Now that you've hired someone who can't do the job...what next?

[fa icon="calendar'] May 24, 2022 4:47:07 PM / by Deborah Lechner

If you think you just can't afford to do Pre-Hire Physical Abilities Testing with the current workforce shortage...what CAN you do to prevent injuries?    

"The Great Talent Recession." There's a critical workforce shortage - no doubt about it.  And as with most critical problems, it's a complex one.  According to a recent Bloomberg opinion article the "Great Talent Recession" is influenced to some degree by:

  • the corona virus
  • baby boomers retiring
  • declining birth rates
  • changes in immigration
  • drop out of the working age population - especially men
  • the opioid crisis
  • decline in vocational programs

As one of our clients recently put it... "With such a limited pool of applicants we've got to hire right and keep our people safe.  Losing even one employee to an injury and trying to backfill that slot is a huge challenge - there's no one to take an extra shift."

She continues..."Whereas a few years ago we rarely had a 6-figure injury -  now we routinely see them.  Our employees have so many co-morbidities that dramatically increase the injury costs." 

The cost of choosing poorly.  Those of us who focus on injury prevention know the cost of choosing an applicant who doesn't have the strength or stamina to do the job. One of two things happens.  The lucky ones quickly realize they are in over their heads and that they just can't keep up with the physical requirements of the work. 

The unlucky ones struggle through until they get a serious injury and then neither their personal nor work-life is never the same. They can no longer support their families, lose their ability to participate in their hobbies and if they continue to work likely have a reduced income for years to come. 

Meanwhile the injured worker's employer pays at least $60-$80K in both direct and indirect costs, for their lost time injury - and if th e situation becomes litigious the employer might have to shell out over a half million dollars settling a workers compensation law suit.  All while the company suffers lost productivity and profitability. 

Not a pretty picture. 

The risk of choosing at all.  But on the operations and human resources side of things - there aren't enough workers to get the job done.  Which, in turn, leads to lost revenue and customer dissatisfaction.  

What can be done?  Of course in a more perfect world - or at least in a world where there wasn't a critical workforce shortage, I'd be advocating for beginning with PRE-HIRE Physical Abilities Testing to determine whether the applicant has the ability to do the job...

But if that is absolutely unpalatable for your organization, then the next best thing is POST-HIRE Physical Abilities Testing. 

Plan B.  Part 1.  Post-Hire Physical Abilities Testing

Unless you do something after hiring candidates who are not physically qualified for the job, you’re now going to get a bunch of injuries among new hires AND lose candidates to early exit. 


Not if you use POST-HIRE Physical Abilities Testing …for PLACEMENT.

The success of this strategy works best if:

  • You’re hiring for jobs with diverse levels of physical requirements.
  • The jobs do not require specialized previous experience (think warehouse associate or general laborer)
  • The testing provider uses a TIERED TESTING APPROACH

Plan B.  Part 2. Work Acclimation.  Even if you place applicants in jobs that match their physical abilities, they may still get injured if they lack the endurance for long shifts or don’t know how to lift properly. They need a little time to build endurance and learn proper lifting techniques while they acclimate to work.

Teaching proper lifting technique and manual materials handling (MMH) doesn’t just happen in one session. It takes practice and reinforcement. And it’s NOT a one size fits all type of training. For the training to stick it must be:

  • Customized to YOUR jobs
  • Accompanies by practice and REINFORCEMENT

But who has time to do all that practice and reinforcement?

YOU DO – if your employees use wearable sensors that give them feedback (think little vibration) when they lift poorly.

The Gold Standard for POST-HIRE INJURY PREVENTION:  Let me introduce what I believe is the gold standard for post-hire injury prevention in the event that your organization can't be convinced to pre-hire testing - combining Plan B: Parts 1 & 2 described above. 

  1. Post-Hire Physical Abilities Testing 
  2. Work Acclimation
  3. Customize Lift/MMH training
  4. Training reinforcement with wearable sensors
    post-hire strategy

Can't Place?  Plan C. If you don’t have enough diversity in the physical requirements of your jobs to allow placement that matches the workers’ physical abilities, then at least you’ll know the workers’ functional  strength/endurance capabilities and a strengthening regimen can be added to the work acclimation process.

Other Side Benefits...In addition to preventing injuries, this Gold Standard Post-Hire Injury Prevention Process REDUCES CHURN.

In today’s environment of severe – sometimes even crippling - workforce shortage, you can’t afford to lose people to injuries or to early exit because they feel overwhelmed with the physical requirements of the job.

If you’re going to hire workers for physically demanding jobs, they deserve GOLD STANDARD POST-HIRE PREVENTION.

Both you, your organization and the employees you hire will reap the rewards.

To lean more about our Supercharged Injury Prevention Strategies attend our free live virtual workshop on June 14th at 12:00 CDT.

FREE Live Virtual Workshop

For more information about Hire to Retire Injury PreventionView EBook →

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Topics: Workplace Safety, Injury Prevention, Risk Management, Workers' Compensation Costs, Reduce workplace injuries

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.