Dr. Jason Taylor Ph.D., group vice president of development and chief HCM scientist at Infor, looks at the role of behavioural science in extending the employee lifecycle.
According to research approximately 40 percent of new employees leave their respective companies within just a year, typically because they did not live up to expectations, or the job was not what they thought it was. The net result of these high levels of staff churn is that it soon becomes very expensive and resource-intensive. With this in mind organisations are turning their attentions to lengthening the employee lifecycle. While improved job satisfaction is often synonymous with extended employee lifecycles, achieving this involves a co-ordinated strategy focused on the provision of growth opportunities, personal development and upward mobility.
Behavioural science provides a method to bridge the gap between the employee’s and the organisation’s needs. A short definition of behavioural science is the compilation of on-the-job core behaviours for a specific position which are then used to recruit, select, onboard, and develop hires in those target positions. Through behavioural science, job seekers are able to capitalize on career development and increased job satisfaction by scientifically being matched to the right job and being developed to their full potential. When behavioural science is aligned with the employee life cycle, it supports an employee experience to maximise satisfaction and growth.
The seeds of success are planted at the beginning of the employee life cycle. Achieving a good fit for a role is the first key to the puzzle. Some organisations focus only on “fit” in terms of skills or CV keywords, but those facts only tell a small part of the story. They do not provide deep insight into longevity, culture fit, or productivity potential. The secret ingredient is behavioural fit, which captures the things managers can’t see on paper. Through the latest technology, organisations are able to compare an individual’s behavioural preferences to a behavioural benchmark. The individual’s behavioural preferences are based on actual performance data, and the behavioural benchmark is based on skills statistically proven to represent success on the job. Statistically, the closer the match to the behavioural pattern, the higher probability a person has to achieving success based on actual performance related to the job.
This process can be scaled to the employer’s needs and ensure that all levels of positions are filled with top-quality hires, while maximising the employee’s contribution and satisfaction in the organisation. Finding the best fit can pay off in financial savings and earnings. For example, a well-known restaurant chain deployed a behavioural science solution to select?new employees using a behavioural benchmark built on successful incumbents. After tracking more than 2,200 waiting staff and the tips they received, new hires that were named “best fit” by the behavioural science tool surpassed the established tip goal 43.6% more often than candidates that were hired despite being deemed a “poor fit” by the behavioural tool. In this case, better fit to the job directly improved job satisfaction and performance, even to the extent of the top waiting staff receiving higher tips from restaurant patrons.
Because employee behavioural preferences have already been captured in the selection process, the organisation?is able to leverage that important data throughout the employee life cycle, beginning with the onboarding process. Once the employee is matched to a position based on best fit, valuable information is available to the manager or management team. This includes preferred learning style, communication style, and other unique insights that support strong communication. This way, relationships are built?from the ground up with a solid foundation. It is important to recognise that the first 90 days are crucial to success in?the employee life cycle. In fact, in many organisations, the highest levels of attrition are linked back to the first 90?days. In a recent study of 44,482 associates, more than 45% of terms occurred in the first 90 days. By leveraging behavioural science, managers and employees are able to better understand and communicate with each other.
As the employee settles in to the new role, a deeper level of coaching and development can be leveraged through behavioural science. The objective is to ensure that the employee has a continuous, high quality experience. Behavioural science provides the behavioural information while the technology provides custom employee coaching material to both the coach and the employee. The sophistication of the system provides specific guidance—to executives and field managers, on topics related to the employee being coached. The content is designed to specifically help each individual discover, address, and leverage their strengths while compensating for areas that provide challenges. Practically, the system can identify a behavioural gap, such as low attention to detail, and provide suggestions and coaching tips on how to improve the employee’s ability to compensate for that gap through exercises and tasks designed for that purpose.
Coaching and development activities are designed to improve performance and satisfaction based on actual performance. The behavioural pattern used during the selection process is a behavioural model based on actual performance data, and can be leveraged for training programmes. Behavioural science allows customised plans to be quickly developed for each individual regardless of their stage in the employee life cycle. Once behavioural patterns are created for positions across the organisation, that knowledge base can be leveraged in forecasting an employee’s future roles. For example, a line worker may be interested in moving into management. The organisation has the ability to search each management position to find the best fit for the line worker. Then, through technology, the organisation is able to provide a coaching and development plan to grow that line worker in preparation for a future transition into management.
In today’s employment market, employees are looking?for future growth opportunities within the organisation from day one. The behavioural information that indicates promotability has already been captured during the selection process, so now the organisation can begin to analyse and grow future leaders. This creates a unique advantage whereby the organisation can improve retention while internally developing future leaders to promote from within the organisation. From the employees’ perspective, an organisation that is proactively searching for the future best fit leaders presents a very desirable work situation. Under best fit guidelines, future roles would consider the employee’s strengths and talents that would best be utilised allowing for maximum success and growth.
Behavioural science provides a much needed, scalable way for organisations to select the right talent to fit the job. This provides immediate return on investment by increasing satisfaction and productivity on the job. During the next phase of the employee lifecycle, organisations are able to use the data collected during the selection process to properly onboard the employee. This allows for a smooth transition and reduces early turnover for each position. ?As the employee settles into the job, behavioural science provides individual coaching and development for each employee based specifically on each position’s benchmark for success. Over time, the natural cycle of the employee will bring them toward seeking a promotion or new opportunity within the organisation. Behavioural science provides the organisation with a proactive plan to analyse gaps in talent and the content to develop employees for future roles.