Office Design to Improve Hiring Outcomes

Often, job seekers are interviewing for multiple companies at the same time during their job search. Not only are they trying to impress you during the interview process, but if you want them to accept your offer, you should also be trying to impress them. To obtain top talent for your open positions, there are several things to consider when trying to impress your current and prospective employees.

One way to impress prospective employees is to create a physical space that people want to see themselves working in. Similar to a candidate dressing well for their interview, business owners should consider the aesthetics of their workplace, and how it impacts current and potential employees. Working in a bland office versus a tastefully designed office within your brand aesthetic could be the deciding factor for a potential candidate.

Why Does It Work?

A pleasing workplace design can benefit you and your employees in many ways. Being in an organized, well-designed space make you feel good while you work, leading to increased productivity and job satisfaction.

  • Increased Productivity: A nonfunctional, cluttered, boring, or outdated workplace can be distracting to employees, leading to decreased productivity. An organized space especially leads to increased productivity, as less time is spent shuffling through mess to find what you need to complete a task.
  • Happier Employees: Morale can be boosted simply by improving the design of your workplace to make it a more desirable place to be. This includes a color scheme and décor. Certain colors tend to have different effects on people, so choose colors that make employees feel the way you want them to.
  • Improved Retention Rates: Happier employees who enjoy spending time in the place they work at are more likely to stay. By improving your office design to make it a place employees enjoy being, they’re less likely to want to leave.
  • Customer Impression: The focus here is on your employees but making improvements to your office’s design doesn’t stop there. A clean and inviting office space also gives a good impression to customers visiting your business.

How to Improve Your Office’s Design

You know the importance of a well thought out office design, so what elements can you incorporate to make it happen? There are many components your business can consider when trying to spruce up your space to impress potential and current employees.

  • Open concept office designs and shared workspaces continue to be popular, and work well when it is time to collaborate. Within these spaces, however, it is important for there to be places where employees can work independently and focus on their individual tasks without distraction when they choose to. When it is possible, designating permanent personal workspaces and allowing employees to add photos and other personal décor can also lead to increased job satisfaction.
  • Create spaces to embrace mindfulness and wellbeing. Studies have shown that overall wellbeing of employees increases when workspaces include natural features. Consider adding greenery throughout the workplace, spaces designed specifically for relaxation, and outdoor spaces. If outdoor space isn’t an option, find ways to feature natural light whenever possible.
  • More organization, less clutter. In addition to an organized space being a more productive space, it also leads to a cleaner space. Clutter can impact anxiety levels and ability to focus, which leads to unhappy and less productive employees.

Contact Stang Decision Systems

Before you can impress potential hires with your office design, you need to get the top talent for your business. Contact Stang Decision Systems to make smarter hiring choices.

By |2022-08-22T14:03:43-04:00September 2nd, 2022|Research|0 Comments

Job Creation and Hiring Continues to Increase Into the Fall of 2021

As we continue to navigate how the coronavirus pandemic has affected the economy, working status, and personal lives, members of our modern society are seeing different options for how to function in the world. With more people working and attending classes either partially or fully remote, hiring and retention in the workplace are looking more and more different. 

In the early phases of the pandemic, we saw unemployment rise to staggering levels that have essentially not been witnessed by the majority of our society ever before. However, as we push on and adapt to this ever-changing social and professional environment, the development of new jobs and hiring numbers are soaring. In the last few months, over a million jobs have been added — with 850,000 of those being developed by America’s employers in June alone, and these numbers are still growing.

Springing Back From Peak Unemployment

The job market itself is looking quite different than it has before as well. The market is saturated with well-qualified individuals who are looking for work either in their fields or taking this time to transition into new fields. In the early phases of the pandemic, there were not nearly enough open positions to fill with these professionals. As employers are creating new job openings each month in 2021, folks are beginning to find their place in the professional world again.

Why Are More Jobs Becoming Available?

Although the Delta variant has forced many communities, especially those that are highly traveled and have strong tourism industries, to reevaluate their restrictions, many places across the country are starting to see a powerful rebound back from the pandemic’s economic recession. Capacity restrictions in many indoor settings have been restored to nearly pre-pandemic levels, allowing for more hiring within restaurants, retail, sporting events, and concerts. With restrictions in many places loosening, travel by airplane each day is sitting at around 80% of its pre-pandemic traffic levels. 

