Senses on Call: Our contact centre recruitment product and related legislation

Posted: 20 May, 2016

By: Annemarie Lombard

Section: Call Centres

Senses on call

During the past few months, I’ve had some interesting conversations and various questions with regards to how Senses on Call™ fits within the labour law legislation, in particular with employment equity.
In order to give you the answers, consideration should be given to the employment equity act, 1998; HPCSA regulations, the Professional Board for Occupational Therapy and the Professional Board for Psychology.

Just some information to recap on the background of Senses on Call™ for those of you who do not know the tool.

Senses on Call™ is:

  • a 60-point standardised questionnaire,
  • determining the sensory preferences of individuals and how they respond to their environments.

Some example questions:

  • “Do you go over to smell fresh flowers? “
  • ”I like to wear colourful clothing”
  • ”I stay away from crowds”

It measures sensory thresholds and related responses/behaviours and becomes a management tool to optimise work and living environments for individuals.  I’ve designed it specifically for contact centre recruitment  – using the standardised testing but then presenting a report result to determine sensory suitability and thus environmental fit for the contact centre industry.  It is not a skill, psychometric or competency test.  The nature of the contact centre industry has made this the perfect work environment for this tool; as it is traditionally busy, and noisy and the role of an agent is rated as one of the top 7 most stressful jobs.  I completed my PhD at the University of Cape Town, which correlated sensory processing with performance, absenteeism and attrition within 4 different contact centres in South Africa.

The employment equity act, 1998, states:
Psychometric testing and other similar assessments of an employee are prohibited unless the test or assessment that is being used:
(a) has been scientifically shown to be valid and reliable;
(b) can be applied fairly to all employees; and
(c) is not biased against any employee or group.

Senses on Call™ is generated from the Adult Sensory Profile™, a fully validated and standardised test, designed and researched by two USA occupational therapists and owned by Pearson.  Sensory Intelligence® has electronic licensing of the tool and the results and report format have been designed based on South African research results. Senses on Call™ can be applied fairly to all employees as it does not ask culturally or gender-biased questions.  The test is in English and the standardisation sample does include 3 different age bands, which are considered during testing.  The test is also used for adolescents and geriatrics, therefore the different age bands as sensory needs change when young or old, based on life roles.

Senses on Call™ is not biased against any employee or group.  It measures genetic sensory thresholds, which is part of general neuroscience and the way the brain is wired.  It is not determined by socioeconomic status, gender or race.

HPCSA regulations:
I am a qualified and registered occupational therapist with the HPCSA (Health Professions Council of South Africa) and am bound by firm ethical and professional standards.  All healthcare professions are regulated by the HPCSA and the respective professional boards are regulated by the HPCSA.

The Professional Board for Occupational Therapy:
The Occupational Therapy professional board took a firm stand on the use of standardised tests in Occupational Therapy and clearly stipulated regulations and tests accepted in Document, FORM 242.
“It should be noted that no professional group has the sole and exclusive right to use standardised tests. Tests for functions that fall within the scope of a profession’s activities must be administered by that profession. This does not absolve that profession from being properly trained and qualified to administer those tests. Occupational therapists are properly qualified and will administer tests within their scope of practice.”

The following competencies are met during the training of occupational therapists:
Have adequate knowledge and understanding of psychometrics, testing and assessment which informs and underpins the process of testing. Use tests in an ethical and professional manner. Have appropriate contextual knowledge and skills.
Have good instrumental knowledge and skills in all aspects of the process of testing. Have appropriate communication and interpersonal skills which underpin test administration, reporting and feedback. Have contingency management skills.

The Adult Sensory Profile™ has been submitted to the Occupational Therapy Board for inclusion in their test list.

The Professional Board for Psychology:
The Psychology board has its own set of rules and regulations to rightfully protect its members and profession while abiding by legislation in the business industry.  They have a test classification process by which instruments are added to the current approved list.  With the listing of a test instrument-specific regulations are enforced; some of which are:
“Only persons registered with the Professional Board for Psychology under the auspices of the HPCSA may administer, score, interpret and give feedback on psychological tests. However, interpretation and feedback are limited to registered psychologists, and psychometrics’ registered in the category Independent/Private practice.”

In Summary:
Senses on Call™ is not a psychological test and is not designed by psychologists but by occupational therapists.  It is fully validated, standardised, not in any way discriminatory and belongs on the Occupational Therapy Boards list of tests.

Who has benefited

Sensory Quiz™
Sensory Matrix™
Senses on Call™
Social media
Sensory Intelligence®