Focusing a spotlight on ethics and values
The final stretches of winter always brings to mind Andrew Wyeth's quote "I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape…something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn't show."
As HR specialists or hiring managers, we have always faced this issue; having to base decisions solely on a candidate's answer during an interview or the results of an exam, while not being able to discover the whole story that determines if the individual shares the same values as the organization. Beyond the skill set and knowledge base, similar values between an organization and potential employees ensures a right fit that benefits all parties in the long-run.
We have heard this issue raised at the various conferences and workshops that we have attended, as well as in our dealings with our numerous clients and partners. As EPSI strives to always provide the most innovative testing products and services available, we are proud to be able to address this challenge and present our Organizational Values Test. This test is more relevant than ever, as values and ethics have never played a bigger part in our work environment than they do today. Recent headlines concerning the misconduct and negligence of senior executives in leading companies have made organizations realize that an individual's values and ethics should not be checked at the door when entering the workplace. Instead, the values and ethics of an individual should be incorporated into the work environment. More and more, companies are challenging their employees to be practitioners of human values and ethics and to cultivate a practice of corporate responsibility.
In this edition of the EPSI newsletter, we provide readers with information on Compmetrica's Organizational Values Test and the manner in which EPSI has successfully dealt with challenges under the new provisions for staffing in the Canadian federal public service. We also present the expert advice of our president André Durivage in regard to a reader's question concerning reliability, validity and adverse effects of generic tests. Lastly, our EPSI expert discusses her impressions on the changes of workplace values within the last 15 years.
Once again, we would like to thank you for your continued readership and the loyalty that has been demonstrated in EPSI and our Compmetrica line of assessment products. We hope you enjoy our latest version of the newsletter and that like us, are glad that ethics and values in the workplace are making a comeback!
ORGANIZATIONAL VALUES TEST (OVT)
Human Resources Management and the Importance of Organizational Values
Why do we say that organizational values are so important? Over the past few years, numerous organizations invested in efforts to identify the values that represented them, the values from which their development and orientation originates, and the values that are at the core of their organizational functioning. Values are powerful tools that permit managers as well as employees to better understand the decisions and objectives that are established in order to adjust their behaviour accordingly.
Is there a correlation that exists between organizational values and human resources? Numerous studies (Verquer & al., 2003; Hofman & al. 2006, Kristof & al., 2005; Arthur & al. 2006) have shown there exists a direct correlation between values and organizational efficiency. We were able to demonstrate that a ‘fit' between a person's values and that of the organization is at origin of:
- A greater level of satisfaction in regards to tasks to accomplish;
- A greater level of satisfaction in regards to the nature of the work;
- A greater level of satisfaction in regards to the organization;
- An increased level of engagement on the part of the employee;
- A decreased intent to quit.
In addition, these same studies showed that a better ‘fit' improved employee productivity at all levels.
How can we assess organizational values and extract the information that is relevant to the Department of Human Resources?
Just as there are tools to assess skills, knowledge and personality traits, there are tests that assess an organization's values. However, until recently, these tests provided limited information and did not take into account the composite of values represented within organizations.
In order to overcome this challenge, COMPMETRICA has developed a tool that allows one to not only identify values that are shared by employees or management, but also allow for the comparison of these values in order to identify at what point they converge or diverge. The OVT (Organizational Values Test), introduced to the North American market in November 2009, allows the identification of the values of employees, directors, or groups of people. Two types of values are identified, those that are considered "basic values" (what the organization would like to achieve) and those more closely related to "work values" (how the organization would like to achieve them).
The OVT can be used in a number of manners and contexts, including:
- As a organizational diagnostic tool (what are our organizational values);
- Personnel recruitment (do candidates share similar values to that of the organization);
- Benchmarking (how do the organizations values compare to values found within other organizations in the same sector?) - this information is provided within the report framework generated by the test;
- Merging of departments or organizations (in order to assess whether there exists concordance between the values of the two entities).
This test is available to businesses of any type wishing to explore the area of organizational values in order to guide their strategies and conduct self-assessments. Finally, the OVT can be administered in a pencil-and-paper format or using a secure platform on the Internet, according to the client organization's needs.
WHAT WOULD THE DR. DO?
