Dilemmas of a HR Leader During Lockdown

Navjit Singh-21 April, 2020 -Game-Based Assessment

From an HR perspective, it's fast becoming apparent that perhaps the single-most-important investment during and post this lockdown involves keeping the workforce engaged and build a workforce that is resilient, stays positive, and works on their core strengths. It's a well-accepted fact that post this lockdown many organizations would see hiring freeze, delayed appraisals, realignment of organization structures, and budget cuts of varying proportions. Can organizations afford to delay or put a hold on their capacity and capability building in these uncertain times? Can HR play blind in these times?

The resounding answer is a BIG NO.

In any restructuring involving people, HR is always at the forefront. They are often the bad guys responsible for taking and conveying the hard decisions. These decisions impact the very people they might have hired or nurtured along the way, but the tough decision has to be taken for the larger good of the organization and its survival. They cannot go wrong during this time or can't be in a dilemma while answering some pertinent questions like

1. How should the new team-structure look like? How to best utilize existing staff? What are the training requirements based on the new organization structure?

2. Who are the High-Potentials or next line of leadership that can lead the organization out of recession?

3. How do I hire the right talent now or once restrictions are removed with confidence for replacement?

4. How do I explain the new role and assignments without bias and aligned to their strengths confidently?

5. How do I keep employees engaged without increasing the level of stress and anxiety employees are already struggling with?

History shows that the organizations that outperformed their competitors post the last financial downturn were the ones that didn't wait for the economy to change but proactively prepared the organization with a right set of people. These organizations found a direct correlation between success and presence of traits like resilience, abilities to solve new problems, level of motivational drive to succeed, etc. amongst their leaders and workforce. And, when employees work from their inherent strengths - as opposed to tasks that don't come naturally - the results are easier to achieve, and anxiety levels tend to be lower, improving overall well-being.

HR leaders must proactively prepare the role-competency fitment maps for their people organization NOW rather than waiting for the lockdown to be over.

So, the question is how do HR leaders answer all these questions backed with data and take the people decisions confidently. One tool used by HR leaders for over the last couple of decades to take people decisions involving hiring, training, and developing with confidence are the psychometric assessments. But the question arises, that when the employees are already disengaged, stressed-out, and anxious, is this the right time to use psychometric assessments? So, the choice really boils down to using an assessment that helps HR leaders accomplish these without increasing the stress levels while being valid and reliable. Organizations across the globe across multiple industries are taking a game-based approach to assessment for informed decision making.

Game-based assessments are psychometric assessments intentionally built as games. They have several key advantages over more traditional methods of assessment.

1. Due to their fast-paced and immersive nature, game-based assessments reveal a candidate's natural behavior and responses in a way that traditional testing methods cannot. Unlike traditional assessments, game-based assessments are progressive - they adapt as the candidate engages with it.

2. Framing the assessment as a 'game' rather than a 'test' reduces anxiety, making the hiring process more inclusive and accurate for employees who might get nervous during formal testing.

3. Game-based assessments make it difficult for a candidate to fake the responses. Because of the gaming elements, the candidates get immersed in the game without realizing the competencies getting measured and brings out their natural responses to situations. And, since they don't know what and when they are getting measured in a game, it's difficult for them to manipulate it.

4. Gameplay is significantly more engaging than a traditional psychometric assessment. Employees are more likely to complete a series of games than a lengthy test and are more likely to enjoy the experience.

5. Game-based assessments appear fair to the employees. By design, assessment data is objective and eliminates bias that may arise from subjective interpretations of a reporting manager of HR business partner. Games allow for more data points to be collected than a traditional multiple-choice assessment. Combining this with machine learning techniques provides increased predictive validity and, therefore, a more accurate picture of how an employee's strengths.

The analysis of inherent strengths can help HR leaders to calibrate organizational structure, reset goals, design interventions, and provide coaching to bring out the best in their teams. Due to the immersive nature of the game they can do this while keeping their employees engaged and without increasing the level of stress they are already under.

There's now a growing recognition that tools like game-based assessments can provide the armour in addressing the dilemmas of HR leaders and equipped with the assessments they can now prepare the people organization to successfully guide the organization out of this uncertain, fast-paced, stressful, competitive, and relentless work environments we find ourselves in.