3 Myths and a Truth about Physical Abilities Testing

[fa icon="calendar'] Aug 31, 2015 8:00:00 AM / by Lane Savage

  1. It’s complicated
  2. It’s expensive
  3. We’ll get sued!
  4. It slows down the hiring process

It’s Complicated

Despite what you may have heard, pre employment physical abilities testing isn’t complicated at all. Sure, the science behind developing a safe, accurate and legally defensible screening protocol is deep and wide, consisting of time-and-motion studies, intricate algorithms, and peer-reviewed research. But that’s not the issue; if you want to know what time it is, nobody needs to tell you how to build a watch. From the employer’s perspective, there are really only 3 steps to putting a program into place:

  1. Job Analysis
  2. Screen Development
  3. Testing

That’s it. Simple.

It’s Expensive

When you consider the cost of a bad hire, even in a high-turnover, low-pay environment, hiring workers who cannot do the job is a nightmare. Sure, people come and go, but every time they do it’s costing you money. Worse still is when they stay on the job just long enough to get injured. You lose in two ways: they aren’t in the position long enough to get good at their job, then they get hurt and you get the bill.

According to the National Council on Compensation Insurance, the average workers’ compensation claim now exceeds $28,000 per injury. Yet the going rate for pre employment physical abilities testing is about $175 per candidate. And since you only screen those candidates to whom you’ve already made a conditional offer – that is, people you actually want to hire - it’s pretty cheap insurance. But don’t take our word for it. A study by the University of Illinois at Chicago showed that not only is physical abilities testing inexpensive, it actually returns as much as $18 in savings for every dollar spent. That’s an ROI that you – not to mention your CFO - can’t afford to ignore.

We’ll Get Sued!

We live in a litigious society. Good risk management starts with doing what you can to avoid getting sued. But FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt) is hardly a reason not to implement a program that can reduce your workers’ compensation expenses by more than 50%. In fact, using a legally defensible, ADA-compliant physical abilities testing program probably makes you less likely to be sued by an injured worker – or the candidate you didn’t hire in the first place. Since you took the prudent path of making sure they could actually meet the physical demands of the job, they're less likely to be injured. And because your testing program mirrors the essential elements of the job, rescinding an offer to a candidate who cannot pass the screen is clearly permitted under the law.

It Slows Down the Hiring Process

It’s true. Requiring job candidates to schedule and undergo a pre employment physical abilities test extends the time from offer to actual hire. How could it not? But when it comes to hiring, that’s a feature, not a bug. When you run job candidates through the usual 4-5 week gauntlet of applications, phone screens, in-person interviews, drug screens, and criminal records checks before you’re ready to hire, you’re going to lose some people. And now you want to add physical abilities testing to an already lengthy process? Your HR department isn’t going to like it; operations probably won’t either. But here’s the thing: if your company is looking to improve the quality of hire, reduce turnover and cut the costs of workplace injuries, the extra 2-3 days required to schedule, perform and report on a physical abilities test is peanuts, because bad hires cost money. Besides, do you really want to hire the person who takes the job with you because they don’t have to demonstrate they're physically capable of doing it?

Physical Abilities Test Webinar

Topics: Pre Employment Screening

Lane Savage

Written by Lane Savage