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Increasing productivity painlessly

New software from U of C instructor helps match jobs with the perfect candidates

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Piers Steel is ready for employers to implement a new system aimed to increase workforce productivity and happiness-- without anyone working harder.

Synthetic Validity is a program developed by the University of Calgary associate professor and his colleagues that matches candidates with jobs they would excel at.

"We are now in the position where we can take a huge leap forward in matching your particular talents, your particular interests and skills, to what jobs are out there," said Steel.

The best-selling author believes that by taking an in-depth look at a job, one can better understand what type of worker is best suited for that position.

"Everybody would have a good idea of what type of work that, not only they would be good at, but that they would love," said Steel. "Employers would have a good idea whether someone really fits for the job, whether they like it, whether they are going to stick around."

Steel believes the interview and selection process most companies use is insufficient to determine if someone is right for a job. The standard "tell me about yourself" interview puts employers at a disadvantage.

"Things do not work very well because employers are on the wrong side of that equation," said steel "It's easier to mislead people about who you are than for somebody else to find out the truth."

According to Steel, after applicants are screened for relevant education and training, many employers only look at intelligence and conscientiousness. Essentially, employers are looking for people who are smart and hard working. Synthetic Validity allows employers to search more broadly for what they need in any position.

"There are a lot of other things that we can test for," he said. "We can take into account other parts of your personality, other parts of your character. We can take for example what type of cultural values you have . . . for a physical job we can do fine motor tests, check core strength. We can really start breaking down people and take a look at individuals at a fine grain level."

Realizing the full potential of Synthetic Validity will be an intuitive process, according to Steel. By building upon tiny improvements over an extended period of time the system will become substantially more effective. Steel believes there is no limit to the type and range of tests that could provide insight.

"I don't want there to be a final answer, I want to leave that as an open question and say you know let's continue experimenting and putting new things into the system until finally, maybe 10 or 15 years from now, we can't figure out anything new."

Matching people to jobs they are predisposed to excel in could mean huge collective gains in productivity for any group that adopts Synthetic Validity. Steel believes the cost of implementing the system nationally pales in comparison to stimulus spending on job creation and other government expenditures.

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