Dispensing expert HR advice from EPSI's President, the highly respected author André Durivage, Ph.D.
Q: Recently we've begun research regarding the purchase and use of new assessment tools to be used within our organization. We've expanded our research to Canadian and other International companies; however, we are unsure of whether assessment tools created external to the US are valid under US laws and regulations. Can we use Canadian assessment tools in our American selection processes?
A: Great question! The short answer is yes, assessment tools developed in Canada can be used in American processes. Prior to their use there are three particular areas that need to be verified for any assessment tool;
- Does the tool assess competencies which are directly linked to the job in terms of tasks and responsibilities?
- Is the assessment tool psychometrically valid?
- Does the tool create adverse impact by discriminating against certain groups?
Any assessment tool used in a selection process in the US, whether American or Canadian, must adhere to a number of laws and regulations that are enacted through numerous Acts and Commissions such as; Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (CRA) of 1964 (as amended in 1972); Tower Amendment to Title VII, Title I of the Civil Rights Act of 1991, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) - 1990 and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)—1972. Most importantly, the assessment tools must be developed and applied in accordance with the Uniform Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedures (1978) 1, which was jointly produced by the EEOC and three other federal agencies—the Civil Service Commission (predecessor of the Office of Personnel Management) and the Labor and Justice Departments. The Uniform Guidelines provide a framework for employers and organization to determine the proper use of tests and selections procedures.
As outlined in the Uniform Guidelines, in order to ensure that an assessment tool directly pertains to a job, a job analysis must be completed and a number of factors examined. To begin with, criterion-related validation requires demonstration of a correlation or other statistical relationship between test performance and job performance. Content-related validation requires a demonstration that the content of the test represents important job-related behaviours. In other words, test items should be relevant and measure directly pertinent requirements and qualifications for the job. Finally, construct-related validation requires a demonstration that the test measures the construct or characteristic it claims to measure, and that this characteristic is important to successful performance on the job.
In order to verify whether assessment tools are psychometrically sound, they should be validated using acceptable professional psychological standards; the Uniform Guidelines outlines the generally accepted professional standards for validating and evaluating standardized tests by referring to the publication, Standards for Psychological testing. The Standards publication was developed jointly by the American Psychological Association (APA), the National Council on Measurement in Education (NCME), and the American Educational Research Association (AERA). The term validity "refers to the degree to which evidence and theory support the interpretations of test scores entailed by proposed use of tests." (1999). In the development of EPSI's assessment tools and tests we begin by conducting literary reviews, job analyses, and establishing parameters through large sample groups. Various statistical analyses are then completed to verify predictive validity.
In regards to discrimination against certain groups, the Uniform Guidelines require that assessment tools do not create an adverse impact. In other words the use of a tool must not result in a substantially different rate of selection in hiring, promotion, or other employment decisions that work to the disadvantage of members of a race, sex, or ethnic group. To evaluate this impact the Uniform Guidelines suggest that adverse impact is indicated when the four-fifths or 80% rule is present. This means that the selection rate for one group is less than 80% (4/5) that of another. In order to address this issue, when EPSI establishes norms and rigorously analyses newly developed tools, we ensure to do so using sample groups that accurately represent the cultural and ethnic composition of North America.
Regardless of where you procure your assessment tools, the organization should always be able to provide you with a test manual that details the methods they have used to establish validity and ensure the tools do not create adverse impact. As long as those requirements are satisfied, your organization can use whichever assessment tools fit their organizational objectives, no matter the country in which they were developed.
For further information, visit our innovative assessment tools.
To submit a question to be answered by EPSI's president Dr. André Durivage, please send an email to email@example.com with ‘Question for the Doctor' clearly marked in the subject line.
United States Department of Labor. (1978) Uniform Guidelines of Employee
Selections Procedures, [On Line]. URL Address:
1 AERA, APA et NCME. Standards for educational and psychological Testing (1999), Washington, AERA Publications, 1999.
Public Service Staffing Tribunal (PSST)
Experience and expertise in resolving disagreements
The Public Service Staffing Tribunal (PSST) - A New Body Takes the Lead in Settling Disagreements
By Nicolas Roy
Assessment and Evaluation Consultant
Appeal tribunals, considered slow and complex and widely criticized 1, are now being replaced by the Public Service Staffing Tribunal, an independent, quasi-judicial body created to handle complaints concerning internal appointments to the federal civil service.
