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Should You Use Employee Assessments for Temps and Seasonal Hiring?

October 12, 2017

When budgets are tight or demand is high, employers tend to turn toward temporary workforce options, and often they wonder if it’s worth testing temps and seasonal workers since they’re not committing to long-term employment.  

employee assessments tems seasonal employees.jpgThe answer to this question lies in the value of using employee assessments for selection purposes. A well-built employee assessment will predict success on the job, bring to light motivational fit issues, and give the candidate some idea of what might be expected on the job. Assessments also help organizations make automated decisions about which candidates to pursue and which candidates are unlikely to be a good match for a position, and they do so with minimal administration and zero waiting. I always bring up these points when asked, but I also like to learn more about our clients’ concerns around testing. Here are a few concerns that frequently come up and a few considerations to keep in mind as you make this important decision.

Q: Is it worth testing a temporary worker with whom you are making a short-term commitment?

A: I would argue that the answer is yes, particularly if they are working alongside your employees, and absolutely the answer is yes if they are going to be working solo or only with other temporary workers. Often these workers are on the front-line, interacting with your clients, building your goods and re-stocking your shelves. Their success is your success, and without some way to screen your new helpers you’re leaving your success completely to luck (or chance, a coin flip, whatever turn of phrase you prefer). Considering that you’re likely paying a premium for temporary help, either in terms of higher wages paid to seasonal help or an ongoing fee to a temporary agency, it makes economic sense to screen out risky hires.

Q: Will temporary and seasonal candidates put up with testing?

A: Many would think not, considering the selection process takes more time with testing, but our applicant reaction data is positive. We include several questions at the end of our assessments to get a sense for how applicants feel about testing. Answering the questions is voluntary and completely anonymous, and while we do find variance in responses, we largely see positive results. In this type of survey, we always ask a question along the lines of “Did this assessment give you a positive impression of this company’s desire to hire the best candidates?” Results are always positive (Agree to Strongly Agree). This is because a well-developed assessment will take into account the candidate experience and be ‘face valid’ (relevant to the position). In other words, candidates don’t mind testing when it's not cumbersome, monotonous, or awkward.

Q: Should we have the same standards for temporary/seasonal employees?

A: Sometimes clients think that by employing seasonal and temporary staff, they’re already lowering their standards as the preference is usually to hire employees. This is not true, and I strongly recommend not lowering or altering any existing selection benchmarks that you’re already using. Particularly if the job duties, performance expectations, and work environment do not differ, you shouldn’t make it easier for people to work for you. By maintaining the same standards and testing across the board you also make it easier on your company to hire temporary or seasonal staff if the opportunity arises.

There are many good job candidates who turn to seasonal and temporary work for a variety of reasons, and it is definitely worth it to apply the same screening protocol that you use to select new employees. By doing so, you safeguard the reputation and culture you’ve worked so hard to build while also increasing the likelihood of selecting workers that will meet your expectations in the short (and perhaps even long) term.

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Amber Thomas Amber Thomas is a Consultant at PSI. In her role, Amber provides custom solutions to a variety of industries. Her contributions include project oversight, day-to-day client support, and on-going consultation.