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Understanding HR Technology series – Arctic Shores

In the course of what I do I get the chance to come into contact with an array of HR Technology products that could form a part of how enlightened people professionals are taking to reimagining the workplace. Given the avalanche of technology choices faced by our profession I want to give byte size reviews of some of those I’d recommend as we all seek to make our organisations relevant places to attract and retain today’s talent.

This week I’d like to focus on the Talent Assessment market and some fascinating, award-winning technology from Arctic Shores.

Evolving candidate assessment market

The assessment market has been underpinned historically by business psychology but is increasingly being influenced by data science. For those of a certain generation then pages of ticking boxes on an OPQ proforma gave way to the internet age where said valid assessments went online. The psychology underpinning it didn’t change but the user experience was thankfully upgraded, challenging dominant big players who looked forlornly over their half-rimmed glasses at any candidate who even thought of doing the on-line test in any place other than on a desktop pc (at their granny’s clearly), at room temperature under normal test conditions. From being transferred to the personal technology products at a time when candidates want, we are now advancing a step further by introducing gamification into the process.

What is gamification?

“the application of typical elements of game playing (e.g. point scoring, competition with others, rules of play) to other areas of activity, typically as an online marketing technique to encourage engagement with a product or service”.

Who are Arctic Shores ?

Founder Robert Newry quotes that 80% of candidates are frustrated (I suspect he meant ‘bored’) with current psychometrics and so Arctic Shores looks to the gaming industry to create an engaging 21st century experience to reduce drop-out rates for the digital generation. They also set out to tackle that age old problem of unconscious bias by creating a level playing field and so :

  • help engage more females (who make up over half of gamers) and tackle the negative impact of anxiety that studies suggest afflict women more.

  • provide more objective data points that educate and not differentiate the process and counteract against the obvious ability to game existing personality questionnaires with so much at stake (i.e a job / career outcome).

How does it work ?

Arctic Shores brings personality profiling into the 21st Century by analysing the way we play a game and matching that to validated personality models / profiles. There are currently 2 games available as part of your recruitment process :

  1. Firefly freedom – Looks at our potential to innovate.

  2. Cosmic Cadet – Looks at our resilience and won the design in innovation award 2015)

Coming in July 2016 is Yellow Hook Reef that will look at General Mental Ability.

By playing the game the candidate produces some 3,000 data points providing individual insights benchmarked against norms / profiles generated of the right fit, allowing objective data to push candidates along the recruitment funnel in an engaging manner.

What did I think ?

  • I played cosmic cadet. I blew up imaginary rocks, travelled to planets and interacted with robots. It took me 25 minutes and I found it easy to navigate, it doesn’t require a gaming background as it’s fairly rudimentary (a positive) and added enough pressure to make it taxing (and I guess valid). I thought as I journeyed through the stars how much more enjoyable it was to the endless personality questionnaires I had to complete within a scale of 1-5.

  • The candidate report churned out from 3,000 data points is a broad summary of strengths and development areas in terms of the behaviours identified and which helps inform and educate a wider recruitment process. It stretches to 13 pages but lots of graphics and white space to not overawe the busy recruiter with too much text.

  • For it to take off beyond the usual early adopter suspects then frankly our profession needs to challenge its lack of confidence in innovation. I’ve heard varying concerns (some valid) about bias against non-gamers, those with disabilities, social deprivation linkage, cultural and country differences but our biggest barrier currently is that we haven’t adapted enough into our belief system the benefit data science can bring to our decision-making. If we are truly serious about going after the impact of unconscious bias then here’s a perfect part of our armoury. Let’s start being a bit braver.

  • It’s clearly at the moment an engaging part of the early talent programme segment but what better time to consider its application in face of the introduction of the apprenticeship levy and the ongoing relevance debate for millenials and Generation Z context-setting. For the all the rubbish written about lazy generational stereotypes there is a digital aspect we need to adapt to and this fills that need. The team are planning to introduce an experienced hire programme by September which is set in a more ‘grown up’ relevant context but underpinned by the same science. Finally you can learn more about Arctic Shores from their website or via this helpful youtube introduction.

Whilst recruitment budgets are finite and demands in the sourcing and attraction space have taken centre stage recently, I'm really pleased that an engaging and relevant disruptive entrant to the assessment market has focussed our minds on the importance of producing valid selection decisions that tackle proactively the issue of bias with candidate experience also in mind. And for that we should all be pleased.

Until next time. Let smart technology help build great companies.

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