Optimising workforce capability with next-generation employee assessment platforms

Optimising workforce capability with next-generation employee assessment platforms

Lack of capability, perpetually low unemployment, and high turnover are constant challenges for employers in the Thailand market. Attracting, developing and retaining talented employees will continue to be a huge challenge for years to come, meaning that old school approaches requiring employees from within the organisation to take their time and learn on the job until they become competent are becoming less viable. Fortunately, Web 2.0 capabilities have blossomed and new types of learning and assessment platforms have begun to proliferate in the past few years, enabling competency assessment to become a much more potent tool for executives and HR leaders.

Market Factors Require New Competency Assessment & Development Methods

The new digital economy and other factors are requiring organisations to constantly acquire and build new capabilities, like online marketing, and big data analysis.  At the same time Thailand's demographics are creating a more challenging labour market.  In five years there will be about 10% fewer 20 year-olds entering the workforce. This means that skilled professionals are leaving the workforce faster than they are entering it and even basic skills, like sales competency, are increasing in demand.  Additionally, unemployment is consistently low in Thailand giving employees the advantage in the labour market.  As new positions open, the only way to fill them is to entice a high performer to leave their existing job, often for significantly more money.  This makes it very difficult to hold onto existing skilled employees unless you can guarantee them a structured and fair process by which they can increase their wages internally within the company.  Therefore, companies in Thailand are in a position where they need to secure all the talent with any potential as quickly as possible, and hope they can hold onto them and invest in them long enough to receive appropriate ROI.  Creating an internal talent market resistant to turnover is becoming increasingly important, which means accurate assessment of capabilities becomes more important than ever.

Several Technology Trends Make Competency Assessment Easier Than Ever

The prevalence of higher internet bandwidth and 4G access even in rural areas makes online delivery of assessments easier than ever.  Additionally, cheater detection advances, like secure browser limiting a test-takers ability to navigate away from the screen and algorithms that use webcams to track faces and eye movements, can now capture 95% of all cheating instances, thus dramatically increasing confidence in results.  It is also now relatively simple and cost effective to create an online real person proctored environment to support the taking of an assessment and to ensure accurate results.  Finally, mining of increasingly available performance data coupled with assessment results now enables organisations to create predictive models for who will be their high performers, so improving the utility of assessment results.

Improvements in Technology Have Led to Better Cloud-Based Platforms

Instead of focusing on one specific job domain or general skill category, platforms now exist which offer a wide variety and difficulty level of assessments, from sales capability, to software coding, to hospitality and people-management skills. Organisations can now pick through and tailor these standardised proven assessments to ensure fit for their specific jobs and capability needs.  This increased prevalence and volume of assessments has also enabled providers to drive down the costs of assessments.  When in the past a comprehensive personality, intelligence and capability assessment on an employee or candidate could cost hundreds of US dollars, it now can be done in some cases for under US$20 and even as low as US$5 per functional capability assessed. Because standardised assessments are now low-cost and prevalent enough, they can easily be translated and delivered in Thai language.

Sample Solution to Consider

A retail chain with 50-100 frontline employees may decide to take advantage of these emerging trends to optimise their workforce.  Through interviews with managers, identification of their top performers and analysis of their strategy and existing data, they may determine 10 capabilities that are highly important to their organisations (for example: face-to-face customer sales, online marketing, customer insights, and in-depth product knowledge).  They select a series of off-the-shelf assessments for each of these capabilities as well as several general psychometric tests (e.g. personality, intelligence, learning agility, etc.) and provide this battery to their existing employees.  Through the magic of big data analysis, they are then able to create a model which can predict if an employee will be a high performer and an estimated return on investment to the organisation for improving their capability. 

The model can then be used to better select employees for hiring, promotion and compensation increases.  Promotion and compensation can then be based on an employee's ability to pass a standardised set of “certifications”, thus creating an environment where employees are rewarded for learning and can see a guaranteed fair pathway to improve their compensation.  After this baseline is established, organisations can understand the capabilities with the highest strategic value and ROI and begin planning methods to buy or build this talent.

Conclusion

In such a tight talent market, where availability of skilled employees is dropping, organisations in Thailand will be forced to try to do more with a generally less skilled talent pool. Understanding exactly which capabilities drive success and making more strategic decisions around buying and developing talent with this potential will be critical to success in the coming years.


Authors: Justin Paul and Ronald Kantor are Talent Management Consultants at Latchmere Performance Solutions Co. Ltd. Justin Paul (Justin@Latchmereconsulting.com) has helped executives in over 30 countries improve leadership capability. Ronald Kantor (Ron@LatchmereSolutions.com) is a Senior Solutions Architect Ph.D. in Education & Human Development.

Series Editor: Christopher F. Bruton is Executive Director of Dataconsult Ltd, chris@dataconsult.co.th. Dataconsult's Thailand Regional Forum provides seminars and extensive documentation to update business on future trends in Thailand and in the Mekong Region.


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