Geplaatst: 28 Sep, 2023

Harnessing Data-Driven Decision Making in HR: The Power of Game-Based Assessments

Why HR should care about data and what value it can bring us

Decision-making based on data did feel harsh to many HR professionals. Now even those romantic ones understand that objective information is not replacing their gut feeling, but it at least gives them grip when making decisions in uncertain situations. In a world where intuition has long been revered as a guiding force in decision-making, the tide is shifting towards a more analytical approach. Like the business landscape HR departments are evolving rapidly. In this article, we’ll explore why data-driven decision-making in HR is urgently needed and how utilizing neuroscientific game-based assessments can not only make recruitment processes more fair and reliable but also transform the workplace into a more interesting and engaging environment.

The magic of combining human judgment with data-driven decision-making

Intuition, the innate ability to simply “know” what is right or wrong, has held a special place in human decision-making. It’s often associated with great minds like Albert Einstein and Steve Jobs, who extolled its virtues. While intuition can be a valuable starting point, it’s not the sole pillar upon which decisions should rest. Relying solely on gut feelings can lead to flawed conclusions. Like in the medical world, a doctor needs to combine the expert’s view with reliable data points like heart rate and blood pressure. In the mix of expertise and facts, the correct decision is hidden.

Data-Driven Decision-Making in HR: A Game Changer

According to a survey by PwC, organizations that embrace data-driven practices are three times more likely to experience significant improvements in decision-making compared to those that rely less on data. In almost every business unit or department, the shift towards data-driven decision-making is evident, but here HR lags behind. Probably professionals in this field of expertise accept being informed or even corrected about cars, machines, or buildings, but rely on their opinions when it’s about their own species: people.

Why HR Needs Data-Driven Decision Making

 Considering that people are a company’s most significant expense and its greatest asset, the delay in embracing data-driven HR practices can be detrimental. HR teams need visibility into various aspects of their operations, such as hiring, attrition, turnover, and diversity. By leveraging data, HR leaders can unlock valuable insights that connect people to business outcomes.

The Role of Game-Based Assessments

The majority has a clear wish to embrace HR data but lacks the knowledge or the tools to actually change approaches. One exciting tool in the realm of data-driven decision-making HR is neuroscientific, game-based assessments. These kinds of assessments go beyond traditional methods, such as resumes and interviews, by evaluating candidates’ cognitive abilities, attention, and problem-solving skills in a game-like setting. This is what organizations using these fair, reliable, and talent-centered tooling reports:

  • Objective Evaluation: Game-based assessments provide an objective way to evaluate candidates’ abilities, reducing bias in the hiring process.
  • Predictive Accuracy: The scores offer predictive insights into a candidate’s potential job performance, increasing the likelihood of successful hires.
  • Employee Engagement: Integrating the skills-based talent profiles into HR processes can make work more interesting and engaging for HR professionals. They get the opportunity to make their work more visible and find ways to optimize and improve their processes.
  • Skill Development: By incorporating data-driven HR practices, HR teams are invited to acquire valuable data analysis skills, enhancing their professional growth.

What comes next for HR professionals?

Embracing data-driven decision-making in HR is not only essential but also transformative. It empowers HR leaders to make informed choices, unlock critical insights, and connect people to business outcomes. Moreover, incorporating neuroscience game-based assessments can add a layer of excitement to HR processes, making work in HR departments more interesting and rewarding. As HR professionals become data literate, they will play a pivotal role in shaping the future of their organizations. Get in touch with our data experts and let’s make use of data to shape the future of HR together.

Geplaatst: 26 Sep, 2023

Unconscious Bias in Recruitment: Blocking equal access on the labor market

Recognizing the problem and ways to move further away from unconscious bias in recruitment

It’s not a problem that human beings are biased. The real problem is that the majority of people are not aware of this fact. The lack of diversity in companies is a widely discussed issue, with more than half of HR professionals acknowledging that their current policies fail to improve the situation. The selection approach, both for external and internal candidates, is key to achieving more diversity and an area where many companies fall short. Most talent acquisition processes are (unintentionally) detrimental to achieving diversity goals. This is primarily due to the unconscious bias of professionals involved in the selection of new employees. In this blog, we set a clear definition of unconscious bias in recruitment and how you can reach DEI goals in your organization.

Recognizing the Problem of Unconscious Bias

As the saying goes: “The first step in solving a problem is to recognize that it does exist.” In the world of attracting and hiring talent, the problem is unconscious bias in recruitment. Every person is affected by unconscious bias, including recruiters and hiring managers. This bias, often unintentionally, creeps into the selection process. The human brain, wired to process information quickly, tends to make snap judgments based on limited data, such as a candidate’s name or photo. As soon as a candidate’s information, such as a resume, is read, the brain begins to draw premature conclusions. This is not the intention of the HR professional, but it still happens, and it is naive to think it will stop automatically from happening. Solving the unconscious bias in recruiting issue starts with acknowledging its existence.