Many companies found the silver lining in the pandemic and took the opportunity with lower business to renovate and remodel. This has been a benefit to construction workers and other infrastructure assessment companies, and with newly refurbished spaces, productivity has increased alongside the ability to bring on more individuals to work for the company. This is a huge benefit to many of the companies that were initially threatened by restrictions associated with the pandemic. 

The Strength of Our Recovery

Our transition into a stronger economy is clear in the recovery from our recent pandemic-associated recession. As President Joe Biden is quoted, “The strength of our recovery is helping us flip the script… instead of workers competing with each other for jobs that are scarce, employers are competing with each other to attract workers.” In reality, this is how a capitalist corporate structure should indeed operate, and in its ideal operation, employers should have the need and ability to hire up the entire pool of those applying to work. This is a sign of a strong industrial system and booming economy. Numbers for this fall are also showing favor for hourly rates to rise faster than the pre-pandemic annual pace. New hires are gaining full-time work, and the number of those who have to settle for part-time work has reduced as well. 

Overall, the current administration and operation of corporations seem to be bringing the economy to a satisfactory and safe level from the pandemic and associated recession. We have positive growth in the future as we continue to adapt to working and living in a society recovering from and still in many ways dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.

By |2021-10-01T10:13:54-04:00October 1st, 2021|News, Research|0 Comments

Four Turnover Triggers That Could Be Hurting Your Bottom Line

It’s normal to have employees leave your business on occasion. People often need to leave due to relocation, familial responsibilities, and other life events that may be completely unrelated to your business. However, if your employee turnover rate (calculated as the percentage of employees who leave in a given time frame) has begun to skyrocket, you likely have a problem.

The financial cost of a high turnover rate can be substantial, with some estimates exceeding $4,100 per hourly employee or as many as 9 months of a salaried employee’s pay. Worse, you’ll need to spend additional time focused on hiring and your employees often wind up shouldering the additional responsibilities and stress of fewer employees. To combat high turnover, however, you’ll need to find out why so many of your employees are leaving.

Why Do Employees Leave?

A high turnover rate can be indicative of a number of issues within your organization. Though these issues can – and do – vary by industry, there are multiple common factors most businesses with high turnover rates share. We’ve compiled a list of the top major causes of employee loss and what you can do to remedy them:

  1. Employees feel burned out. A recent survey by Asana found 82% of employees felt overworked and burned out. Even if these employees don’t choose to leave your organization, overwork can lead to increased absenteeism and declining productivity. To fix it, pinpoint the cause of overwork, whether it’s understaffing, poor training, or volume; then, determine if you need to increase hiring efforts or simply offer help to struggling employees.
  2. Employees feel unengaged or unchallenged. Sometimes, employees experience the opposite effect – a lack of challenging work or even a disconnect with the purpose behind their work. If your employees don’t feel their work has meaning for your organization or feel their skill set is underused, they may seek employment somewhere that engages and appreciates them more. Check-in with employees frequently to assess their level of engagement with their current duties and recognize achievements as they occur.
  3. Negative workplace culture. While culture can be a difficult aspect to nail down, it’s at its most apparent when it’s driving your employees away. If your culture doesn’t fit your employees, morale will dip, current talent will leave, and new hires won’t last. Actively address signs that your workplace culture is veering toward the negative, re-evaluate the way you and other managers engage with staff, and endeavor to truly listen to each and every employee and their concerns.
  4. Hiring ill-fitting employees. Poorly matched employees can come in many forms – sometimes they just don’t mesh with your existing culture. Sometimes, employees don’t have the skills, drive, or personality fit necessary to be successful on the job. If your employee selection process doesn’t include fully validated measurement tools customized for each job, you are missing an opportunity to maximize employee fit for each role.

Turnover rates don’t have to damage your bottom line. Making changes to the way you handle your current employees as well as search for and screen for qualified hires can help you find and retain employees who will do their best work for your business. On many occasions we have seen motivated clients reduce turnover by 75% or more in a matter of months. It’s not easy, but it’s well worth the effort.


By |2020-07-13T11:04:28-04:00July 13th, 2020|Careers, Research|0 Comments

Five Unique Ways to Widen Your Candidate Pool

Finding qualified candidates can be a challenge, especially when it seems like the same types of people are throwing their hat in the ring. The following tips can help you approach the hiring process from a new direction, realize new opportunities to widen your candidate pool, and ultimately streamline your hiring process.

A more diverse candidate pool means more options, and that means higher chances of finding an experienced and dedicated long-term employee.

