Insights

A selection of reference and thought leadership pieces

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Will seniors redefine work?

The average age of the U.S. population is rising. What do the shifting demographics mean for business and government? Are there new products, technologies and services that could change the way we age? And could seniors redefine the way we work?

 

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Alternative Workplace Strategies Report

What we once called “alternative”, we now have come to call current and future workplace strategies.

Advanced Workplace Associates (AWA), Global Workplace Analytics, and Haworth Inc., and supported by Workplace Evolutionaries, have conducted the fifth biennial global workplace study. The report has pulled together data from over 130 organisations, meaning what we have found represents over 2.3 million global employees. The results were compared to longitudinal data collected across the four surveys fielded since 2008.

The 2018 survey revealed significant changes in how and where people work.
Significant insights we’ve gained include:

    • The worry over a loss in productivity when people are able to work anywhere is entirely unfounded.
    • People impacts, rather than cost savings, are now the primary measure of success.
    • Internal mobility has more than doubled since 2008; External mobility (working at home, coworking places, outside the office) has remained flat
    • Nearly half of employees are still permanently assigned to one space; no change since 2008
  • Employee involvement in the planning, implementation, and evaluation of workplace change programs has decreased significantly
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Turning the Corner on Smarter Recruitment and Hiring Practices with Brainwahve

Summary

Standard recruiting, interviewing and hiring practices leave much to be desired in their efficacy of finding and retaining the best talent for employers. New hiring practices like blind auditions and job skills assessments that employ Artificial Intelligence (AI) and gamification, as well as innovative work environment practices that transcend geographic and temporal limitations, promise to help companies recruit and hire the best talent for the positions they seek to fill.

In addition to Work At Home Vintage Experts (WAHVE) being an innovative contract staffing firm that connects retiring insurance and accounting professionals working from home with companies looking for vintage experts, WAHVE has developed Brainwahve, software that provides a candidate application and qualification process with granular skill set tables, quality controlled resume creation, skills assessments, behavioral interviews and reference checks; and a comprehensive job request qualification process with granular skill set tables, job description vetting, and managerial interviews.  Brainwahve’s Qualifying Solutions’ vision is to evolve beyond outdated, subjective interviewing and hiring processes and provide companies with a tool to hire more diverse and best-matched skill in the workforce.  Such blind qualifying with objective skills assessments, which combines cutting edge behavioral psychology and decision science, enables companies to more effectively identify the talent they need and not be biased by human judgment. Let’s start with reviewing where, as recruiters and hirers we’ve been, and then explore where, with the aid of groundbreaking technological tools, we’re heading in the future of better recruitment and hiring.

Part I: Hiring, A History

 Ineffectual Metrics

Hiring has historically struggled with, as Derek Thompson for The Atlantic puts it, “identifying the metrics that actually predict employee success, rather than relying on the most available pieces of information.” In his piece on smarter hiring, Thompson describes the core challenge of effective hiring in corporate America— “hiring is expensive, time-consuming, and inherently uncertain, because the hirer doesn’t know what workers are the right fit, and the worker doesn’t know what hirers are the right fit.” Ineffective hiring is indeed costly—its primary symptoms, employee turnover and lack of engagement, cost companies, according to study published in Forbes, more than “30% of an annual salary to replace an entry-level employee – and even more for higher level positions” and according to Gallup, “$450 billion to $550 billion annually in lost productivity due to absenteeism, accidents and more.”

Both high turnover and lack of engagement is expensive. This threat to the bottom line leaves companies in the revolving door of attempting to find and keep talented, engaged employees. Add in the additional costs of time and resources spent locating, hiring and training new employees and the motivation for better hiring practices becomes a financial imperative. Employers need more sophisticated tools, practices and approaches to hiring and retaining the right talent.