Understanding Unconscious Bias

There are numerous (cognitive) biases to be distinguished. Some of the most well-known in HR: 

  • Fundamental Attribution Bias: We judge others based on personality or character rather than on the situation. Martin is late for his interview, so he must be a poor planner. 
  • HALO and Horn Effects: We assume that one positive characteristic of a person must mean they automatically have other positive qualities, too. Hilde is attractive, so she must be trustworthy. The Horn effect is the opposite. Linda does not look well-groomed, so she may not be trustworthy.
  • Anchoring Effect: We heavily rely on the initial piece of information as an anchor for all further decisions. The first candidate you meet is disappointing, so the next one must be a top candidate compared to the first one.
  • In-group-out-group Bias: We favor in-group members over out-group members. The interview with Hannah, who like me enjoys running, went great. The conversation with Marjan, who doesn’t exercise at all, didn’t go well – there was no connection. 
  • Authority Bias: We assign more value to and are more influenced by the opinion of an authority figure. For example, Willem is the director, so he must be right.

The Critical First Step to overcome unconscious bias

Objectifying the recruitment process begins with the very first step—applicant screening. Many traditional processes, like CV reviews, inadvertently introduce unconscious bias in recruiting. A resume may contain information such as age, background, or even a photo that can influence early judgments. To mitigate this, it’s essential to focus on the skills and qualities a candidate needs for the job, rather than their background or appearance. This way you shift from an opinion-based process to a data-driven one.

Game-Based Assessments: A Solution

One innovative solution to reducing selection bias is the use of game-based assessments. Unlike traditional assessments with inherent bias, these assessments can measure cognitive abilities, which are more indicative of a candidate’s potential to excel in a role. They are also less influenced by language proficiency and background. By introducing game-based assessments early in the selection process, organizations can prioritize potential over experience and reduce the impact of unconscious bias in recruitment. This approach very much fits in a future-oriented HR policy, where talents are evaluated looking forward instead of backward.

Real-Life Success Stories: getting rid of unconscious bias in recruitment

The Municipality of Rotterdam provides a compelling example of the effectiveness of game-based assessments. By forming two selection committees—one reviewing CVs and test results, and another solely evaluating game-based assessments—they achieved significantly different shortlists of candidates. Ultimately, the candidate who excelled in the game-based assessment, despite having less impressive credentials on paper, turned out to be the best fit for the role. And he still is.

Implementing Change: A Promising Path Forward

Recent research by Harvard Business Review shows three new and promising ways to combat unconscious bias by incorporating DEI into decision-making. These make DEI immediately obvious or salient the moment it actually matters most: when consequential decisions about hiring, promotions, and performance evaluation are made.

  1. Hire for more than one job at a time: Collective hiring decisions lead to more choices in favor of diversity. Not surprisingly, when considering that diversity is a group property.
  2. Prompt managers to consider diversity in their promotion process: Making diversity more salient can increase promotions for employees from underrepresented ethnic backgrounds.
  3. Show diversity training videos right before formal people decision: The multinational telecommunications company Ericsson was able to hire significantly more people from underrepresented groups with this strategy. It seems to be way more effective to make people aware of DEI at the moment of decision-making than during onboarding.

How can we start combating unconscious bias today?

Unconscious bias in recruiting may be a part of human nature, but with the right strategies and a commitment to change, organizations can ensure that selection bias doesn’t stand in the way of building diverse, innovative, and successful teams. Let’s strive for fair and inclusive workplaces where everyone has an equal opportunity to thrive. Contact our diversity experts to start eliminating bias from your selection process.

Geplaatst: 21 Sep, 2023

Mismatch Brain and Job raises Burnout Concerns Among Young Professionals

How Matching Cognition and Work Can Reduce Job-related Burnout Risk

Job-related burnout has become more than a buzzword in the professional world and for a good reason. Besides affecting someone’s mental health it touches both productivity and overall job satisfaction considerably. And it’s not limited to a few demographic groups. Among the groups most susceptible to burnout are young professionals, particularly women. As the number of job-related burnout cases continues to rise, it’s crucial to explore effective prevention strategies. In this blog, we take you along on the cause of job-related burnouts and also on one promising approach to prevent burnouts:  the alignment of cognitive abilities with job roles.

The Job-related Burnout Epidemic Among Young Professionals

‘Burnout’ as an occupational phenomenon has been a problem for a long time. Sadly, it is still growing. A recent NOS article sheds light on the alarming increase in job-related burnout cases. The competitive nature of the modern labor market, long working hours, and the pressure to constantly excel can take a toll on the mental well-being of these individuals. It is not limited to a specific industry or job role, making it an issue that demands attention across the board. HR departments don’t deny it, while at the same time struggling to solve the problem.

The Role of Cognitive Abilities in Job-related Burnout

‘Not able to meet the requirements’, refers to both supply and demand. When out of balance, this probably causes trouble for both employees and employers. To address the work floor epidemic effectively, we must consider the role of cognitive abilities in job roles. Every individual possesses a unique set of cognitive skills, including problem-solving, creativity, attention to detail, and more. When these skills align with the demands of a job, employees are more likely to experience job satisfaction and lower levels of stress and burnout. Balancing brains and jobs should be key in designing teams and workforces. 