Attract more candidates to your open positions while increasing the chances of filling those positions with the most qualified applicants by leveraging these tips:

Highlight Your Company Culture

One of the most important ways an organization can widen their candidate pool is to simply be transparent. Job seekers in today’s business world are looking for much more than just competitive compensation and benefits packages. They want to be part of a company that resonates with them on a personal level. Company culture plays a vital role in the hiring process.

According to a Deloitte study, 94% of executives and 88% of employees believe strongly that a distinct company culture is vital to a business’s success.

Think of the aspects of your company culture, your workplace, and your team that make your brand unique, then leverage these as selling points when you post job listings and interview potential candidates.

Expand Your Hiring Criteria

Hiring can be difficult, and that’s why many companies are simply turning to recruiting services to handle it for them. In fact, about 40% of U.S. companies have turned to recruitment process outsourcers to find new candidates.

Consider the positions you’re trying to fill and think carefully about whether your posted criteria are too stringent. By lowering your hiring requirements a bit, you could be opening up your potential candidate pool by a wide margin.

Launch a Social Media Recruitment Campaign

The business world has a firm foothold in social media. Regardless of legalities, about 70% of employers use social media to screen potential employees.

Virtually everyone has some kind of online profile, so why not try to forge some meaningful connections with potential applicants?

Work with your marketing team or with your outsourced hiring specialists to come up with an effective social media strategy that targets people who resonate strongly with your company’s mission and values.

Get Creative With Job Postings

The average corporate job posting will attract about 250 applicants, but the company will likely only call a handful of those applicants for an interview.

Review the job postings you currently have open and try to read them from a job seeker’s perspective.

Does it read as a standard job posting, or does it offer potential candidates something unique? What type of language does it use? Are compensation and benefits details thorough and enticing?

Experimenting with new forms of job postings can have excellent results.

Work With a Talent Analytics Firm

After widening the pool, you need a process for finding the best applicant among a sea similar candidates. Investing in a new hire is both time consuming and expensive, so doing it right the first time can boost your efficiency and your bottom line. One way to make your hiring processes better is by using a talent analytics firm.

Find candidates who are suited to the position, fit in with company culture, and are in it for the long haul.

These tips can help your company rethink your hiring strategy and not only attract more candidates, but also increase the number of applications you receive from candidates who align with your company’s values, mission, and culture.


By |2021-10-27T22:28:54-04:00December 16th, 2019|Research, Updates|0 Comments

Five Recruiting Metrics You Should Know About

Recruitment metrics – the data behind your hiring lessons – outline which hiring methods are working for you and which aren’t.

Without assessing the value of your recruitment tactics as well as the performance of your new hire, you could be destined to repeat past mistakes – and that’s a price you pay from your bottom line.

The actual costs of hiring an employee vary depending on the industry and the employee level, but, on average, companies pay about $2,000 per new hire. And that’s just the onboarding process–interviewing and hiring costs add even more.

The point here is simple: the wrong hire can cost your business a lot of time and cash.

Which Recruitment Metrics Should Earn Your Attention?

Countless recruitment metrics are available to recruiters. You could get dizzy just trying to narrow them down from a Google search. However, leveraging these metrics can help ensure you make the best decision during the hiring process so that you don’t have to go through the process again. We’ve gathered a list of the most important metrics to consider and some information on how to measure each.

1. Quality of Your Hires

If you want to know the future, look to the past. Your business has a treasure trove of past data when it comes to hiring – your current and previous employees.

With a Quality of Hires metric, you’re not aiming at determining the general ability of your hire to do their job; instead, you’ll learn how effective your recruiting practices are at finding candidates who accept your job offer and are loyal to your company.

There are many ways to calculate Quality of Hire data. As an example, when using HireScore, we will send an email survey to the hiring manager or appropriate supervisor one year after an employee was hired. In about two minutes, we will collect ratings on the person’s overall performance, technical performance, team orientation and safety.

We summarize our survey with a simple question asking whether you would hire the person again. If yes, then we code the person as a successful hire. If no, then something went wrong and we use the data to learn from past mistakes.

2. Source of Your Hires

Most companies recruit in multiple arenas and use a number of search methods to find candidates. With today’s recruitment sources running the gamut from physical job boards and newspapers to social media and current employee referrals, it is more important than ever to know which sources are providing you with quality hires who are loyal to your company.

