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5 Ways To Identify And Retain Fantastic Talent with Denise Leaser & Kage Spatz

HR Strategy Series, Real Human Resources

GreatBizTools Human Resources Hiring Strategies

My mission is to help people discover their inner genius, help them get the skills they need and then connect them with jobs, careers and great opportunities so they can love what they do and have a better life.


Asa part of my HR Strategy Series, I’m talking to top experts in the field to teach prospects what hiring managers are actually looking for, while also supporting business leaders in their hiring and retention strategies. Today I had the pleasure of talking with Denise Leaser.

Denise Leaser is President of GreatBizTools, one of the world’s leading assessment companies. With products like WebAssess and MyInnerGenius, GreatBizTools is an assessment company that has a mission to help change people’s lives.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Thank you for having me! I’m excited to be here. I didn’t have a straight line from my education to my career path. After college, I started out in management and executive positions. Then my daughter was diagnosed with autism and I reevaluated a lot of things in my life, including my career. I worked with a lot of people who were unhappy. They were in the wrong jobs. I thought to myself, “This is an area where I can make a difference.” I went back to school and changed to a career in HR. My work in management gave me the practical experience to develop HR products that people will actually use and provide real results.

Can you share the most interesting or funny story that happened to you since you started this career?

Well, it’s actually a sad story, but one that everyone can relate to. I am friends with a former CHRO of a major IT company and he was telling me about a star employee they had hired. The employee was so excited to work there, came in early and left late. He was totally devoted to his job as a sales rep and was highly motivated and engaged. But he was terrible at sales. So, they fired him. Can you imagine? They had no way to properly assess his value for other roles in the company. That story stuck with me and led me to focus on a solution. That resulted in MyInnerGenius.

Are you working on any exciting new projects at your company? How is this helping people?

I am. I’m really excited about it. We’ve developed an exciting innovation called “MyInnerGenius.” IBM is using MyInnerGenius in their new SkillsBuild program to help job seekers, including those with long-term unemployment, refugees, asylum seekers, and veterans, with the training, personalized coaching and experiential learning they need to re-enter the workforce. We’re breaking down the barriers and helping to democratize the IT industry.

MyInnerGenius uses a science-based, non-biased, online assessment that goes way beyond traditional interest surveys and career aptitude tests. MyInnerGenius analyzes innate skills, abilities and personality traits — regardless of education or circumstances. In less than an hour, you receive a personalized recommendation for careers that are a perfect match. You also receive recommended training paths. About one-fifth of the world’s employees are in the wrong jobs or they don’t even realize their is a better, more meaningful career within reach. People have great skills and strengths that would be a great fit for a great career and they don’t even know it.

Great point. I think a lot of people don’t realize how well they would do in a different role. Let’s jump to the main focus of our series. Hiring can be very time consuming and difficult. Can you share 5 techniques that you use to identify the talent that would be best suited for the job you want to fill?

Most people make the mistake of relying on experience and education. They look at resumes. It doesn’t work. Worse, it can lead to bias in hiring, even unconsciously. There are a wealth of studies that show how choosing candidates based on their innate skills, abilities, and personality is a much better indicator for on-the-job success and retention. Good news is technology like prehire assessments allow hiring managers to save an incredible amount of time and provide accurate, non-biased assessments of candidates.

· First, basic screening to make sure they meet the basic job requirements. Make sure here and throughout the hiring process you are only looking at job-related information. This is a big mistake a lot of people make. Looking at non-job-related information can lead to bias and legal problems.

· Next, assess for relevant cognitive skills and abilities with a good, non-biased, validated assessment. Tools like our prehire assessment system, WebAssess, make it easy by having tests already designed for most jobs ready to go with the click of a button.

· Then, assess for personality traits to make sure they have the right personality for the job. Studies show that by combining cognitive skill and ability tests with personality trait assessments you have an almost 300% increase in incremental validity. That sounds pretty complicated — what does that mean? It means when you use both types of tests, you are going to get great results — employees who will be a better match to your jobs. That means faster onboarding, greater results on the job, employees who will stay longer — essentially, employees you will love and who will love their job.

· After that, using structured interviews makes sure you continue to screen applicants in an unbiased way, are focusing on job-related information, and are making the best use of your time. Most people don’t realize it, but because of the amount of one-on-one time involved, interviews can be the most expensive part of the hiring process. Structured interviews will save you time and money and give you better results.