The Power of Cognitive Fit: 3 goals

One of the terms used for this balance is ‘cognitive fit’. When there is a strong alignment between cognitive supply and demand, employees are more likely to thrive in their roles. On the contrary, a significant mismatch can lead to stress, frustration, and ultimately job-related burnout.

Here’s how matching cognitive abilities and job roles can make a difference:

  1. Enhanced Job Satisfaction: When employees are in roles that match their cognitive abilities, they are more likely to enjoy their work. They feel a sense of accomplishment and engagement, which are key factors in preventing burnout.
  2. Improved Performance: Employees who are well-suited to their job roles tend to perform better. Their natural cognitive strengths enable them to excel in their tasks, leading to better results for both the individual and the organization.
  3. Reduced Stress Levels: A mismatch between cognitive abilities and job demands can lead to chronic stress. By ensuring a better fit, organizations can reduce stress levels among their employees, promoting mental well-being.

Implementing Cognitive Matching in the Workplace 

To address the rising job-related burnout concerns among young professionals, organizations should consider the following steps:

  • Assess Cognitive Skills: Implement assessments or tools that help identify the cognitive abilities of employees. Understanding these strengths and weaknesses is essential for making informed talent-matching decisions.
  • Redefine Job Roles: Evaluate and, if necessary, redefine job roles based on cognitive demands. This might involve reshuffling responsibilities or creating new positions to better suit employees’ cognitive abilities.
  • Promote Flexibility: Allow for flexibility in job assignments. Sometimes, employees may possess a range of cognitive abilities, and offering them opportunities to explore various tasks can enhance job satisfaction.
  • Provide Training and Support: Offer training and support to help employees develop their cognitive skills. This can include workshops, career programs, or access to online resources.

To all HR leaders of today: what now?

HR is looking for clear evidence-based approaches to tackle the worrying rise of job-related burnouts. Science is backing the pursuit of a company-wide brain-job-balance. According to a Harvard Business Review, matching cognitive abilities to job roles is a promising strategy that can lead to improved job satisfaction, better performance, and reduced stress levels among young professionals.

By acknowledging the importance of cognitive fit in the workplace, organizations can create a healthier and more productive environment for their employees, ultimately contributing to the well-being of their workforce and the success of their business.

The job-related burnout epidemic is a significant challenge, but with the right strategies in place, we can work towards a future where young professionals can thrive in their careers without sacrificing their mental health. BrainsFirst helps organizations in various industries to redesign jobs, roles, and skills. With tangible results in terms of job engagement, employee well-being, productivity, and quality of hire.

Want to know more about how to effectively prevent job-related burnout? Get in touch with our cognitive fit experts to discover how our cognitive assessments can assist you in identifying essential skills and matching talents who will actively contribute to your company’s goals.

Geplaatst: 19 Sep, 2023

Investing in Employee Development

A Sustainable Path to Talent Retention

One of the key findings from recent employee development research by McKinsey (2022) indicates that 75% of workers are open to alternative career paths and growth opportunities within their current organizations. This revelation underscores the importance of investing in employee development as a potent tool for talent retention. In this blog post, we will dig into the significance of employee development, its impact on talent retention, and practical ways to implement effective programs.

Understanding the Value of Employee Development

Employee development refers to the process of nurturing and enhancing an employee’s skills, knowledge, and abilities to help them grow within their current role or prepare for future career opportunities. It encompasses various activities, including training, mentorship, coaching, workshops, and educational programs. By investing in employee development, organizations not only empower their workforce but also reap several benefits that contribute to talent retention.

Boosting Employee Engagement

Engaged employees are more likely to stay with their current employer. When organizations invest in their growth and offer opportunities for skill acquisition, it sends a clear message that they are valued and that their career progression is a priority. This commitment to their professional growth frequently leads to higher levels of engagement, job satisfaction, and loyalty.

Workforce out-dated? Enhancing Skill Sets and Capabilities

In today’s fast-paced business environment, skills quickly become outdated. To remain competitive, employees need ongoing L&D opportunities. When organizations provide avenues for skill enhancement, talents can stay current and even ahead of industry trends. This not only benefits the individual but also makes the organization more competitive.

Nurturing Leadership Potential

Identifying and grooming future leaders from within the organization is a crucial aspect of employee development. Investing in leadership programs allows organizations to identify high potentials and equip them with the skills and knowledge needed to take on leadership roles. This not only prepares employees for future career progression but also strengthens the organization’s leadership pipeline.

Increasing Employee Satisfaction

Employees who see that their organization is committed to their professional growth and provides opportunities for advancement are more likely to feel satisfied with their jobs. Satisfied employees are less likely to seek opportunities elsewhere, contributing to improved talent retention rates.