Whether tracking in HireScore or simply using a spreadsheet, you should be recording the sources of each hire as well as which candidates were rejected or shortlisted.

Analysis of each will tell you which resources are delivering and which are underperforming. This information can help you make better decisions regarding where to invest your time and money the next time you’re recruiting.

3. Time to Fill the Position

Time to fill is, simply, the amount of time elapsed between the listing of the position and the date of hire. While this metric is fairly straightforward, it can reveal a great deal about the efficacy of your recruitment resources as well as your productivity and efficiency.

Which sources tend to quickly produce good candidates? Which factors produce a bottleneck effect on your process? Time to fill can help you answer these questions and more.

4. Turnover

For some positions, the key metric to determine the success of your selection process is simply whether new hires stay in the job for a given period of time. If you are hiring summer help at an amusement park, you want to know if the person is going to last the full summer.

In some cases, you might even prefer to hire a person who may not perform the job as well but who is more likely to stay in the job.

To calculate turnover, take the percentage of employees who leave (for any reason) in a specified period of time and divide it by the total number of employees that you had in that role during the same period of time.

While turnover is a valuable metric, it is important to understand the context as well. If you lose 5% of your employees, but they are the bottom 5%, then turnover is actually a good thing.

In jobs with a high burnout rate, such as pro football coaching, some turnover is inevitable and is not necessarily a sign of failure. If, on the other hand, you are hiring sandwich makers at a fast food franchise and less than half of them stay for a month, then turnover should be your primary focus.

5. Cost Per Hire

While hiring better tends to have an extreme ROI, often in the hundreds or even thousands of percent, it is still useful to track up front investments. Determining which recruitment tactics are successful and which aren’t from a cost perspective is a key performance indicator.

At a minimum, any assessment or interview should have a significant positive ROI or it’s not worth doing. Tracking cost per hire allows you to determine where your recruiting budget is best spent and justifies your hiring related investments over time.

Calculate cost per hire by adding your total external and internal costs – including advertising, SaaS subscription fees, and cost to sustain recruitment staff – then divide by the number of hires the process produced.

Hire Better With These Metrics

While these five recruitment metrics are certainly not the only metrics you should be tracking to assess your performance, they are among the most important. Whether you’re most recent hiring decisions have proven successful, mediocre, or ill-fated, deeper insight into the many factors that led to each hire should be a key component in your next recruitment endeavor.


By |2019-12-02T10:31:10-05:00December 9th, 2019|Research, Updates|1 Comment

Why You Should Ignore the Resume

The digital age has disrupted virtually every industry. HR and hiring has been similarly vulnerable – the industry has, in recent years, experienced a seismic shift.

Research shows that resumes, traditionally the first-line approach to “getting your foot in the door,” are no longer the most popular form of currency in the hiring process.

In their place are a combination of online application and assessment processes that provide up to four times the information, and a better experience for both the applicant and the hiring team.

Before you lament the demise of the resume, consider these reasons why resumes are becoming obsolete in the first place.

1. They Value Experience, Not Skills

By virtue of their design, resumes focus on a person’s work experience, not necessarily their skill set. Is this such a bad thing? In today’s talent economy, yes. A candidate is, and should be, offered employment based on their ability to fulfill a job description and perform essential job duties.

Focusing on the potential results that a person can generate requires a full understanding of their capabilities, which doesn’t necessarily translate on a resume.

2. They’re Static Documents

In a technology-driven age, workers must continually acquire new skills to stay current and provide value to employers. Since technology – and how we use it – is always changing, job seekers across industries must frequently update their resumes to reflect new skills in new formats.

Resumes become outdated quickly and become too cumbersome to continually update.

3. Resumes Are Too Much Work

A close friend recently took a day off of work to create a new resume for her dream job. While she may be more of a perfectionist than most, consider the time people spend (waste!) making a document perfectly reflect an image that may or may not be accurate.

New hires who have gone through the HireScore (no resume required) process often say, “I was happily employed elsewhere and I wouldn’t have applied for this job if I was required to make a resume.” In essence, resumes are asking for too much, too soon in the hiring relationship.

4. Resume Sorters Miss Out on Valuable Talent

The act of requiring a resume also screens out a portion of the workforce that could provide talent to your organization. For example, many people have valuable work skills, but they lack the knowledge of how to write a resume, let alone optimize it for hiring managers.

This approach naturally caters to people who have a talent for writing resumes, not necessarily to those people who have the necessary skills to efficiently execute their work duties.