This changing of the guard was brought about under the Public Service Modernization Act (PSMA) and strengthened by the Public Service Employment Act (PSEA) and implies a new approach to resolving disagreements. Communication, mediation and dialogue are now the watchwords associated with the process, promising a more rapid resolution. The new mechanism can seem disconcerting for anyone who might become caught up in it. In fact, the consequences of a PSST process are not to be taken lightly, and that is why a good understanding is required before becoming involved.
As mentioned previously, the PSST's primary mandate is to deal with all complaints arising from the federal public service's internal appointment and lay-off process. In this regard, the Public Service Staffing Tribunal Regulation lays out the procedure by which it can efficiently fulfill its function and defines the steps to be followed in dealing with a complaint. While several steps are involved, three (3) are particularly important. They are communicating of information between the parties involved, the response to the complainant's allegations, and the hearing.
In staffing as in all else; an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Communication of information between those involved in the dispute, is an initial phase and precedes the complainant's allegations. This step consists of transmitting the information the complainant will be using in formulating his allegations and, by so doing, directing the complaint to specific motives. Two concepts should be strategically applied at this stage. Out of respect for one of the Public Service Commission's fundamental values, it is necessary to demonstrate openness and transparency. At the same time, communicating information that could needlessly damage the proceeding's soundness must be avoided. It has often happened that this step is not given due consideration and incomplete, confidential or irrelevant information has been communicated to complainants, with the effect of making the disagreement more acrimonious. This lack of attention, occasioned by the lack of consultants who specialize in the area of disagreement, have shown how important it is for the parties involved to receive sufficient support in completing this phase.
Following communication of information, the complainant draws up his allegations, that is, the motives he attributes to justify the soundness of the outcome he is seeking. Unless there is other notice, the allegations constitute the core of the process. In my experience, the respondent's answer to the allegations is the most critical step, for several reasons. For one thing, many advantages are to be gained from a response backed up by documentary evidence, legislation and jurisprudence. Among these advantages are the possibilities that the complaint would be withdrawn by the complainant or that the PSST would excuse the parties from a hearing and render a decision on the basis of written responses, a process commonly known as "hearing by file". In summary, with the support of a professional who specializes in the field, the respondent can be sure that his response to the allegations will rest on credible and convincing evidence.
The hearing is the final and decisive step. Appearing before the PSST is not a simple matter. While the burden of proof rests with the complainant, the respondent should have a strategy in place to thoroughly explain, comment on and argue the complainant's points. Such a strategy also involves choosing credible witnesses who are able to communicate their knowledge and expertise effectively regarding the specific aspects of the complaint in question. Nonetheless, a witness's credibility does not guarantee success. In my experience, it is never pleasant to see a witness defeated for lack of preparation. In this kind of exercise, credibility is important but preparation is not to be neglected. Everything again comes back to expertise and experience. Although representation at the tribunal is the responsibility of a lawyer, proper preparation calls for the opinion of an expert on the content, an expert who would be able to support the "respondent" organization, on the one hand, and, on the other, the lawyer handling the case. Combining the strengths of these two participants produces much more satisfactory results. This stage is followed by a period of waiting to hear the PSST's decision.
To be noted is that a parallel process exists, whereby the PSST suggests mediation, to which both parties in litigation must agree before it can begin. That said the process, which is based on the good faith of both parties, is an efficient way to resolve disagreements. Led by a PSST mediator, it allows the parties to discuss not only the complaint itself, but also alternative measures that might satisfy the complainant and lead to the complaint being withdrawn. This alternative might at first seem simplistic, but it is increasingly favoured by the legal community and deserves consideration when it becomes necessary to resolve a disagreement. Once again, external expertise makes it possible both to develop an effective mediation strategy and to propose new solutions that might satisfy the two parties. As the saying goes, "The worst agreement is sometimes better than the best judgement." Both parties to a mediated resolution feel that they have won, and their mutual animosity is thus neutralized. What's more, this process can be very quick, and if properly conducted, can reduce the stress factor for the individuals involved.