· Assessing applied knowledge is essential. A knowledge test won’t tell you if that candidate can apply what they know on the job. Including programs like simulations or challenges and contests can tell you what they can do. Organizations should also develop programs that bring on new hires as apprenticeships or interns. Often it’s best to hire someone who has the skills, abilities and personality traits for the job. You can them teach them how to perform tasks specific to the role.

With so much noise and competition out there, what are your top ways to attract and engage the best talent in an industry?

Today’s workforce is motived by much more than salary. According to Zenefits, employees value company culture and mission, approachable leadership, potential job growth, work-life balance and recognition as more important than salary. Make sure you put on your marketing hat when you advertise your jobs. Make sure you use realistic descriptions of the job and make sure you emphasize how you fulfill the things employees value.

Speaking of marketing your company and jobs to prospective employees — you can even create an email sales funnel for people who have applied for jobs. Send them emails to highlight your company, its values and how it values employees. Let them know you will value them. Even if they accept another position somewhere, they’ll remember you and might come back to you if the other position doesn’t work out.

I’d also send out a survey to all applicants to find out what they liked, what they didn’t, why they chose another company, etc. This will give you good information on improving your process to attract the best people.

What are the 3 most effective strategies you see being used to retain employees?

First, you have to use good selection techniques upfront. Hiring the right people upfront is proven to reduce turnover. That’s why pre-hire assessments and structured interviews are critical in talent strategies. And big factors affecting employees leaving a company are feeling that they aren’t supported, valued, or given the right training or tools to do the job. Proper onboarding and training will make sure your employees get off the right start. Nothing is worse than dropping someone off into a job where they will get completely overwhelmed and have no idea what to do. Also, make sure you reward and recognize your employees. Valuing your employees and showing them they are valued is one of the best techniques for keeping the best people.

Something to consider in this tight labor market as it is getting harder and harder to fill positions. Consider looking at different ways to hire or, if it is appropriate for the job, offer current employees an option to work remotely. Many jobs don’t require someone to be in the same location. And today’s workforce wants to work at home. According to a Gallup poll, 37% of today’s workforce would switch to a job that allows them to work off-site at least part of the time. This is good news for companies. If companies really want a diverse workforce they need to really think seriously about looking outside their zip code and look to remote workers to expand the labor pool. It is also a way for companies to find and retain the necessary skills they need or even to just fill positions in a tight labor market. According to Remote, remote workers are more productive, more engaged and less stressed than onsite workers.

In your experience, is it important for HR to keep up with the latest trends?

Absolutely. HR has a reputation, perhaps unwarranted, for being laggards. But by staying up with the latest trends, especially in technology, HR can provide real strategic value to an organization. HR can and should help the C-suite determine how to invest, how to prepare for change, how to expand and how to compete.That requires the use of sophisticated analytics tools and other emerging technologies, like artificial intelligence. The data the HR group maintains can provide enormous value, but you have to know how to unlock it and make sense of it.

Can you give an example of a creative way to increase the value provided to employees without breaking the bank?

Matching people to the right roles is number one. You need to make sure they are in a role where they can grow and thrive. Creating a culture of continuous learning is another. Learning can be expensive, but the returns are significant. Organizations rarely quantify the cost/benefit of increased skills. Reward and incentives are surprisingly inexpensive and extremely effective. Companies like IBM and Microsoft have introduced badge programs to reward achievement. IBM has seen a significant increase in engagement, retention, and sales that correlates to its badge program.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

Too many people have been passed over because of their circumstances. They may have received a bad education or have fallen into bad circumstances. They may be in dead-end jobs. Most people don’t realize their inner potential, and they don’t realize a better life is probably within reach. My mission is to help people discover their inner genius, help them get the skills they need and then connect them with jobs, careers and great opportunities so they can love what they do and have a better life.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”?

I love and live by Charles Schulz’ philosophy: “There is no heavier burden than an unfulfilled potential.”

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have a private lunch with, and why?

Richard Branson. But I am ready to meet with anyone who wants to help people find their ways to a better life. And I’ll buy lunch.

Thank you for sharing so many valuable insights with us today!

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