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HUMAN RESOURCES

The Ego and the IT

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If we told you that there was a cheap way to perform psychological testing on potential employees, well, you might tell us to get our heads examined. But now two software packages have come along to put the "shrink" into "shrink-wrap" - at a fraction of the price of traditional counseling.

Work Attitude Program and Rely Program (800-886-4356; $263.75 for each package) were developed by Helm and Associates Inc., in Dallas, to help managers identify troubling (and potentially litigious) attitudes. Both tests are administered on paper. The Work Attitude test red-flags propensities for sexual harassment, theft, violence, and drug abuse by asking recruits to rate several dozen work-related scenarios. For example, applicants evaluate whether it's OK to tell a sexually explicit joke in the workplace "as long as it is really funny." The Rely test picks up where Work Attitude leaves off, analyzing how a recruit's attitudes toward things like taking long lunches or faking sickness might affect job performance. The results of both tests are keyed into a computer and, minutes later, the programs churn out a three-page evaluation.

Randall Humphrey, executive vice president of Humphrey & Associates Inc., a $35 million electrical and mechanical contractor in Dallas, uses Helm's software not just to toss bad apples but also to "train" new employees to rid themselves of undesirable habits. For example, if someone's evaluation indicates a lackadaisical attitude toward punctuality, Humphrey will talk with that person about the importance of being on time. Or he may inform someone else that off-color jokes don't fit with his family-oriented company. Moreover, the tests may even enhance job performance, notes Humphrey, because employees often want to prove them wrong.

Last updated: Sep 15, 1999




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