In conclusion, although external expertise and experience can greatly abet the resolution of a complaint to the PSST, it must be said that an appointment process that has been properly designed and conducted can eliminate getting caught up in that whirlpool. Experience and expertise should be taken advantage of when the appointment strategy is being formulated. Furthermore, a well-articulated strategy grounded in the PSC's values and guidelines, thoroughly developed assessment tools, and wisely dispensed advice will prevent a lot of headaches for the individuals involved. Meaning that, in staffing as in all else; an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
1 Office of the Auditor General of Canada, Report of the Auditor General of Canada (December 2001) - Chapter 2 - Recruiting for Canada's Future Public Service Changing the System, [On line]. URL Address:
CONFERENCES AND EXPOSITIONS
Read about our experiences as we participate in various conferences across North America.
By Pascal Leguerrier
Consultant - Marketing Support
CRHA 2009 Conference
Our central theme was "COMMUNICATION - at the heart of HR services" when we launched our brand new Web site at this year's CRHA Conference, held at Montreal's Palais des congrès on the 29th and 30th of September 2009.
It was all the more timely because our new EPSI website is first and foremost a powerful means of communicating with current and future clients. In fact, it makes it possible to review the firm's various consulting services, visit our on-line testing platform, or discover the wide range of COMPMETRICA assessment products in a single visit.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank the many clients who took the time to come and say hello at this conference. We would also like to acknowledge the enthusiasm of the conference-goers who stopped by and said they were impressed by the range of products and services the firm has to offer. As well as launching our new Web site, we were able to introduce our latest assessment products, the "Organizational Values Test" and the "Multiple-Choice Management In-Basket", which will be available very soon. So we'll see you again next year at what promises to be a rather grand conference, since it will have an international flavour!
For more information, visit "HR Without Limits - 13th World Human Resources Congress"'s website.
HRPA's 2010 Annual Conference and Trade Show
HRPA's Annual Conference and Trade Show is a three-day event that attracts more than 3,500 HR practitioners from across Ontario and around the world.
Held annually in the last week of January at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre - South Building, HR professionals exchange ideas with peers from around the world, choose from more than 130 unique sessions on the latest HR trends and issues, and hear from the world's leading business minds and keynote speakers. The Exhibitors at the HRPA Trade Show offer leading resources and professional contacts in the human resources profession. The show features more than 250 exhibitors of leading HR resources, services and technologies.
The firm would like to invite you all to drop by and see us at Stand 335. We will be taking full advantage of the event to let our clients and congress-goers know about the best way to optimize their assessment process. You will be able to receive judicious helpful and informative advice from our consultants and information about our many innovative assessment products, which we are sure will meet all your organizational needs.
For further information on this annual conference, please don't hesitate to visit the HRPA Web site.
WHAT'S HAPPENING IN HR
HEALTH PROMOTION IN THE WORKPLACE
Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. ~ World Health Organization, 1948
By Natalia Camargo Santos
Assessment and Evaluation Consultant
According to Statistics Canada, two-thirds of Canadians over the age of 15 years of age and older spend an average of 60 percent of their waking hours in the workplace 1. Given this information, organizations should be placing a greater emphasis on implementing various efforts to promote and improve the physical and mental health of its employees.
Previously, efforts that were implemented to create healthy workplaces mainly focused on safety at the workplace and injury prevention for employees. Recently, organizations are rapidly changing in order to accommodate to ever changing markets and diverse workforce. Consequently, stress, unhealthy eating habits, the difficulties involved when balancing work and family, and feelings of loss of control over workplace schedules and environments are some of the major health issues facing today's workforce. Increasingly, it is recognized that the workplace itself has a powerful affect on people's health. As stated by the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety;
"When people feel valued, respected and satisfied in their jobs and work in safe, healthy environments, they are more likely to be more productive and committed to their work. When the workplace is unsafe, stressful or unhealthy, ultimately both the organization and the employees are hurt" 2.
Educational/Wellness programs that are incorporated into organizational policies assist employees in choosing healthier behaviours relating to eating habits, physical activity, or quitting unhealthy habits such as smoking. In addition, practices/policies that include making reasonable demands on time and energy of employees, involving employees in decision making, rewarding work well done, openly communicating, and providing support to balance work and home life has a large impact on employee mental and physical health, and in turn, on productivity.