Practical Strategies for Employee Development

  • Tailored Training Programs: Design training and development programs that are customized to meet the specific needs and career goals of individual  talents. This personalized approach demonstrates a commitment to their growth as an organization.
  • Mentorship and Coaching: Implement mentorship and coaching programs that connect employees with experienced mentors or coaches within the organization. These relationships can provide valuable guidance and support for career development.
  • Skills Assessments: Use skills assessments and performance evaluations to identify areas where talents can benefit from additional training and development. This data-driven approach ensures that development efforts are targeted and effective.
  • Continuous Learning Culture: Foster a culture of continuous learning by encouraging employees to pursue ongoing education, attend workshops, and participate in online courses. Provide resources and support for these endeavors.
  • Career Path Planning: Work with employees to create clear and achievable career development plans, individually, but also as a team. Regularly review and adjust these plans to align with evolving goals and opportunities. For example, use certified coaches and tooling you believe measure the right skills to develop and guide their path inside your organization.
  • Feedback and Recognition: Provide regular feedback and recognize people for their efforts and achievements in their journey. Positive reinforcement encourages continued growth.


Why employee development matters

Investing in employee development is not just a sound business strategy; it’s a powerful approach for improving talent retention. As the research mentioned above suggests, the majority of workers are eager for growth opportunities. By recognizing and acting on this desire, organizations can create an environment where team members feel valued, engaged, and motivated to stay and grow with the company. In an era of constant change and competition, employee development is the key to building a resilient and talented workforce that will drive your organization’s success into the future.

Interested in discovering how you can enhance your employees’ professional growth and development? Get in touch with our employee development expert at BrainsFirst, and we’ll show you how to provide a more in-depth level of career guidance using brain data.

We’ll also help you provide tailored development opportunities aligning with your employees’ unique cognitive profiles. Let’s find out together what suits your organization best!

Geplaatst: 13 Sep, 2023

Unlocking Potential with Skills-based Hiring

The Power of Skills-Based Hiring for Diversity and Fresh Perspectives

Over the last years, organizations have started to redefine their approach to talent acquisition. The concept of skills-based hiring is gaining momentum as companies recognize its potential to redesign not only their workforce but also their entire culture. In this blog post, we will delve into the transformative impact of skills-based hiring. It allows organizations to tap into a wider talent pool, foster diversity and inclusion, and bring fresh talent perspectives to the table. But how to enable this approach?

Skills-Based Hiring: A Paradigm Shift

Traditionally, hiring has often centered around a candidate’s educational background, work experience, and qualifications. While these factors certainly have their merits, they can inadvertently lead to biases and limit the talent pool. Skills-based hiring takes a different approach. It places the spotlight on a candidate’s actual skills and competencies, allowing organizations to evaluate individuals based on their ability to perform specific tasks and contribute to the company’s goals.

Expanding the Talent Pool

One of the primary benefits of skills-based hiring is that it widens the talent pool. When organizations focus on skills rather than relying solely on formal credentials, they open the door to individuals from diverse backgrounds and experiences. This approach ensures that talent is not overlooked based on factors such as education or previous job titles.

For example, a candidate who may not have a traditional degree but possesses exceptional potential for programming skills could be an ideal fit for a tech company. By emphasizing skills, organizations can uncover hidden gems and unlock a wealth of untapped potential.

Fostering Diversity and Inclusion

Diversity and inclusion are not just buzzwords; they are essential components of a thriving and innovative organization. Lots of HR professionals responsible for DEI strategies struggle with implementing them. What approach actually delivers its promise? Skills-based hiring inherently promotes diversity by removing barriers that may have prevented certain individuals from entering the workforce. It allows people of different genders, races, socioeconomic backgrounds, and traditional abilities to showcase their skills and contribute to the organization’s success.

Furthermore, skills-based hiring helps to combat unconscious biases that can affect traditional hiring practices. When hiring decisions are based on skills, rather than assumptions about a candidate’s abilities, organizations are more likely to create a workplace where all employees feel valued and included.

Enabling Innovation by thinking different

Fresh perspectives are the lifeblood of innovation. When organizations prioritize skills over traditional qualifications, they bring in individuals with diverse life experiences and problem-solving approaches. This diversity of thought can lead to breakthrough ideas and creative solutions that may not have emerged in a more homogeneous environment.

Imagine a marketing team composed of individuals with backgrounds in psychology, engineering, and art. Each member brings a unique perspective to the table, resulting in marketing campaigns that resonate with a broader audience and push the boundaries of creativity.

Creating a Skills-Based Hiring Strategy

To harness the benefits of skills-based hiring, organizations should consider implementing the following strategies:

  • Define Skills Clearly: outline the skills and competencies required for each role within your organization as sharp as possible. This ensures that both candidates and hiring managers have a clear understanding of expectations.
  • Revise Job Descriptions: craft job descriptions that focus on skills and desired outcomes rather than rigid qualifications. This encourages a broader range of applicants to apply.
  • Use structured Assessments: choose standardized assessments, like the NeurOlympics, or tests that evaluate candidates’ skills relevant to the role. These assessments provide objective, bias-free data for decision-making.
  • Invest in Training & Upskilling: help existing employees to develop the skills needed for career advancement within the organization.


skills based hiring based on skills


What is the future of skills-based hiring?

