Tests are not usually described as “fun” or something you’re “looking forward to.” Whether you’re looking to join a new company or you’ve been around for a while, you will most likely encounter a test or two along the way. You’ll often encounter workplace assessments when the organization is gauging your knowledge on certain subjects or wants see where you’re a good fit. For those administering the test, you want to set up your employees with the knowledge and skills they need to be successful in the workplace (of course!).
Before we jump any further into how you can help alleviate assessment stress, it’s important to remember that there are both pros and cons to conducting an assessment in your workplace. There are many different kinds of workplace assessments with many different purposes, but no matter what the subject of the assessment is, stress is bound to pop up for some employees. With that, let’s jump into how you can set up your employees for success.
Clarify why the assessment is being conducted
Be specific in your reasoning you are conducting the assessment. While your employees know that they’re not in school, the stress of tests still remains in many of us (I know it does for me). Explain to your employees why the organization is administering the assessment, and what will be done with the results from each employee.
For example, if you work in a warehouse or a similar environment, you’ll probably have to take an assessment about OSHA guidelines. Explain the purpose clearly: in this type of environment, you’re using a lot of expensive and dangerous equipment. Making sure you know the rules and regulations of OSHA in this environment means everyone can do their best to stay safe and keep others safe. No matter the new employee’s background experience, this should be thoroughly explained when bringing up the test.
Give them time
Give your employees enough time where they can find some availability in their schedule to prepare and take the assessment. Everyone has their own responsibilities and various tasks, so giving people a fair time period to take the assessment is ideal. Nothing feels as stressful as an exam that’s being administered in a short time frame. Also take this opportunity to consider when you’re sending this assessment out: if it’s towards the end of the month, that might not be ideal for your colleagues in the sales department. Or if you’re considering doing it at the end of the year, consider doing it before the winter holidays make everyone busy. The last thing anyone wants to do is to take an assessment on Christmas eve.
Be detailed in your instructions
Make sure your participants know ahead of time and are reminded on the beginning page about the accepted rules while taking the assessment. Here are some questions that you can answer to make sure the instructions are as clear as possible:
- Is it open book?
- Is it timed?
- Is there an expiration date for the assessment?
- Can you retake the assessment?
This will help your employees and colleagues understand the expectations when taking the assessment, so that there isn’t any worry about if they’re inadvertently breaking the rules.
Provide all appropriate information before the assessment is administered, ideally in multiple instances: in the first notice or invitation to the assessment, the front page of the assessment, and any other opportunity you may find.
Provide the score and relevant information after completion
Any assessment can be agonizing enough, but it’s even worse to have to wait for your score to come back. In school this has a purpose: sometimes the teacher needs time to grade the test (if it’s on paper, of course), and this is also used to discourage cheating.
When you’re taking an assessment in your workplace, you probably won’t be taking the test on paper and waiting for the scantron to score your assessment. Or you won’t have to wait for your manager to grade all of the papers in the back of the office (at least, I hope not). Give the score and any other information as soon as possible. Maybe you’ll consider showing which questions they got right and wrong, so that way they have time to reflect on the answers.
Consider sharing assessment results instantly, and/or follow-up with those who took the exam to go over the results: talk about the good and the bad. Take the opportunity to make the wrong answers a learning experience. You can give them time to reflect about their performance on their own before your follow-up if you decided to show them the right and wrong answers immediately after. The follow-up also should be a positive experience: take the time to go through the answers and the thought processes behind these answers. Talking through these thought-processes will encourage sharing and learning from mistakes and/or misconceptions. You know what they say: failure is the greatest teacher (yes, I am using a quote from Yoda from Star Wars: The Last Jedi)!
If you follow these things, I can’t promise that assessment stress will magically disappear, but it will (hopefully) not be as prominent as it once was. There are other methods to help alleviate stress, or even rethink stress! A great way to see how your employees feel about your new approach to assessments can be measured with an employee experience solution. Get constant feedback about what worked, what needs work, and everything in-between.