Diversity, or lack thereof

Turnover and lack of engagement aren’t the only costly symptoms of hiring’s challenges—lack of diversity is one of corporate America’s most morally indicting and financially costly hurdles. The numbers are solid on this, with countless studies showing, including an impressive study recently reported in the Financial Times, of 350 large public companies by McKinsey consultants, which found that companies “in the top quartile for gender diversity were 15 per cent more likely to produce better returns than their local peers” and those “in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity were even more likely to do better.” The results also held for companies at the bottom of the scale, with less diverse companies being less likely to do well. And believe it or not, diversity ties right back into retention, with the same McKinsey study finding that “top performers prefer to work in more diverse companies.”

Location, location, location

A third hurdle that traditional hiring struggles to negotiate is the remote working landscape. Mounting regional inequality, where business footprint and growth is becoming increasingly isolated in select metropolitan locations in the country, heightens this strain on recruiters to find available talent, because generally hiring practices give preference to geographic proximity and in-person, CV-driven interviewing and hiring. The fact is, much off the rationale behind the in-person, in-office expectation and constraint is made obsolete by technological advances like VPN which afford employees work systems that are accessible and secure from nearly any computer, and allows for flexibility of location and time, which are generally considered perks sought by top talent.

It’s not just the top talent that’s on the look-out for remote work though—there’s no question that the trend and demand for remote working is going to continue. Gallup reports that from 2012 to 2016, the number of employees working remotely 40 or more percent of their working hours increased 7 percentage points, from 24 to 31 percent, and the overall percentage of employees working remotely in any capacity also increased over the same period, from 39 to 43 percent. Other findings reported by Gallup also indicate that remote working can boost both employee engagement and performance, thanks to increased autonomy and flexibility, as well as an environment that’s more hospitable to working efficiently with minimal interruption. Opening ourselves to options for retention like flexible hours, or contract-based hiring, in addition to remote work environments increases the talent pool and thus potential for finding your best talent. Standard hiring practices radically curtail the scope for identifying and retaining the most qualified candidate based on conventional metrics like resume and locality, and in doing so it stunts companies’ potential to grow and thrive.

A problem, a Solution

We’ve examined traditional recruiting and hiring practices and how in a number of significant areas they repeatedly come up short. Understanding the biggest gaps in existing practices highlights where we need to be as recruiters and employers of vibrant and growing companies: getting the best people in the right positions, engaging employees and incentivizing their retention, and leveraging a diversity of backgrounds and mindsets amongst employees. What we require to bridge the gap are adequate tools to identify the optimal candidate with metrics that are independent of biased, subjective preferences for criteria like appearance, location, or persona.

This is hiring’s history. Now let’s consider its future.

Part II: A Future—Out with the Bias and In with the Games

Going in Blind

Blind auditioning first got a name for itself back in the fifties, when the Boston Symphony Orchestra pioneered the practice as a means of finding the best talent based on ability, not appearance. It was put forth in an effort to challenge the influence of any prejudicing implicit bias when evaluating a musician’s skills, and indeed it successfully improved the number of women and minorities hired. It started a conversation about how subjectivity and bias in our hiring process clouds judgement when we assess talent, potential, and fit in a job candidate. In the past few decades, the prevalence of blind auditioning has been in the picture but in the recruiting world it hadn’t gained much momentum, until recently.

Studies like those by Harvard and Princeton in the late nineties found that a switch to blind auditions over the past 30 years had accounted for “between 30% and 55% of the increase in the proportion females among new hires and between 25% and 46% of the increase in the percentage female” in the world of professional orchestras. A recent study by GapJumpers, which helps clients create blind job screenings, found that while one-fifth of applicants for GapJumpers’s 1,400 clients like Bloomberg and Dolby who were non-white males from elite schools made it to a first interview, with blind auditions the number increased to 60 percent. And this isn’t about simply identifying minorities for these positions—it’s about removing biases that deter recruiters from being able to accurately predict skills qualification and performance. This is where the world of software, AI and gamification come in.

Software such as Brainwahve, allows candidates to qualify blind, and the value of this is obviously significant. By providing recruiters and hiring managers a candidate application and qualification process that thoroughly vets a and assesses skills this qualification process and a job description skills qualifying process, software like Brainwahve makes optimal the best talent identification for the specific job a reality. It also generates a standardized PDF resume for each candidate with a consistent formatting, as well as integrating with skills assessment software to allow a hiring team to view candidates’ scores and ranking, and thus evaluate applicants more objectively and efficiently.