Skills-based hiring is not just a hiring trend; it’s a powerful tool for organizations to tap into a wider talent pool, foster diversity and inclusion, and bring fresh perspectives to the table. By valuing skills over traditional qualifications, businesses can create a more innovative, adaptable, and inclusive workplace. So, let’s embrace skills-based hiring and celebrate the richness of talent perspectives it brings to our organizations.

Ready to unlock the potential of skills-based hiring? Get in touch with our skills expert to discover how our cognitive assessments can assist you in identifying essential skills and matching talents who will actively contribute to your company’s goals.

Geplaatst: 21 Jun, 2023

Embracing Cognitive Diversity

Leveraging neurodivergent thinkers for innovation and success by embracing cognitive diversity

In today’s rapidly evolving world, where change is the only constant, organizations must adapt and thrive in order to stay ahead of the curve as a workforce. To navigate the complex challenges of the modern landscape, businesses need a diverse range of perspectives and approaches. This is where the concept of cognitive diversity comes into play – the recognition and celebration of different thinking styles and cognitive profiles within a team or organization. Embracing cognitive diversity has a lot of benefits for your workforce. In this blog post, we will explore the concept of cognitive diversity, its significance in the workplace, and strategies for leveraging neurodivergent thinkers.

Instead of solely looking at diversity from the outside, you should also consider diversity from the inside. Under the hood, so to speak. Cognitive diversity refers to the variety of ways individuals perceive, think, and solve problems. Understanding the value of embracing cognitive diversity is crucial for unleashing the full potential of your team. Each individual possesses a unique set of cognitive strengths and preferences, which shape their approach to problem-solving, decision-making, creativity, teamwork, and innovation. By acknowledging and appreciating these diverse perspectives, organizations can tap into a wealth of talent and expertise.

Understanding Different Thinking Styles and Cognitive Profiles

Cognitive diversity encompasses a wide range of characteristics, including but not limited to analytical thinking, creativity, emotional intelligence, attention to detail, and strategic thinking. Some individuals excel at seeing the big picture and identifying new opportunities, while others possess an unparalleled ability to dive deep into data, recognize patterns and extract meaningful insights. By embracing these differences, you can foster a culture of inclusion and create an environment where everyone’s abilities are valued.

Fostering an inclusive environment for embracing cognitive diversity

Creating an inclusive and supportive environment for cognitive diversity requires intentional effort. First and foremost, it is essential to foster a culture that values and respects different viewpoints. Encourage open dialogue and active listening, where team members feel comfortable expressing their ideas and opinions. Emphasize the importance of empathy and empathy-building exercises to enhance understanding and collaboration among team members.

To support cognitive diversity effectively, organizations must establish structures and processes that encourage participation and contribution from all team members. This can be achieved through cross-functional collaboration, where individuals from different departments or backgrounds come together to solve problems and generate innovative ideas. By facilitating interdisciplinary teamwork, you can create a fertile ground for diverse perspectives to intersect and spark creativity.

Make unicity work for you

When it comes to problem identification and problem-solving, cognitive diversity can be a game-changer. Neurodivergent thinkers bring unique angles and approaches to tackling challenges, allowing for a more comprehensive understanding of the problem space. By welcoming diverse perspectives, organizations can avoid the pitfalls of groupthink and uncover novel solutions that might have otherwise gone unnoticed. In the end, problems will become challenges that will be solved better included by diverse thinkers.

Moreover, embracing cognitive diversity enhances adaptability in the face of change. As the world evolves, organizations must be nimble and quick to respond to new circumstances. By reinforcing different thinkers, you can tap into their ability to identify emerging trends, anticipate potential disruptions, and adapt strategies accordingly. The diverse cognitive profiles within your team can act as a collective radar, scanning the environment for signals and ensuring your organization remains agile and forward-thinking.

Another area where cognitive diversity shines is decision-making. When diverse perspectives are considered, decisions become more robust and well-rounded. By integrating different thinking styles and cognitive profiles, organizations can avoid biases and broaden their understanding of the potential outcomes and risks associated with each decision. This approach leads to more informed choices and mitigates the potential for blind spots that may arise from a homogenous decision-making process.

Innovation and creativity flourish in environments that embrace cognitive diversity. By bringing together individuals with diverse perspectives, experiences, and cognitive strengths, organizations can generate a rich tapestry of ideas. Collaborative brainstorming sessions and innovation workshops become more fruitful as participants approach problems from different angles, challenge assumptions, and cross-pollinate ideas. The combination of varied cognitive profiles ignites the spark of innovation, driving organizations to new heights of creativity.

