure to keep the communication lines open.


Implementing the above organizational development interventions can really help set organizations up for present and future success. However, the reality is that recessions can be extremely difficult on the ecosystem of an organization and threaten its stability. In times of economic uncertainty and bleak profit margins, companies of all sizes undergo pressure to cut costs in order to keep business alive. One of the most common ways organizations cut costs is through workforce reduction. Although workforce reductions may be an effective way of saving costs, they do come with other hidden organizational expenses. The savings created through reducing your workforce can be visibly offset through COBRA plans, unemployment insurance taxes, severance costs, and even potential lawsuits. Other costs such as employee morale and engagement, trust in the organization are not so visible but may be more damaging than the visible costs. 

If all else fails and workforce reduction is inevitable, ensure that it is done correctly. The costs, implications, and potential downfalls are higher if executed incorrectly. Reduced productivity, increased future turnover, rising cases of inappropriate work behaviors are some of the unintended consequences of an improperly executed reduction to watch out for. Companies that reduce their workforce lose the time that was invested in training their workforce. A Harvard Business Review study in 2018 showed that organizations that downsize their workforce by 1% see a 31% increase in voluntary turn over the next year. This spike in voluntary turn over could cripple a company during the economic recovery.

One way to avoid the unintended consequences of a workforce reduction while setting the organization up for economic stability and prosperity is to apply a competency modeling framework. When things get better and you are no longer in survival mode, you want to be sure that you have the talent and processes in place to ensure continued success in the future.  When considering a workforce reduction, companies can structure themselves towards the future through competency modeling and use it as a framework to divest skillsets that will not be necessary for the future.

Article by Alex Gould, Ore Osikoya, & Brandon Jordan

Closing the Scientist-Practitioner Gap: 10 Reasons to Consider Personality Tests for your Selection Strategy

Tett, R. P., & Christiansen, N. D. (2007). Personality tests at the crossroads: A response to Morgeson, Campion, Dipboye, Hollenbeck, Murphy, and Schmitt (2007)
Personnel Psychology
Vol 60, pp 967–993.

At a 2004 Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP) panel discussion, Morgeson et al., (2007) discuss the broad topic of personality tests and their acclaimed value in predicting job outcomes for selection purposes in organizations. The result of the panel discussion was a paper published in 2007 where they essentially concluded 2 things:

  1. Personality tests lack sufficient validity to warrant using them for selection purposes
  2. Applicant faking in personality tests doesn’t affect the validity of the test and may even be desirable in some situations.

If you have used personality tests or thinking of using them for selection purposes at your organization, your heart probably skipped a beat as you read the conclusions above. Not to worry, this is where the current research paper comes in. Tett and Christiansen (2007) carefully review the claims made by Morgeson et al. and concluded that there is evidence to support personality tests as valid predictors of job performance; thereby making them useful for selection purposes. Now you can breathe fine again. To arrive at their conclusions, they review each of Morgeson et al.’s claims and analyze it with meta-analytic evidence. (A meta-analysis is an examination of data from independent studies on a chosen topic in order to determine overall trends). Below is a summary of Tett and Christiansen’s conclusions.

Terms to Know

Validity: This is a test’s ability to measure what it is supposed to measure. Validity coefficient is the statistical index used to report evidence of validity for interpreting test scores. It also shows the magnitude of the correlation between a predictor (personality test) and an outcome (job performance).

Faking: The practice of skewing answers in an assessment to create a favorable (or otherwise) impression.

Conclusions on Personality Test Usage

Conclusion 1: The strength of personality test validity is increased when certain conditions are considered. Rather than dismiss personality tests as invalid predictors of job performance, more attention should be given to conditions where strong vs. weak or positive vs. negative linkages can be found between the personality traits and job performance. For example, the stronger the personality trait conscientiousness is, the better the outcome may be for a particular job type.

Conclusion 2: Personality test validity is stronger when confirmatory strategies are used to identify job-relevant traits. To explain what that means: When trying to identify which personality traits linked to performance in a given job, one may adopt an exploratory strategy where all the scales are administered to see which ones take hold; or a confirmatory strategy, where the job and the personality traits most related to it are assessed up front. For predicting job performance, confirmatory validity yields better results. An exploratory method yields validity coefficients not related to the job and detracts away from how well the personality test can be used to predict.

Conclusion 3: Personality-oriented job analysis (POJA) yields stronger validity for personality tests. Be sure to perform job analysis if you are thinking of using a personality assessment.

Conclusion 4: There is more predictive power at the sub-scale level of a personality trait than at the broad level. For example, the broad trait of conscientiousness has sub-scales such as organized, detail oriented, and compliance. Evidence shows that the sub-scales have more power to predict job performance than the broad scaled of conscientiousness.

Conclusion 5: When scores are combined on multiple trait measures, they offer incremental validity due to regression analysis. This is a statistical process that uses the predictor (personality test) to explain the percentage of variance in an outcome (job performance). For example, job performance can be explained by multiple different factors such as personality, organizational factors, job type and other unknown factors. Regression analysis can show how much of the variance in job performance can be explained by personality tests. Assuming the variance in job performance is 100%, personality tests can explain 24% of the variance. In the psychology world, any predictor that can explain a statistically significant variability in a construct is useful.

Conclusion 6: Incremental validity is possible by considering how the different traits interact with each other to predict job outcomes. For example, exploring how conscientiousness interacts with agreeableness may help explain more job outcomes than just looking at either trait by itself.

Conclusion 7: Although applicant faking weakens personality test validity, enough trait variance remains to be useful for predicting job performance. Faking is a problem and doesn’t indicate social competence or job success.

Conclusion 8: If applicants are told what trait is being assessed, they tend to show overly desirable responses.

Conclusion 9: Administering items from the same scale as a set may create a bias and faking in the way applicants respond because the items are within the same context. Independent observations of the items are better for the validity of personality tests.

Conclusion 10: Contemporary personality tests have been shown to be psychometrically sound; no research suggests that personality test items are so ambiguous or confusing as to undermine validity.

In summary, commercial self-report personality tests are useful in selection scenarios for predicting job performance when the necessary conditions are considered. Keep in mind that faking weakens but does not destroy meaningful levels of personality test validity. Follow the tips below to gain incremental validity if you want to use personality tests in your organization:

  • Conduct a job analysis
  • Use confirmatory strategies to link personality traits to job requirements
  • Do not reveal what trait is being assessed to the applicants
  • Randomize the items when administering the test
  • Review results at the sub-scale level
  • Perform regression analysis
  • Review interactions between the different traits
  • Review the strength of the broad individual traits alone rather than the average of all the traits

All the best with your selection strategy!

Article by Ore Osikoya & Brandon Jordan