More than Fun and Games

The demand for objective, accurate tools that allow recruiters and hiring managers to assess skills free of bias, has led to an explosion not only of software like Brainwahve, but also gamified, interactive assessments that leverage AI and virtual reality (VR). Startups like Applied and Pymetrics, founded by Kate Glazebrook and Frida Polli, respectively, are behavioral design tools that gamify neuroscience and AI, using algorithms and the psychology of decision making “to help companies understand what cognitive and emotional traits predict success in different roles, and help them match people to those roles.” As Applied’s founder explains, the tool works by anonymizing applications, grouping them up into comparative batches that allow for better assessment, and randomizing the candidates to avoid ordering effects, allowing multiple evaluators to contribute their scores independently which then get combined for a comprehensive evaluation.

When Glazebrook put Applied against the standard “resume sifting process” by running candidates through her tool’s assessment and then putting them into in-person interviews, she found that the candidates that scored high on her tool’s assessment also knocked their in-person interviews out of the park and proved their qualifications for the position. As she says, “there was a positive, statistically significant correlation between how candidates performed in the Applied sift and their scores in the assessment center and the final interview.” What’s the value in this? Might these people have gotten through to interviews based on the presentation of a resume and their appearance? Her study’s findings say no. The study found no correlation between a curriculum vitae (CV) score and performance in those interview rounds, underscoring the fact that having an impressive CV is not an accurate predictor of being most qualified for a job. Platforms that deploy AI and VR allow candidates to engage in real-times skills assessment and prove their capabilities beyond the appearance of a resume.

The final piece of the puzzle is understanding how crucial these tools are for identifying and retaining top talent. The results of Glazebrook’s study’s comparison of the Applied Score to the CV Score are astounding. Based on the statistical comparison, Glazebrook writes: “We would never have hired (or even met!) a whopping 60 percent of the candidates we offered jobs to if we’d relied on their CVs alone.” While recruiters would historically eliminate these candidates based solely on their CV score, their Applied scores were great and brought them back into the running. Software and programs like Brainwahve and Applied are critical tools in the arsenal of hiring’s future, providing metrics that removes implicit bias and enable candidates and hiring managers alike to identify and qualify knowledge, work attributes and  skill sets to determine potential best fits. Used as a candidate screener, gamification in skills assessment in particular is an engaging and interesting way to assess critical skill sets and cognitive ability, the value of which a Forbes piece on 2018 Human Resources trends cogently describes: “Candidates have a fun reason to try to increase their scores while showing off to potential employers; Hiring managers have an ocean of data that can help predict the strengths and weaknesses of candidates — and even find diamonds in the rough.”

While some companies have the finances to design and implement their own objective, blind qualification process, interactive skills assessments and gaming assessments as part of the hiring process, many do not have those means and will instead look to developed software like Brainwahve that offers employers tangible, unbiased candidate insight.

Conclusion: Where Do We Go from Here?

As technology continues to advance, so does our potential to leverage these tools to become better informed, effective people and professionals. Sometimes this entails seriously overhauling our existing practices, and what better place to begin than in the realm of recruiting, hiring, and retaining talent, where companies struggle for accurate tools to find their best candidates. Software like Brainwahve is part of an exciting, cutting edge moment in the history of working America, where the ability to find a job and find the right talent hinges not on appearance but on merit and ability. It may feel risky to amend conventional recruitment and hiring practices by leveraging technology rather than the human interaction-based model, but be reassured that science backs this evolution, demonstrating that adopting better tools for interviewing and hiring is a boon to business—it’s going to improve employee engagement, diversity, retention, and ultimately companies’ growth and success. As makers of Brainwahve we’re proud to be part of a movement toward smarter hiring practices and better business outcomes. The future of better hiring and employing is before us—let’s embrace it boldly. – By Sharon Emek, CEO

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