Retention rates have remained a top concern for businesses since the start of the Great Resignation a few years ago. And those worries don’t seem to be going away anytime soon. This is in part because it’s still a candidate’s market: there are more jobs available than people looking to fill them. So when it comes to keeping your business humming along smoothly, retaining your employees becomes paramount.
That’s because when you’re able to increase the tenure of your employees, you’re tackling staffing issues on three fronts. First, you reduce the need for constant hiring, freeing up your management team to focus their resources on guiding and supporting their direct reports. Second, you improve the efficiency of your team by keeping valuable knowledge from walking out the door and forcing you to retrain someone new. And finally, you’re decreasing the risk of burnout, since employees often have to shoulder the responsibilities of their ex-colleagues on top of their main duties.
But whether or not someone will stay with your company long term is largely left up to chance, right? Wrong. Research supports the idea that it is possible to improve your retention rate from the jump by improving your hiring process. How? By including personality assessments as a part of your hiring process.
Using Personality Assessments in Hiring
There are quantifiable benefits to understanding the specific personality traits of your candidate prior to making your hiring decision. Personality assessments enable you to see if a candidate’s nature is well-suited to the role they’ve applied to – without even hiring them.
By including personality testing early in your hiring process, you’re better able to predict how comfortable a candidate will be in the role. And when the someone’s personality meshes well with the role they’re in, we see stronger performance and higher job satisfaction. Both of these play directly into longer employee tenure and stronger retention.
How Personality Predicts Performance
When it comes to the predictive nature of personality testing, valid assessments focus only on stable (ie, unlikely to change much throughout a person’s life) job-relevant traits. One of the best supported models of personality is that of the Big Five, also known as Five Factor Model which has decades of research to demonstrate its reliability in predicting workplace behavior and performance.
These five traits – Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, Openness, Stress Tolerance, and Extraversion – and their derivatives directly inform a person’s workplace motivations, preferred interaction style, competencies, and tendencies. By understanding where a candidate falls on the scales of these five key traits, you can gain insight into whether or not the role they’ve applied for resonates with their core personality.
Let’s illustrate this idea: someone who is extroverted, highly achievement-motivated, and self-confident is more likely to be comfortable (and successful) as a salesperson compared to someone who is introverted, highly accommodating, and relaxed. That’s not to say that the second person couldn’t succeed as a salesperson, but rather that the traits that tend to align with success in a sales role (tenacious pursuit of goals, comfortable doing cold-calls, etc) may grind against their natural preferences.
Of these five traits, research supports that conscientiousness has the strongest predictive power, predicting performance across all job types and at all job levels. The other four traits are helpful at predicting comfort in more specific roles. For example, when it comes to customer service positions, conscientiousness is the best personality-related predictor of future job success, but agreeableness and openness are also positively correlated with strong performance in customer service roles.
Keep in mind that personality should only be considered as an additional datapoint for objectively evaluating your candidates. Personality assessments are most powerful when they are used in tandem with other predictive methods of employee selection, like cognitive aptitude assessments and structured interviews.
How Personality Impacts Job Satisfaction
When a person’s personality is well-suited to the job that they have, they are more likely to find higher levels of job satisfaction than employees whose personality traits don’t align closely with comfort in the role. This makes sense – when you come to sit down at your desk each day and find that the work you’re doing feels natural and aligns with how you operate best, you’re going to enjoy your job more.
Obviously, there are more factors at play in job satisfaction than just personality – company culture, managerial style, and work environment all play an important role in increasing on-the-job happiness. Nonetheless, this personality-derived increase in job satisfaction has causes a flurry of downstream benefits, both for the employee and the employer. When people are happier at work, they are more engaged and therefore more productive, driving 2.5 times more revenue than less engaged workers. Satisfied employees are more collaborative with their colleagues and committed to your organization, making them more likely to stay for longer.
Understanding Personality and Employee Retention
If your goal is to increase the retention rates of your new hires, including personality assessments may help you achieve it. Personality testing can help you identify which candidates are most likely to be comfortable performing the day-to-day responsibilities of a given role, which ultimately leads to better job performance. This improved chance for on-the-job success results in an increase in the overall job satisfaction that your employee experiences, which ultimately increases their tenure at your organization.