Traditionally, I have started the new year with a blog that recaps the past and looks to the future in assessment. My habit has been to insert a statement concerning how difficult it is to predict the future. However, this year I was surprised to find that some of the topics I would select for future trends, were actually covered in my blogs over the past year. So, maybe with age I am getting better at prophecy.
My predictions for future trends or hot topics over the coming year include:
- Mobile Devices and Technology
- Big Data and Predictive Analytics
- Police Performance.
Mobile Devices and Technology
The Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP) recently listed their top ten trends for 2015. Number 1 was Mobile Assessments. It is clear that mobile assessments increase “flow through” or the number and diversity of individuals tested. On the other hand, mobile assessments present a number of challenges in terms of programming, comparability of scores, and the noise in the environment.
Practitioners have a large number of questions concerning the use of mobile devices, more questions than there are evidence-based answers. As a result, I can safely predict an increase in the number of publications we will see dealing with the issue of mobile testing, especially research looking at the question of measurement equivalence across device type. From a personal perspective, I see the issues involved in using mobile devices for assessment as one piece of the larger technology puzzle, which would include the movement to greater use of online assessment. Candidates have come to expect that assessments will be offered in an online version. Online assessments have many advantages including simplicity, efficiency, and cost savings.
IPMA-HR is now offering selected tests through the new Online Test Administration Service (OTAS). The plan is to have all tests available for online administration in the near future.
Big Data and Predictive Analytics
I must admit to having concerns regarding the faddish nature of the Big Data and Predictive Analytics movement. From my perspective, assessment professional have been engaged in Predictive Analytics for over 60 years. Nevertheless, Big Data is here to stay and finished Number 2 on the SIOP trend list. Assessment professionals will have to familiarize themselves with the language of Big Data and Predictive Analytics.
We will have to increase our awareness of advancements in the use of Big Data and Predictive Analytics and ensure that all selection decisions are made in a fair and valid manner, whether based on traditional models or empirical relationships discovered through Big Data analytics. In particular, within the public sector, we should remain wary of any attempt to substitute the measurement of demographic or Big Data-based variables for professionally developed and validated assessments of individual merit.
Related posts by Doverspike, D (2014):
The management of “brand” or “image” can be seen as particularly important in the public sector because there is a strong belief expressed in a variety of media that young job seekers are not attracted toward government agencies and jobs. Thus, human resource professionals must be concerned with the maintenance of a positive public sector image. Selection strategies can impact the image that applicants, employees, and the general public hold of your organization. Thus, we should take responsibility for the impact of our selection methods and decisions on the reputation of the organization.
An important part of branding is the impression that your employees make on the public. Those who work directly with the public are a major factor in shaping the image the public will hold of your agency. Effective and efficient customer service is key. With the improvement of customer service in mind, IPMA-HR will be working on rolling out a “generic” customer service test for 2015. The availability of this new instrument should aid organizations in the task of identifying and hiring the best customer service personnel available.
Finally, as promised several months ago, some results on branding in the public sector from my mini-survey. Unfortunately, I only received 19 complete responses; I thank those who took the time to complete the survey. Based on the readership of the blog, I would assume most individuals are employed in the public sector.
Now the results (again based on a small, mostly public sector sample):
- The public sector was seen as having the following positive attributes:
- A good image among respondents and being a good place to work.
- A socially responsible image.
- Hard working employees.
- The public sector was seen as having the following negative attributes:
- A poor or below average image in the mind of the general public.
- A below average financial image and future.
- An image as failing to pay fairly, although with good benefits.
- An image as failing to pay based on performance or merit.
Looking at the results, I believe they suggest a divide between the way public sector employees see the government as an employer, which would be in a generally positive fashion, and the way employees believe the public sees the government, which is not very positive. The respondents were also concerned about the financial shape and future of the government, which seems tied to the general issue of the fairness of pay, as well as the ability to attract future employees.
Compared to many private sector companies, the reaction of public sector employees to the government as an employer tends to be pretty positive. The results of this mini-survey support this viewpoint. Hopefully, the positive message of work in the public sector can be communicated to future candidates for employment.
As I write this blog, the topic of police performance dominates the news cycle and social media. Police work is incredibly difficult and the educational requirements associated with the job continue to rise. At the same time, many communities are reporting that they are experiencing a shortage of applicants; recent events will probably exacerbate that trend. As assessment professionals, we are under continued pressure to recruit, screen, select, train, and retain highly qualified individuals to serve the public through police work.
In order to assist you, IPMA-HR Assessment Services has added to its already existing suite of products for police selection. In addition to the previously mentioned availability of online testing, Assessment Services is introducing a Police Officer Structured Interview System (POSIS). Based on extensive studies with nearly 1,000 candidates, POSIS will provide in one package everything you need to conduct structured and defensible oral interviews, thereby adding a new item to your assessment arsenal.
The POSIS guides you through all the steps of the process including planning, training raters, delivery of the interviews, and scoring. The POSIS should greatly aid communities in delivering a standardized, valid interview process, which should lead to the hiring of highly competent police officers and a more positive image for both human resources and the police department.
My final prediction is that public sector assessment professionals will have to expand their competency in various areas of emerging technologies, including an expanded knowledge of online assessment, Big Data, and the development of “branded” assessments. This will require that we learn to communicate and work on teams with members of allied professions, especially those in the Information Technology areas. As we move into the future, you can count on IPMA-HR Assessment Services to develop and deliver innovative products and selection systems, while continuing to support their traditional battery of tests.
This brings to a close my first year as a blogger for Assessment Services. I hope you, the reader, found my blogs to be informative and enjoyable. I am always willing to consider any feedback you have or suggestions for future topics.