Built upon the philosophy that safe, adequate housing and quality healthcare are human rights, the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless (CCH) provides critical assistance to more than 22,000 individuals and families each year.
Yet, to support a large volume of clients like this every year, they need to ensure they have the right team in place to facilitate the same high standard of care they’ve offered since 1984.
According to Jacob Wessley, the Director of Outreach and Engagement at CCH, this generally means looking for opportunities for internal mobility within their existing team.
However, to ensure a fair, efficient, and accurate hiring process that gives all employees a fair chance to progress, Wesley quickly realized that CCH would require assistance from a third-party platform.
Finding a way to assess the existing team’s competencies and boost internal mobility
CCH’s highest incumbent position is their case manager role.
Despite the potential to develop professionally and advance their careers, the issue CCH were experiencing was that existing team members were so satisfied with their existing roles, that they had little interest in progressing to program management positions.
In the interest of retaining the remarkable talent they already possessed internally, CCH went in search of a solution that would allow them to see who was ready to take on more development. According to Wessley, this ongoing issue needed a new approach.
“We needed to find a way to develop a formalized assessment tool, measure their competencies, and see if they were ready to progress to another level.”
The search for an assessment tool that accurately assesses competencies
To assess someone’s internal mobility potential, CHH’s previous process looked like this:
- They identified the need for a position and posted it
- Team members coordinated to form an interviewing committee
- The committee interviewed the employee and assessed them using traditional interview processes
However, this recruitment model presented two major challenges: objectively and accurately choosing the right applicant to progress internally, while giving the large volume of suitable employees a fair chance to be assessed.
To guarantee an unbiased approach, CCH was aware that they would require an independent and formalized assessment tool to decide which case managers would receive career progression based on their current skills and competencies.
Upon reaching out to various vendors, Wessley stumbled across Vervoe’s AI-powered job simulation platform.
“Through a meeting with Vervoe, it was clear they understood our needs, could provide us with the services we needed at a price that, as a non-profit, worked for us. Vervoe has helped us understand how to equitably assess talent within our agency and how to administer those assessments in a way that is both effective and efficient so that our program staff and HR staff can work effectively with the software.”
Creating an accurate assessment for a unique role and organization
Unfortunately, there was no existing blueprint for assessing case management career progression.
This meant that CCH needed a solution that would allow them to dig deep to get to the core of the role and what an employee’s internal journey may look like. With no standard to work from, they built an assessment from scratch.
On top of an already challenging task, CCH had to consider the varying levels of case managers. As any new system needed to take into account the fact that case managers level two and three had different requirements, CCH required unique assessments to adequately assess suitability.
The CCH team worked alongside Vervoe’s Behavioral Science Lead to build a tailored assessment in an iterative fashion, and Wessley was surprised at how diligently Vervoe approached the task.
“When we first started using Vervoe and we met with some of their subject matter experts around building an assessment, they first wanted to meet with some of our staff who were providing case management here to get a better understanding of their job to have better context to create this assessment.”
Once they had a draft, CCH had internal supervisors with case management experience work with Vervoe to refine the assessment questions before getting team members who’ve previously worked in the role to take the assessment and record their feedback. This allowed them to make revisions before setting it live.
Despite the fact that a customized approach was needed to solve the issue at hand, Wessley soon discovered that the resulting assessment ticked all of the right boxes that existing CCH systems required.
“For example, some questions were audio-video questions that didn’t work with our current technology. So, we worked with Vervoe to change those questions, and through some back and forth we were able to get to a final product that worked well for us.”
Assessments that test practical skills, not just theoretical knowledge
CCH built two case manager assessments based on the varying seniority levels of the role, consisting of roughly 12 questions each.
The assessments were primarily made up of short answer questions and a couple of multiple-choice options, covering topics such as trauma, cultural competency, motivational interviewing, harm reduction, and more.
Due to the sensitive and involved nature of the position, Wessley says it’s important for CCH assessments to adequately assess their employees’ skills in the context of the role, and not just their theoretical understanding.
“What the assessment tries to do is to ask questions that can’t really be answered academically. They have to be answered based on their real-life work experience so we get a better sense of how they’re approaching various situations on a day-to-day basis, and not just their understanding on a pure academic level.”
Upon completion, the assessments highlighted two key findings:
- Which team members had the necessary skill set to proceed to the next level of their careers, and
- Who needed additional support and training to help get their skills up to scratch to continue progressing in the organization.
A positive experience for candidates and assessors
According to Wessley, the most impactful change that CCH has noticed since introducing Vervoe job simulations is the “psychological relief” it’s offered their team, knowing there are options to progress within the organization without feeling stagnant.
“It’s created a situation where people know there’s internal mobility options. When we make a new hire, it’s a helpful recruiting tool knowing that within a year, they’ll be eligible to be a case manager two, which comes with a preset pay bump. We’ve seen dozens of staff move through this progression, and overall, they’re appreciative that there’s an opportunity to assess their skills and move them forward accordingly.”
Additionally, the feedback on their assessments so far has been overwhelmingly positive. On the front end, applicants reported that the assessment felt fair and gave them the opportunity to progress and be compensated for their skills. Internally, the AI-assisted ranking and grading feature helped to streamline the process accurately so that Wessley and the team at CCH could make fairer and faster hiring decisions.
What Wessley also found was that when CCH manually grades an assessment and compares it to the AI’s score, it’s accurate within a percentage point or two.
For CCH, the deciding factor to continue expanding their Vervoe assessments beyond just case management roles came down to the uncompromising support they received from Vervoe’s team. Wessley acknowledged the benefit of having a single point of contact, fast response times, and a willingness to jump on a call to answer questions or resolve issues quickly.
“The best part about using Vervoe has been the customer service. The turning point of why we’ve wanted to continue using Vervoe is that not only has it been extremely effective overall, but it’s been so effective because the customer service is always there to help us whenever we have any questions.”