Functional Employment Testing and its Relationship to Taylor Efficiency
The last thing employers want is for a worker to get injured on the job. Not only does an employer care about the safety of the employees, but an employer may be forced to respond to lawsuits and other difficulties caused by workplace injuries. Because of my interest in the labor force and the effects of efficiency on overall production in the workplace, I decided to do a little research on ways to enhance workplace safety.
During my research, I came across an article by WorkSTEPS that explained a process called functional employment testing. According to the article, this type of testing an objective procured that is designed to match a worker’s functional capabilities with the essential functions of a job. The necessary byproduct of creating this match is a more effective, safer, and legally-compliant workplace that ultimately increases production. Specifically, the article explained that functional employment testing increases general worker productivity, reduces turnover, creates a safer work environment, and reduces Group Health costs.
The article explained that functional employment testing procedures can test both a potential employer and even a current employer. The names of various functional employment testing procedures include the following: pre-employment post-offer testing, post-employment fit-for-duty testing, upper quadrant/carpal tunnel testing, return-to-work fit-for-duty testing, and functional capacity evaluations post injuries. These tests are aimed at the goal of enhancing safety and efficiency and therefore increasing productivity.
Frederick Winslow Taylor was an American mechanical engineer in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He spearheaded the Efficiency Movement which, as the name implies, was aimed at promoting efficiency. He is well-known for his application of mechanical engineering principles to the factory floor. However, his claim to fame was his work on scientific management and management theories.
Taylor believed that a careful analysis of work would ultimately reveal the “one best way” to do that work. In conducting this analysis to particular tasks, Taylor was best known for taking a stopwatch out to the factory floor, breaking down each job into its parts, and recording each part of the job to the nearest hundredth of a minute with the help of his stopwatch. For instance, Taylor once observed and studied a shoveling operation. Through one of his stopwatch studies, he found that each worker should load his shovel with 2.5 lbs. of material to reach the most efficient outcome. With this conclusion, Taylor fashioned shovels that were carefully crafted to hold this amount, and therefore ultimately promote efficiency.
I find it amazing that efficiency concepts studied in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s remain relevant today. The functional employment testing procedures described by the article are much like a Taylor stopwatch efficiency analysis. The function employment tests aim at safety, efficiency, and an increase in overall production. Perhaps each tester is given a shovel after he or she completes the test!