Can Assessments Measure Work Ethic?

Can You Assess Applicant Work Ethic?

Wouldn’t it be great if you could just have your applicants take an assessment to tell you whether they have a good work ethic? Not to discourage you from reading the rest of this, but there is no magic assessment or test that will tell you this. That may or may not surprise you, depending upon how familiar you may be with employment assessments.

The reason for this is that there is no standard definition (psychometrically or otherwise) for work ethic. What I mean is that the notion of work ethic may be very fluid from one organization to another — even from one position to another. Below are some examples of what various traits/characteristics may contribute to work ethic:

  • Arriving on time?
  • Staying late?
  • Meets or exceeds goals?
  • Takes on extra projects?
  • Requires very little oversight or supervision?

Now, let’s take that same list and tie some potential traits to the items on it:

  • Punctuality/attendance — but what if they don’t do much once they get to the office or job site?
  • Persistence/stamina — but what if the reason they stay late is that they don’t work very efficiently or waste time talking to coworkers when they should be working?
  • Driven/focused — but what if the goals set for their position are too easily obtained or they’re overqualified for their role?
  • Energy/organized — but what if they merely start many projects and don’t always finish them?
  • Conscientious/self-motivated — but what if they aren’t as productive as they could be when the boss isn’t around to check up on them?

The point to all of this is that work ethic isn’t any single “thing.” Instead, it’s a combination of these items listed above, along with other behavioral traits.

But You Still Need To Find Hard Workers

Does this mean you can’t find a good way to hire people who will work like your current top performers? Not at all. You’re just going to do it a little differently.

You’ll still want to utilize a reliable and well-validated assessment tool. Once you’ve selected your provider of choice, you may then assess your current top performers (and maybe some of your poorer performers). Doing so will allow you to look for common results in the assessment for those top performers (or poorer performers). In effect, you’re creating a “template” of what a top or bottom performer looks like.

At the same time, you’ve now used the assessment tool to define the overall concept of work ethic for your organization or for that class of jobs within your organization. Don’t be dismayed by the fact assessments fail to measure a scale called “work ethic.” Instead, select a good partner to help you work through this benchmarking process to better understand and define what all contributes to work ethic for your best employees.

ExactHire provides a variety of cognitive, behavioral and job skill assessments. For more information about our solutions, please visit our employee assessment features page or contact us today.

Image credit: Construction Worker Houston Texas 1 by billjacobus1 (contact)

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