Finally, collaboration and teamwork are significantly enhanced through cognitive diversity. When individuals with different thinking styles and cognitive profiles come together, they bring complementary skills and perspectives to the table. By welcoming these differences and encouraging collaboration, organizations can tap into the collective intelligence of their teams. Diverse teams benefit from increased problem-solving abilities, better decision-making, and improved creativity, leading to more successful outcomes and a stronger sense of cohesion.

Start recognizing cognitive diversity today

Cognitive diversity is a powerful asset that organizations can strengthen to achieve innovation, creativity, and success. Embracing cognitive diversity is essential for organizations seeking innovation and success in today’s dynamic world. It does not only drive individual growth but also fuels organizational progress and resilience. So, let us celebrate the power of diverse minds coming together and unlock the full potential of cognitive diversity in our organizations. The fact that neurodiverse teams generate up to 19% revenue in companies that embrace diverse thinkers is worth thinking about it.

Ready to harness the power of cognitive diversity in your organization?

Contact our brain-experts at BrainsFirst to learn how our cognitive assessments can help you identify and leverage neurodivergent thinkers to understand how your workforce can contribute to enhanced innovation and success by embracing cognitive diversity!

Geplaatst: 7 Jun, 2023

The Power of Cognitive Flexibility in Adapting to Change

The Power of Cognitive Flexibility in Adapting to Change

In a world that is constantly evolving, the ability to adapt to change has become a crucial skill for success. And at the core of this ability lies cognitive flexibility – the capacity to shift one’s thinking and behavior in response to new situations and challenges. From coping with job loss to adjusting to new technologies, those who possess cognitive flexibility are better equipped to navigate the uncertainties of life.

Developing cognitive flexibility offers substantial benefits beyond just improving decision-making skills. It not only positively affects our emotional well-being but also has a greater impact on predicting future success compared to IQ alone. Its broad range encompasses traits such as imagination, creativity, empathy, and curiosity that contribute immensely to human progress. But what exactly is cognitive flexibility, and how can we develop it? In this article, we will explore the science behind cognitive flexibility, its benefits, and practical strategies for cultivating it. So let’s dive in and discover the keys to adapting with ease and grace.

Understanding cognitive flexibility

Cognitive flexibility is the ability to switch between different cognitive tasks or mental sets. It allows us to adjust our thinking and behavior in response to changing circumstances. This makes it an essential skill for success in today’s fast-paced world. Cognitive flexibility is related to a number of other cognitive processes, such as working memory, attention, and inhibitory control. All these skills are reliably measured by our NeurOlympics assessment games.

While people tend to apply learned schemas or concepts to new situations, this approach is not always beneficial. Many individuals struggle with internal conflicts when attempting to adjust to unfamiliar circumstances, and the same holds true for businesses and organizations. Surprisingly, some people prefer to remain unemployed rather than adapt to new situations, yearning to return to their previous state. To illustrate, imagine always taking the same route to work. One day, you discover road construction, leaving you with two alternative routes. You can stick to the same route and be late, or you can find an alternative path. This is where cognitive flexibility comes into play.

Research by Cambridge University and Nanyang Technological University has shown that cognitive flexibility is not a fixed trait, but rather a skill that can be developed and improved over time. At least within a certain bandwidth. This means that even if you feel like you’re not naturally flexible, you can still work on building this skill and become more adaptable.

The importance of cognitive flexibility in adapting to change

In today’s world, change is constant. Whether it’s a new job, a new technology, or a new set of circumstances, we are constantly faced with situations that require us to adapt. Those who possess cognitive flexibility are better equipped to handle these changes. They are able to shift their thinking and behavior to meet new challenges.

Cognitive flexibility is particularly important in the workplace, where employees are often required to take on new roles or responsibilities. It allows individuals to learn new skills and adapt to new environments, which can lead to increased job satisfaction and performance.

But cognitive flexibility is not just important in the workplace – it is also crucial in our personal lives. From navigating relationships to coping with unexpected events, those who are able to adapt to changing circumstances are more likely to thrive in all areas of life.

How cognitive flexibility affects performance

Cognitive flexibility is associated with creativity. The ability to shift one’s thinking and come up with new ideas is an important aspect of cognitive flexibility and can lead to innovative solutions to problems.

In addition, cognitive flexibility has been linked to better decision-making. The ability to consider multiple perspectives and weigh different options is an important aspect of cognitive flexibility and can lead to more informed and effective decisions.

Cognitive flexibility and resilience

Resilience is the ability to bounce back from difficult situations and adapt to change. Cognitive flexibility is a key component of resilience.

Research has shown that individuals who possess cognitive flexibility are better able to cope with stress and adversity. They are able to find new ways of thinking about and approaching difficult situations, which can help them to overcome obstacles and bounce back from setbacks.

Improving cognitive flexibility in the workplace

There are a number of exercises that can help to improve cognitive flexibility. One simple exercise is to practice thinking about things from multiple perspectives. For example, if you are faced with a problem, try to come up with at least three different ways of approaching it.

Another exercise is to engage in activities that require you to switch between different tasks or mental sets. For example, playing a musical instrument or learning a new language can help to improve cognitive flexibility.

