Does your organization require a pre-hire physical ability test?

Many organizations and government entities have experienced double-digit increases in healthcare and worker’s compensation costs in the last decade, with no relief in sight for those rising costs. In response, some organizations are always looking at various ways to mitigate a portion of those costs.

A pre-hire physical ability test may potentially identify that a for-hire candidate will be able to withstand the physical stress and strain of the role, which down the road, may translate into better numbers toward the bottom line.

A few bright spots in having a pre-hire physical ability test is that it may give the employer visibility that a for-hire candidate is susceptible to injury, which may lead to subsequent time off.

Again, if a candidate successfully passes the physical ability test, an employer should feel more at ease that the candidate should be able to perform the required expectations and responsibilities with greater ease and less strain, both physically and mentally. The organization should benefit as there may be a decrease in both transferred and/or restricted work time, as well as the need for workers to be absent because of injury.

A recent study looked at worker activity and found that when pre-hire ability testing was used, the number of injuries did not necessarily decrease, but the severity of the injuries incurred was significantly less, leading to less time lost by workers and less productivity lost by the business.

Even with the upside, there are some dark clouds with having a pre-hire physical ability test. One such cloud that comes to mind first for most organizations is the cost associated with each scheduled physical test. Physical ability testing can have a price tag as high as $350, and depending on your retention rate, those costs can significantly drive up your recruiting costs, which then add to the overall administrative costs associated with the program. That can start to throw a pipe wrench into the ability to capture any return on investment.

Even if you manage to hurdle many of these obstacles, you are now at the mercy of the testing facility to get your for-hire candidate in the door for the actual test. Depending on where you are geographically to include urban or rural, we have seen where it can take up to three weeks to get the candidate into the testing facility.

And with today’s very tight labor pool, that delay may just determine whether you are able to bring that candidate through the door for day one or not. Most for-hire candidates today have a choice of employers due to multiple offers on the table. Even a short delay in completing a pre-hire physical ability test can mean the difference in which offer to accept. That delay may prove to be too long of a gap, and thus your candidate chooses Company B, or worse, chooses your competitor.

So, is a pre-hire physical ability test the right fit for your organization? Is this an opportunity to not only prevent injuries and injury-related costs, but to ensure that you are placing the right candidate to meet the physical needs of your business? The question may be worth asking.