Are you looking into pre-employment Physical Abilities Testing options for your company? These programs can be of great benefit to Human Resources, Safety, Risk Management, and operations, providing all parties with more information about an applicant’s work-related physical abilities. The tests are also helpful when employees apply for transfer or promotion. Having objective information on their physical ability to perform the job ensures that you're placing the right people in the right jobs. However, the quality and accuracy of the information you receive is critical to realizing those benefits, and that depends heavily on your test provider.
As use of Physical Abilities Testing has risen quickly over the last few years, so too has the number and types of providers offering testing services. For the most part, testing providers should be specialists who focus on one or two types of employment testing. However, some providers offer a one stop shop service, offering an array of different employment screenings to their customers. While using a "jack of all trades" provider may seem appealing in terms of recruiter and applicant convenience, there are a few things about one-stop-shop testing that you may not know – things that could make a big difference in just how well your testing programs work for your company.
One Size Does Not Fit All Testing
One-stop-shop pre-employment Physical Abilities Testing providers typically offer a range of pre-configured testing options. These can be mixed, matched, or tweaked for some degree of customization, but many are still basically off-the-shelf, one-size-fits-all solutions. The problem is that no two businesses – even in the same industry – are exactly alike, and like one-size-fits-all clothing, off-the-shelf pre-employment Physical Abilities Testing never fits anyone quite right. A solid Physical Abilities Testing program – one that accurately predicts which candidates will meet the needs of your organization – will be one designed just for that organization, identifying its specific, individual needs and working to accommodate them.
Hiring practices are tightly regulated, and any pre-hire, post-offer Physical Abilities Testing program must be in compliance with local, state, and federal employment law. In particular, Physical Abilities Testing must be ADA and EEOC compliant. If the test provided by a one-stop-shop clinic is more of a one-size-fits-all model and is not truly job specific, then the company requesting testing is exposed to legal risk. So, the question to ask is this: Will a provider who offers a variety of services really be expert at delivering defensible screens?
Most of the occupational health clinics who offer drug tests and physicians’ physicals are staffed primarily by MDs, RNs, or physician’s assistants. Their specialty is drug testing and conducting medical exams, which are very different from Physical Abilities Tests. In contrast, therapy clinics doing Physical Abilities Tests are staffed primarily by physical and occupational therapists, athletic trainers, or exercise physiologists who have training in kinesiology and patho-kinesiology (the study of normal and abnormal human movement and body mechanics). Their training and expertise is optimal for conducting Physical Abilities Testing.
Most occupational health clinics do not employ therapists who can do Physical Abilities Testing, and most therapy clinics do not employ MDs, RNs, or physician’s assistants who can do drug tests and medical exams. Going to an occupational health clinic and expecting to get your Physical Abilities Test done is similar to going to the eye doctor and expecting to also get your teeth cleaned while you are there. If you don’t want the eye doctor cleaning your teeth, you probably don’t want an MD conducting your physical abilities test.
Equipment and Space
Simulating job demands in Physical Abilities Testing often requires the use of specialized equipment that is used on the jobs – pallets, tarps, product boxes, dollies, carts, hand trucks, ladders, kegs, bags of cement, etc. The more the testing equipment is like the job requirement, the more face validity the test has. Many occupational health clinics don’t have the space to use or store this type of bulky equipment. And the testing can require pushing, pulling, walking, or crawling which is often difficult to perform in a medical exam room. In contrast, many therapy clinics are designed with more open floor plans that allow for utilization of bulky equipment and movement over larger spaces.
The Devil is Definitely in the Details
All of these considerations – especially expertise and test development – are essential details to take into account as you consider your employment testing options. While an accurate, efficient, and legally defensible pre employment screening program can do great things for your company – reducing hiring risks, workplace injury risks and employee turnover, among many other bottom line benefits – a poorly designed program can end up costing you a lot, both in terms of hiring efficiency and legal expenses. So, in most cases, skipping the one-stop-shop screening providers is your best bet – unless they meet the above noted criteria of expertise, customized testing, equipment, and space. Instead, choose a provider who specializes in Physical Abilities Testing. The greater expertise and experience these providers bring to the table is worth much more than a little temporary convenience.