Additionally, mindfulness meditation has been shown to improve cognitive flexibility. Mindfulness involves paying attention to the present moment without judgment, which can help to improve cognitive control and flexibility.

Another strategy is to encourage collaboration and teamwork. Working with others can help to expose individuals to new ideas and perspectives, which can help to improve cognitive flexibility.

Finally, employers can provide training and resources to help employees develop their cognitive flexibility skills. This can include workshops, coaching, and online courses.

The impact of cognitive flexibility on mental health

Cognitive flexibility has been shown to have a positive impact on mental health. Research has shown that individuals with higher levels of cognitive flexibility are less likely to experience symptoms of anxiety and depression.

One reason for this may be that cognitive flexibility allows individuals to approach difficult situations with a more open and flexible mindset. This can help to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety and improve overall mental well-being.

Conclusion – how do we benefit @ work

By understanding the science behind cognitive flexibility, its benefits, and practical strategies for developing it, employees can improve their performance, resilience, and overall well-being. And employers understand what to look for in their future talent pools. Cognitive flexibility is an essential skill that not only empowers individuals to make better decisions but also enhances their emotional well-being. Its significance surpasses that of traditional intelligence measures, such as IQ, as it enables innovation, creativity, empathy, and adaptability. Investing in the development of cognitive flexibility can maximize human potential and equip us to tackle the complex challenges of today and tomorrow. In today’s fast-paced world, the ability to adapt to change is more important than ever. Cognitive flexibility is a key skill that can help individuals to navigate the uncertainties of (professional) life with ease and grace. 

Curious how to include this skill in your talent management systems like hiring, L&D, and strategic workforce planning? Book a meeting with our brain-expert Ivar Schot!

Geplaatst: 8 Mar, 2023

Messi & Marta – Do women football stars solve match situations differently?

BrainsFirst launches Global Women Football Brain Index-project

Today, BrainsFirst announced the launch of the Global Women’s Football Brain Index-project, ahead of FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023. The project is aimed at evaluating the cognitive abilities of female elite football players across the world and providing insights into the role of the brain in identifying and nurturing female football brains. “We expect to see a lot of similarities compared to our existing Football Brain Index. However, in elite sports it’s frequently the small differences that matter,” reports BrainsFirst founder Eric Castien.

Following the success of the Men’s Global Football Brain Index introduced in 2019, BrainsFirst decided to extend its longitudinal research to female football players. The project uses the latest neuroscience and AI technologies to assess cognitive abilities such as decision-making, attention, and spatial awareness.

The Global Women’s Football Brain Index will provide valuable insights into the cognitive abilities of female football players and how they relate to performance on the field. The project will also offer comparative data on male and female football players’ cognitive abilities, allowing for a better understanding of gender differences in football.

“The launch of the Global Women’s Football Brain Index is an important milestone for BrainsFirst,” says Castien. “Traditional methods of evaluating football talent systematically underestimate the performance of female players, because of their over dependence on physical development. We‘ve seen that cognitive abilities play a crucial role in elite football performance. Even in male football hidden talents are overlooked in the youth because of physical 

underperformance and this gets worse with female players. But those tinier youngsters probably have much more powerful football brains. Both Messi and his female peer Marta are one of the smallest and smartest players on the field. We help clubs and associations to evaluate talents more fairly by taking a look under the hood. Today we introduce this inclusive way of talent assessment into women’s football, too.”

BrainsFirst started their research in global elite football in 2013. Neuroscientists Ilja Sligte and Andries van der Leij accomplished their mission to link brain functions to field performance thanks to participation of clubs like AZ Alkmaar, PSV Eindhoven, Feyenoord from Eredivisie, clubs in Premier League, Bundesliga, Jupiler League and Primera Division, and both the Dutch and Belgian FA. Today over 50 elite clubs use BrainsFirst in their talent identification process.

The first version of the Global Women Football Brain Index will be launched during the FIFA Women’s  World Cup, which takes place from 20 July to 20 August 2023 in Australia and New Zealand. The project will involve the participation of elite football clubs and federal associations to assess female football players from across the world, providing a comprehensive view of the cognitive abilities of female football players.

Business Development Director Jens Urlbauer adds: “Identifying and developing talent is key to the success of any football club, and this is especially true for women’s football. As the sport continues to grow and gain more recognition, it is important that we invest in talent identification programs to ensure that we are not missing out on talented female players who could become the stars of tomorrow.”

For more information on the Global Women Football Brain Index, visit the BrainsFirst website or contact the BrainsFirst press office.

Eric Castien – Founder 

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Geplaatst: 15 Feb, 2023

Press Release: “Why do we keep cramming the square into the round hole?”

