How to Assess Employees

how to assess employees

There are many reasons that people assess employees, and many characteristics that can be assessed. Companies often want to know how employees feel about their jobs and might assess engagement or job satisfaction. Consultants will provide assessment services for companies who do not have the capability in house, and there is no shortage of client companies who find value in their efforts. Researchers want to understand employee reactions to jobs including their attitudes, their perceptions of the work environment, and their emotional reactions. No matter your purpose you need to understand how to assess employees.

What Are Employee Assessments?

Assessments consist of two parts.

  • A series of statements or items that concern some aspect of the employee or the workplace. For example, a measure of job satisfaction might have the statement “I like my job”.
  • Several response options for the employee to choose for each statement. The choices are ordered from low to high. For the job satisfaction item, there might be six choices than range from “strongly disagree” to “strongly agree”. Employees who dislike their jobs would disagree and those who like their jobs would agree with this statement.

Each assessment will contain multiple items that employees can respond to. The response options are numbered so that the strongest disagreement would be 1 and strongest agreement would be 6. Responses to all items would be summed into a total score.

Multiple items are used because it increases precision of the assessment. Errors that employees might make due to distraction or inattention will have a big impact on a single item, such as choosing disagree when the employee really agrees. With multiple items those errors are averaged out and have far less impact on the total score.

How Are Assessments Developed

Good assessments are not easy to develop. It takes expertise and considerable effort to develop a sound assessment that can accurately reflect the characteristics of interest. Proper assessment development means conducting research, often several studies. It begins by writing a number of potential items. They are administered to a group of employees, and complex statistics are used to help choose those items that will produce the best assessment. I discuss details involved in developing assessment in Summated Rating Scale Construction.

What Can You Assess?

The range of things that can be assessed in employees is mainly limited by your imagination. These include:

  • Attitudes: How do employees feel about the job? This includes their commitment to their employer and their job satisfaction.
  • Behavior: Assessments can ask employees how often they perform specific behaviors, both positive (pitching in to help another employee) and negative (taking unauthorized work breaks).
  • Perceptions: How do employees view their jobs and workplace. This includes perceptions of their coworkers (are they cooperative?), stress (are workloads excessive?) supervisors (is structure provided), and tasks (does the employee have autonomy is how to perform the job?).
  • Personality: What kind of person is the employee? Is he/she conscientious and hard working? Introverted and shy? Outgoing and the life of the party?

How to Assess Employees

Employees are assessed through the use of surveys that in today’s world are administered online through an web hosting service. The survey includes the assessments of interest, and in many cases multiple assessments are chosen. Some companies develop their own assessments and administer their own surveys. Consulting firms often develop and sell their own assessments, or they purchase assessments from a testing company. Researchers generally use assessments developed by themselves and other researchers.

There are many assessments that have been developed for both commercial and research uses. I have developed a number myself, which I provide on my website. Researchers and students can use them for free for educational/research purposes. For commercial uses there is a fee. The most popular assessment is the Job Satisfaction Survey that provides scores on several aspects of the job, such as pay and supervision.

Assessments can be a valuable tool for managing employees. They can make hiring and training more effective, and they can be used to determine what practices are and are not working. Not all assessments are created equal, and to make the most of them, you need to know how to assess employees.

Photo by Marta Longas from Pexels

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