Finally, organizations who wish to retain and/or hire a qualified workforce need to consider and understand the connection between employee satisfaction and workplace wellness as changes in the pace of work and stress levels experienced by employees, combined with the rising cost of health care and benefits, have convinced many employers that investing in employee wellness makes good business sense.
Promoting a healthy workplace doesn't have to be complicated, expensive or time consuming. It can be as simple as;
- Providing your employees with Free Lifestyle health and wellness newsletters that provide information on community resources;
- Organizing recreational events such as lunchtime walking programs, activity days, support for summer active campaigns/activities, ski days, golf days and team sports;
- Incorporating, if possible, flex time to allow employees to participate in physical activity; and
- Researching and incorporating shared or subsidized programs in cooperation with community or private fitness centres.
1 Health Canada, Workplace Health System, [On line]. URL Address:
2 Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS), Bringing Health to Work, [On line]. URL Address:
ISABELLE COURVAL, EPSI EXPERT
EPSI experts provide valuable, informative perspectives on various aspects of HR. Below are the thoughts of one of those experts.
By Pascal Leguerrier
Consultant - Marketing Support
Organizational values have always held a special place within a business. Whether defined or not, they allow the business to define its identity. Clients and staff can also identify with them and share common values.
Recent studies show that individuals who largely share the organization's values are happier and have a higher level of loyalty and productivity. Let's see whether the theory holds true once it is put into practice.
Our winter edition provides an opportunity to feature one of EPSI's important figures. She has been with us since the business first started and has actively contributed to defining the organization's mission and values. On a day-to-day level, she is to a certain extent the guardian of organization values. She can therefore attest to how values evolve within a company and speak to the impact they have had at EPSI over the years.
Isabelle Courval first helped found EPSI by carrying out various assessment mandates, and she has gained considerable experience in the use of standardized assessment methods. She also actively participated in establishing the rules and procedures on which EPSI's impressive correction service is built. At this point, over 25,000 tests pass through the service each year.
In the meantime, EPSI, which at the outset consisted of a handful of people, saw its numbers of staff gradually increase as the business grew. Eventually, it became necessary to appoint someone to be responsible for personnel management. In 1999, Isabelle was therefore named Human Resources Director, a position she still holds today, in addition to her role heading up EPSI's testing services.
What values were put forward by EPSI when it first began, and how have they changed with time?
That's an interesting question. I've done a little research to compare the values we had first defined to those we have today. What is interesting to see is how consistent they have been over the past 15 years. They have different names, but their significance is the same. The quality of the service offered, employees and their development, adapting to clients' needs and innovation sum up the values we have maintained over the years.
What impact did the organization's values have on the business?
The impact has been significant. Within the firm, values have a central importance. The firm holds a retreat every two years with the entire staff. One of our favourite exercises is to review the values and mission to make sure they are still relevant. We also ensure that our strategic direction corresponds to our values, so that our daily activities will be aligned with them, as well.
Because our employees are involved in defining the values, they can see themselves in them and feel directly involved in the business.
How do the organization's values help to make EPSI's employees feel happier in their work?
Forty per cent of our staff members have more than 10 years' seniority. Are they happier than people in other organizations? I couldn't say, but when we survey them, they always give positive answers. And despite constant changes, our employees are loyal, productive and smiling. An interesting fact is that many of our former employees are now clients or contractors. A certain number of individuals who quit have also come back after a time; I believe that says a lot.
Is it fair to say that employees who share the values of the organization that employs them are more productive?
What we have seen over the years supports that. When the organization and its human resources share the same basic values, it is easier to move both of them towards principal objectives.
How did you assess an organization's values in the past, and how can it be done differently today?
When the firm was established, the values had not yet been defined. But the staff in place shared a vision of the objectives to be reached and, even if they hadn't been written down, common values emerged. When we interviewed potential employees, we asked several questions concerning values. The applicants understood our values right from the beginning. We have also observed that only employees with values similar to our organization's were able to make it through the tough times for a business that was rapidly growing and constantly changing. Today, standardized assessment tools make it possible to take our analysis much further. For example, we are now using an excellent tool; the Organizational Values Test (OVT), by which we can determine to what extent a potential employee shares the organization's values. The business must first define its values, and the report then provides individual or group comparisons on which to base analyses and make good decisions.
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