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Northampton, MA 01060


3Nov. 2014

Hire Your Way to a Safer Workplace

Among our greatest challenges as business owners is to hire the right people. It bothers me when I invest in a new employee only to have them leave after a short tenure. But hiring the wrong person and having to let them go feels worse.

Our hiring decisions affect our company culture, productivity and reputation. Wrong decisions can damage all three aspects of our business and are costly. Costs are that much greater when the employee gets injured or endangers co-workers.

When I review workers compensation losses and look through the injuries, I often see employees who have been on the job less than six months. You can have a top notch safety program and the safest equipment that money can buy, but your safety record depends more on the type of employees you hire than your practices and equipment.

Here are several strategies, tactics and resources you can use to improve your chances of hiring safety-conscious workers:

1. Gather several sources of information (like those below) on your candidate. The interview you have should be just one input of many to your hiring decision. Interviews are subjective. They are good to see if you like the candidate personally, but you need objective information to assess a candidate’s fitness for the job.

2. Get extensive references. It’s important to hear from people who worked with the candidate in the past. Michael Klein, a Business Psychologist who has helped me with hiring tests in the past, advises “The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.”

3. Ask for a copy of the candidate’s motor vehicle report. Even if the candidate will not be a driver for your company, speeding and driving infractions can indicate character and give clues about how they conduct themselves.

4. Administer an appropriate test. The right testing tools can help assess a candidate’s personality fit, approach to learning, propensity to follow rules, and level of ambition among other traits. Though it might seem like a substantial investment, making the wrong decision could cost you much more money as well as sap your time and energy.

5. Choose the test wisely.

a. Success indicators for management differ from those for a sales position, so you may need to tap different tests for different positions.

b. Beware of extreme claims from test makers. The pre-employment testing market is not regulated, and like any unregulated market it has its share of better and lesser suppliers. Michael Klein says “Avoid assessments that indicate a “hire/no hire” result. None of these tests are perfect, and any claims that are results are 100% predictive are blatantly false.”

c. Remember that the test is one of those many inputs and not the sole deciding factor.

6. Standardize your hiring procedure. Adhere to Massachusetts employment laws and follow your procedure consistently. Making exceptions or changes to your procedure based on gender, nationality or other factors can land you in trouble, even if your intentions were good.

In addition to working with Michael Klein at MKInsights, I have also found the Employers Association of the NorthEast to be a terrific resource for hiring, training and other employment information. The Omnia Group is another testing source we have used for years that is reliable and relatively inexpensive.

Selecting your employees wisely is key to keeping your work place safe and your workers compensation costs low.

Please call or email me if you have any questions or would like more information.


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