How to Reduce Employee Turnover with Physical Abilities Testing

[fa icon="calendar'] Sep 3, 2015 8:00:00 AM / by Deborah Lechner

Physical abilities testing (PAT) is a very effective tool for employers in terms of improving workplace safety and reducing the number and cost of workers' compensation claims. While these are perhaps the best-known benefits of having this type of testing program in place in your company, they aren't the only ones. A solid, science-based PAT program can also help your company reduce employee turnover – an issue that can take a hefty toll on your bottom line.

Employee turnover is expensive. While the costs do vary from one business to another and even between positions in the same workplace, estimates on the costs of losing and replacing an employee range as high as 150 percent of that employee's annual salary, according to Inc. Magazine.


Many of those costs are clear, such as the expenses associated with advertising vacant positions, screening and interviewing candidates, training new hires, and so on. Others are less obvious, but still a very real drag on the bottom line, such as costs associated with being understaffed  reduced productivity and/or overworked staff, for instance.

How, exactly, can physical abilities testing reduce employee turnover and its costs? By ensuring that employment candidates are well-matched to the physical demands of the specific jobs for which they are being considered. A well-designed post-offer PAT program will begin with identifying the essential functions of the positions on offer and quantifying the physical demands that employees performing those functions will face on a daily basis – a process called a job demands analysis. Then, a test will be devised to evaluate the ability of job candidates to meet those demands.

New hires who have shown themselves to possess the physical capabilities necessary to perform the daily tasks of the job by passing a post offer PAT are much more likely to stay than new employees who struggle to keep up, leaving them feeling exhausted and frustrated at the end of the workday. Additionally, you're much less likely to lose employees who perform well on a PAT to injury, since they've proven themselves fit and capable enough to handle the work at hand safely and efficiently.

How much impact can a pre employment PAT program make on employee turnover rates? According to research published in the journal "Work," it can produce impressive results. This research analyzed data from three predictive validation studies and a meta-analysis on the results of physical abilities testing programs implemented in 175 locations, testing the physical abilities of workers in strenuous warehouse jobs across three industries.

According to study authors, that data showed that new hires who passed physical abilities testing were much more likely to stay on the job, with a 21 percent higher retention than those who did not pass a PAT. They were also much less likely to leave the workforce due to on-the-job injuries. Data from the predictive validation studies showed a 47 percent reduction in workers' comp injuries in those who passed a PAT, and the data of the meta-analysis of warehouse workers showed that testing reduced injuries by 41 percent.

So making sure that serious candidates have the necessary physical capabilities to meet the demands of the job can make a real difference in employee retention. That, in turn, can significantly reduce the costs and time-consuming hassles of high employee turnover rates.

Physical Abilities Testing ROI Whitepaper

Topics: Reducing Turnover

Deborah Lechner

Written by Deborah Lechner

Deborah Lechner, ErgoScience President, combines an extensive research background with 25-plus years of clinical experience. Under her leadership, ErgoScience continues to use the science of work to improve workplace safety, productivity and profitability.