5. Resumes Invite Unintentional Bias

Lastly, the resume has the unintended consequence of inviting bias into the workplace. Research from Harvard Business School showed that minorities who “whitened” their names got more callbacks and interviews, despite no changes in skill sets or experience. The legal consequences to these research findings have yet to play out but resume defenders are unlikely to be happy with the final outcome.

Resumes may be on their way out, but what’s a job candidate or hiring manager to do in the meantime? Even LinkedIn sorts applicants by their job experience.

The bottom line is that you need to use tools that are customized exactly to your jobs and diligently collect assessment data you need to best predict future job performance. Combined with broad recruiting and intelligent algorithms, there is no better way to rank a world of potential candidates.

Most importantly, employers would do well to leverage technology and tools to find the right candidate for the job – not the candidate capable of producing the best resume.

By |2019-12-02T10:34:31-05:00December 2nd, 2019|Careers, Research|0 Comments

Are your employees in FLOW… or are they ready to FLY THE COOP?

FLOW. Another stressful HR trend to worry about? Not really. If reading this blog title caused you anxiety, then you could increase your skill (knowledge) about flow just enough to meet the level of challenge to apply what you know to your workplace. A little exercise within a blog.

If you are familiar with flow, skip to the conclusion or swipe/click away this blog. But if you haven’t heard or read about flow, or haven’t watched the TED talk by the guy who wrote the original book, you can learn about the concept fairly easily. It’s the challenge of applying what we learn that’s usually the trick…or the treat.

People in flow are said to be optimally creative, productive, and “time flies” when they’re having fun. They feel rewarded, energized, and yes, sometimes a bit drained from all of that focus…but flow, caused by the ideal intersection of the relevant skills to meet the appropriate level of challenge, causes growth, and increases the person’s desire to continue to grow. It’s a nice cycle.

How does this apply to your workplace? We’d be curious to hear your thoughts in comments on this blog. At Stang Decision Systems, when we’re assessing for skill gaps for our clients, we uncover areas where people are under-skilled for their jobs to help the company plan for efficient training and development. If we consider this through the lens of the flow diagram, we see that these employees are likely experiencing anxiety and are not in their optimal flow zone, where creativity and productivity are at their highest. Would the training investment, if appropriately scaled, pay off more than you imagine?

We hear more and more about how younger generations are asking for training and mentoring in the workplace, often ranking that higher than other benefits companies are investing in for their workers. Could it be that these employees know what it feels like to have the appropriate skill level/support to meet the appropriate levels of challenge in their daily activities, and they are eager to continue to grow? When thinking about retention, how do we feel about the fact that many employees leave their jobs for new workplaces where they receive more training, and, we might suggest, they feel more “in flow?”

In future posts, we’ll discuss how flow affects workplaces, including the research on the flow of successful events, teams, and organizations as a whole. We’ll also address questions left in the comments section and share your successful applications of flow in the workplace.

By |2018-03-07T16:37:20-05:00November 27th, 2017|Research|0 Comments

Job Descriptions – how do they fit in the changing talent picture?

“Bill D. is retiring, finally. He kept talking about it but we never thought he’d make the decision. Such a great department manager, he will be missed! Oh…right…I guess we need to look for a replacement! Can you ask Sally in HR to give me a copy of the job description?”

This may be simplified, and yes, widget company leader should have had a succession plan in place. That’s for another blog post. However, this scene plays out in companies all over the country, and all over the world, on a daily basis. Whether it’s a retirement, unfortunate illness, poor performance, or resignation (gasp!) for another job…we all know that moment where we have to think about filling a vacancy. If it’s been held by the incumbent for any length of time, we probably haven’t updated the job description. If we have annual reviews, they may be tied to the job description, but that is not a given.

How does the job description translate to the job posting? The search criteria? If handled properly, a search will include assessing for skills, knowledge, and experience as well as personality, behaviors and aptitude. Simply listing a set of “required” and “minimum” qualifications does not ensure a well-matched applicant pool. What if there were science behind the job description? Science that helped your company not only recruit for a great fit, but measure performance and offer training gap analysis on a regular basis?

There is hard evidence based on long-standing research on which facets of personality and behavior traits best fit certain types of jobs. When you customize for work environment and industry, as well as variances in each job’s responsibilities and duties, you make a big difference in being able to be more specific up front (in recruiting and onboarding) and being better able to communicate and coach more clearly all along the way.

