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Surveys can reveal workplace traits
[December 04, 2012]

Surveys can reveal workplace traits

Dec 04, 2012 (The News & Observer (Raleigh - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Workplace compatibility surveys can help small business owners make smart hiring decisions.

When it comes to the workplace traits of an employee or a potential hire, there are no right or wrong answers, says notes researcher Rob Ployhart, with the Darla Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina.

That's why these surveys shouldn't be regarded as tests, Ployhart said.

Instead, think of them as predictors of how a potential hire or employee will do in a work setting. These surveys can provide insight if they are done appropriately and are developed by knowledgeable professionals, Ployhart said.

However, poorly crafted surveys could pose legal liabilities for employers, Ployhart said. Vendors of well-designed surveys should be able to talk easily and specifically about the reliability and validity of their assessments, he Ployhart said.

Trait surveys were once considered the exclusive domain of large companies, which would use them with large-scale hiring. But today, work sites of all sizes are using surveys, Ployhart said. More vendors now have their own versions. They're administering surveys to candidates quickly, easily, and often cheaply -- via the Internet or phone -- to help work sites figure out the best fit.

"A lot of times, small business owners don't think any of that is relevant or useful," said Ployhart, the school's Bank of America Professor of Business Administration. "But it's just as useful for learning about a candidate as it is for a larger company. The challenge is finding the right kind of assessment for their purposes." Well-developed surveys are consistent with hiring laws and workplace guidelines, because they focus on characteristics that are truly job related, Ployhart said.

These assessments are also effective in helping employers hire the right person the first time -- a high priority for small business owners, says Eileen Stephens, a Charlotte-area licensee with Culture Index.

Founded eight years ago by a veteran CEO, the Kansas City, Mo.-based Culture Index program uses short, simple surveys to help workplace leaders determine how a person fits in with an organization. Employers also receive training and consultation in interpreting results, Stephens said.

Surveys can also help with teambuilding, and career guidance of an employee by showing "how to manage and motivate that person," Stephens said.

Costs for these surveys range from $5 to $10, to $100 or so per candidate, Ployhart said.

___ (c)2012 The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.) Visit The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.) at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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