Psychological Assessments in the Workplace

Psychological assessments measure aspects of individuals behavior, personality or ability. Some examples include tests of intelligence, attention, reading and writing. Following the assessment phase, the psychologist collates the obtained data into a formal report which clearly describes their findings. Assessments such as these are commonly used for work related or legal purposes, and they do incorporate counselling or other forms of treatment.

In a workplace context, Psychological Assessments are commonly used to:

  • assess the suitability of candidates during the recruitment process,
  • determine whether an employee can return to work following an injury, or
  • assess whether a current employee is mentally fit for work.

Recruitment Assessments

Hiring the wrong candidate for a job can have devastating consequences for a business. Indeed, replacing an employee has been shown to cost up to 1.5 times their annual salary (Wagner, 2000). Thus, psychological assessments can be useful in determining whether a job applicant is suitable for a role. This is typically achieved by assessing their intelligence and aptitude, and in some cases a candidate’s personality to ensure they are the right fit for the culture of the organisation.

Return to Work Assessments

Psychological assessments can also be used to determine the extent to which a person is experiencing psychological difficulty following a physical or psychological injury (e.g. work-related stress). Typically, the process of assessment and counselling following an injury is managed by relevant worker’s compensation insurance companies. It is however possible for an organisation to make private arrangements to obtain a psychological assessment for this purpose.

Once an assessment has been undertaken, interventions are typically recommended to assist the employee in returning to work, which may include psychological treatment and/or changes to the workplace or the employee’s role. Prompt responses by employers to such recommendations has been shown to significantly improve return to work outcomes (SWA, 2014).

Fit for Work Assessments

An employee’s poor mental health can compromise their performance at work, as well as the work of those around them. This is particularly the case in employment positions involving high levels of stress and risk, such as the work of police officers, the military, public transport drivers or roles requiring employees to operate heavy machinery.

In some cases, employers can lawfully direct an employee to undertake a psychological assessment to determine if they are fit for work (Thompson v IGT Pty Ltd Federal Court of Australia 2008). In that case, Thompson had a long term history of back pain and had taken extensive and unexplained leave from work. The court held that his employer was within its rights to demand a psychological assessment in order to explain his absences, comply with its own WHS obligations, and determine whether or not Mr. Thompson was capable of fulfilling his duties.

Fit for work assessments can help to gain an understanding of what barriers are preventing employees from performing their duties, whether or not an employee should be expected to return to work, and when possible, what adjustments can be made to overcome any such barriers to a return to working life.

Ordering a Psychological Assessment

We work with Forensic & Clinical Psychologists to provide expert assessment and qualified opinion in the area of psychological assessment and reporting. Contact us today for a quote.

References

Wagner, Stacey. “Retention: Finders, Keepers.” Training & Development, Aug. 2000, p. 64. Expanded Academic ASAP, http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/A64705632/EAIM?u=usyd&sid=EAIM&xid=0243b7f0. Accessed 6 June 2018.

SWA (2014) The National Return to Work Survey: The Role of the Employer and the Workplace. Australia and New Zealand: 2013. Published by Safe Work Australia. Accessed June 2014.

http://www.ags.gov.au/publications/express-law/el76.pdf