Hmmm… coaching, communication, training – have you heard those words thrown around lately regarding “what matters to the next generations of employees”? Your employees are tired of standard issue tools and performance evaluations of times past. They want someone to see them. To really notice them as individuals. To want them for the job for who they really are, and to help them develop their strengths and overcome their challenges to make a difference in their job and their career.

Still want to photocopy the old job description, send it to HR, and then hand it to the new hire? Be prepared to keep it handy, you might have a vacancy again fairly soon!

To try a new idea, which is actually even simpler, work with a firm that has done the research and can lead you through to customized job searches and descriptions. We’d be happy to talk with you in a confidential consultation, free of charge. We enjoy seeing the relief in using a more accurate process lead to happy companies and employees!

By |2018-03-07T16:37:20-05:00June 6th, 2017|Careers, News, Research|0 Comments

Choice-Supportive Bias Gives False Confidence to Your Hiring Decisions

By Wendy Beach, VP of Talent Science Solutions at Stang Decision Systems

Spoiler alert: here comes some real-life science to distract you from the daily news! In all seriousness…there is beauty, I’ve found, in the science behind what helps our company match people to jobs and jobs to people.

Because it’s good to understand why we do things a bit differently, this blog on choice-supportive bias is our first in a series of discussing the relevant cognitive biases which prevent many people from making good hiring decisions.

Once we make a choice, we have the tendency to support that choice (dig in our heels, close our minds, stick our heads in the sand…insert your favorite saying here) even if it doesn’t make sense in the face of new information. Industrial psychologists call this choice-supportive bias, and it is one of many cognitive biases that affect our decisions.

I would argue that choice-supportive bias has become even more significant as our world has become more competitive and information leading to constant decisions is available at an ever-increasing pace.

What!? Isn’t it a contradiction to say that in an increasingly fast-paced and competitive business world the “status quo” is becoming even more ingrained in our personal and professional lives? I’d argue we are living in a world of “revolving status quo.” In other words, we try even harder to maintain normalcy and consistency in certain parts of our lives because other parts are changing so quickly.

The two main reasons for this are: (1) the increase in disruption via information and technology available at any moment; and (2) choice-supportive bias. The information and technology pushes us to change, and choice-supportive bias pushes us to lock in previous choices. The conflict between the two leads to pockets of rapid change and pockets of locked-in behavior. Oddly, this implies that rapid change in many areas of business run parallel to systems that may be archaic or obsolete.

Anyone in business, from manufacturing to service, has every moment of the day filled with constant choices and decisions. Since our company is focused on talent, I’m going to simplify this conversation (whew!) and emphasize the importance of resisting choice-supportive bias when attracting, retaining and developing talent. Specifically, I’m going to use the resume as a shining example of how cognitive biases can ultimately reduce decision accuracy.

“Eyeball to eyeball and a handshake.” Does anyone else feel a bit of nostalgia for the times when this was the way you decided if a person was a good fit for your team? In the 1940’s, believe it or not, the resume was a new trend, and it typically included weight, age, height, marital status, and religion (not very PC!). It became popular as companies grew and roles became more skilled or specialized. Resumes also helped as workers had more types of work experience and more geographic mobility. For a time, this was an improvement that made a lot of sense.

The reality of today, however, is quite different. In this fast-paced world, most people do not want to spend hours crafting the perfect resume. What if a good candidate simply doesn’t use the right keywords, or has a job title or education that doesn’t describe his or her full skill set? What if some candidates pay graphic artists and editors to make their resumes shine in a way that others never will?

From the perspective of the hiring manager, who wants (or has time) to spend hours sorting through hundreds of resumes–or worse–resumes with cover letters? Hiring managers and human resources staff are often faced with mountains of paper and/or electronic documents in varying formats, fonts, and length. Nonetheless, thanks in part to choice-supportive bias, the resume has become the default tool for evaluating candidates. Resume, cover letter, status quo, check.

When a “new” idea came along in the not-too-distant past to allow technology to help us with the tedious task of going through resumes, we didn’t start from scratch and look at what computers and data could truly do to elevate the process. Instead we, as a society, collectively held on to the “status quo” while adding an electronic layer. Our “choice-supportive bias” resume protocol was still intact, and the document was simply stored on a computer.

Resume parsing, keyword searching, arbitrary cut-offs of grade point averages…those were all born of using a computer to get through big stacks of documents faster. Did that increase our odds of a great fit? Actually, even though electronic applicant systems were perceived to increase efficiency, they quickly become talent pool limiters, and often increase inefficiencies when it comes to finding the most suitable candidates for a job. There are many internet forums that focus on how much candidates hate applicant tracking systems, and internal human resources staff tend to agree.

What if we used computers and data to help us get to know people better as a first step in a hiring process, not simply weed them out? Can computers really help us be MORE human?

You’ve probably guessed by now that using technology to make the hiring process more accurate and more “human” is our focus at Stang Decision Systems. Our clients are bypassing resumes altogether and working with new ways to see their candidates as a complete person. Curious how? We’d be happy to show you.

When the resume step is eliminated, we start to wonder why we held on to it for so long. Could it be that we’re simply human, with some pesky choice-supportive bias? I think so, but I’d love to hear other theories.

As with any limiting quality, we should not expect to be other than human, or beat ourselves up over it. What we can do, as intelligent decision makers, is become more aware of our biases and search for ways to overcome them. The human brain has a wonderful autopilot mode, but when decisions are truly important, we need to take the wheel and steer toward better options. That is truly progress beyond the status quo!

By |2018-03-07T16:37:20-05:00February 27th, 2017|Research, Updates|1 Comment

Sports Analytics Field Trip

By Scott Birkeland, Ph.D., Vice President of Stang Decision Systems

I recently attended the Midwest Sports Analytics Meeting in Pella, Iowa. Thanks to Russ Goodman and Central College for putting together fun and informative sessions. This conference not only gave me an excuse to hang out with my former college roommate (St. Thomas math professor Eric Rawdon), but it also allowed me to see, first-hand, some of the cutting-edge research that is taking place in the field of sports analytics.


Eric Rawdon and me at the Central College entrance (I’m on the left).

During the conference, I attended a variety of presentations. Some of the topics included measuring how teams deliver value to fans, an analysis of strike zone errors in MLB, ways to differentiate offensive explosiveness vs. offensive efficiency in college football, software that helps coaches create data-driven practice plans, and several talks that used NFL play-by-play information to analyze tactical decisions (e.g. win probability at various points in a game, fourth down decisions, field goal accuracy, etc.).

All very interesting and thought provoking topics (at least to me!).

As I reflect on the conference, one of the big takeaways I have relates to decision-making and why it is that those involved with sports teams often don’t use the information that is available for them to make optimal decisions. An example that was frequently discussed during the conference is the debate in football about “going for it on fourth down.” Historically, coaches have preferred to punt on fourth down, even though, in many situations, the data suggests that they shouldn’t.

With all the analytics that are now available it is surprising how often teams go against what the data say they should do. This is true for more than just “going for it on fourth down.” It is true for drafting strategy, negotiating player contracts, preventing injuries, and developing optimal practice plans–just to name a few.

Throughout the conference, I had several discussions with folks around why teams do not consistently use analytics to their advantage. A couple of reasons were repeatedly mentioned.

First, people who are coaching and/or managing teams often have a sports background, but not a math/statistics/analytical background. Because of this, they do not necessarily understand the methodology behind the numbers. And, given their role as a leader, they must be able to convince their team why they are taking the actions they do. If the leader of the team doesn’t understand the data or how it was generated, it becomes more difficult to inspire the team to act based on that information. Coaches tend to rely on what they know best, which often means doing what they’ve always done and not using analytics.

Second, many pointed out that because coaches’ decisions are so closely scrutinized (especially in major professional sports) that if they make a non-traditional decision, they leave themselves open for significant criticism from fans and the media–even if the decision, from a data analytics perspective, is the correct one. Therefore, it is often easier and more comforting to make decisions based the way it has always been done rather than do something different. As one person put it, “it is hard to get overly criticized for doing something that everyone has been doing for the last fifty years.”

From a coach’s perspective, I can appreciate these reasons. At the same time, I also realize that it is important to utilize any advantage that you might have, even if it is something that might stretch your comfort zone. I believe that we all need to question the way things have been done (whether you are working for a sports team, a Fortune 100 company, or a mom and pop company) to see if there is a different strategy that gives you a greater likelihood of succeeding.

At its core, that is what data analytics does. It allows end users to gain competitive insights. Oftentimes, these insights contradict conventional wisdom. In my view, this should be viewed as an opportunity rather than a threat!

By |2018-03-07T16:37:20-05:00December 1st, 2016|News, Research|1 Comment