Zero Talent Waste goals offers structural labor market solution

Almost 6 out of 10 vacancies are not filled or are only filled with difficulty. That is what the UWV concludes from a survey among more than 4,500 employers. Never before has the labor market been so stuck. The old solutions? Extend the vacancy, play with the terms of employment or launch a fun recruitment site. A patchwork that does not extend beyond the surface. Can we do better? Yes. BrainsFirst successfully introduced a new talent measurement tool that looks under the hood to find deep skills. The ability to find atypical talent increased significantly. And that’s only the beginning. “We’re going for Zero Talent Waste.”

In 2018, brain scientist Dr. Ilja Sligte noticed that the selection criteria that Air Traffic Control Netherlands (LVNL) had set up did not lead to the desired number of suitable new recruits per year. On behalf of the scaleup BrainsFirst, which he co-founded, Sligte proposed looking for talent differently. 

It was time to find ways to break through this talent jam. “Together with LVNL, we are now primarily looking at deeper lying issues skills, at brain level. That produces surprising matches that are independent of CV, education, grade list or interests.”

This deep skills method is about recognizing very concrete, underlying skills that serve as the basis for acquiring knowledge and skills. Every brain is completely unique. “If you are naturally good at recognizing patterns and can work both quickly and accurately, you will acquire certain skills that come with a profession such as financial controller, first aid doctor or software tester. We map brains and match them with jobs,” says BrainsFirst founder Eric Castien. “Talent is largely invisible and hard to catch. Normally we only see the tip of the iceberg, but if we start to look under water as it were, we suddenly see hidden matches.”

From Messi to maintenance engineer
Six years of scientific research into the link between brain and job brought Castien and his brain partners Ilja Sligte and Andries van der Leij along various talent incubators. From the KNVB Campus in Zeist via office staff at the Municipality of Rotterdam, option traders at IMC, lawyers at the Zuidas, programmers in the Utrecht region and doctors-in-training at Amsterdam UMC. 

Neuroscientist Sligte: “Any role or job demands something specific from the brain. If you look at supply and demand on the labor market, then the jars fit and lids less and less. With congestion in almost every sector as a result. Why? Employers try cramming squares into round holes with all their might. We are able to look at deep skills and in this way accelerate the stalled talent matching. Whether it’s top football, engineering, finance, healthcare or IT: look primarily for the match between brain potential and job profile.”

Mission #zerotalentwaste: EU framework as a cross-border basis
Labor market experts have recently referred to the ‘skills-based approach’ as a panacea for the labor market frictions. Sligte: “This refinement of profession or function into a cluster of skills is a good one step. Where it still pinches is how do you manage to remove subjectivity and bias from all those words? Agility, learning ability, attention, problem-solving ability: how do you quantify them and make every talent count, literally?  By measuring brain functions and expressing them in numbers, we succeed much better than traditional methods. This provides a robust, sustainable basis for subsequent matching. Because our work is based on the European framework for Skills, Competencies and Occupations (ESCO) we have linked to brain types. That means it is finally possible for employers to go underwater and recognize what they are now looking for above water. This way you prevent the structural wasting of talent. I expect that hundreds of thousands of talents will be matched in this way in the coming years. ”

Geplaatst: 19 Jan, 2023

Attention Please!

Do I have your attention? Great! Then let me tell you something about attention and how measuring it can provide insights into someone’s performance at work. Nowadays our attention is often tested to its limits as we are continuously bombarded with massive amounts of information. Finding the right information sometimes seems like finding a needle in a haystack. However, we “humans” are very good at discerning the relevant from the irrelevant and are able to complete tasks that at first sight seem impossible just by paying attention. But what is attention anyway?

What is attention?
You can think of attention as a spotlight. A spotlight that only shines its light on the things that you are focusing on at that moment. But attention is not just about anchoring your focus on one particular thing, it is also involved in suppressing competing information and affects our perception of all stimuli surrounding us. While you are reading this, there are numerous sights, sounds, and sensations going on around you. The pressure of your feet against the floor, the sight of the street from a nearby window, the soft warmth of your shirt, the memory of a conversation you had earlier with a friend. All these factors compete for our attention but only the most relevant parts reach our awareness.

The multitasking myth
Attention is limited. Still we like to convince ourselves (and others) that we are multitasking heroes. That we can drive, text and fix our makeup while looking in the rearview mirror all at the same time. Previous research has shown that multitasking doesn’t really exist and is just a rapid attention switching technique. Some people will be better at this than others but multitasking always results in lower efficiency at higher energy costs. Since attention is a limited resource, we have to be selective about what we decide to focus on and what to ignore.

How Attentional performance contributes at the workplace
So what does your attention performance tell about how you function in a work setting? Attention is an important building block for abilities like decision making, operational speed, accuracy, perseverance and self-reflection. People that score high on attentional tasks are more likely to act fast and precise in situations where a lot of information is available, are able to maintain constant production levels for long periods of time and are relatively good at estimating which behavior is appropriate in any given situation. When someone scores low on attention this could result in up to 20% lower productivity on the job. For this attention can be seen as an important factor when determining if someone is suitable for a particular job.

Jobs that require a high level of attention
Especially work environments with a lot of different types of information require someone with a high level of attention. Attention is needed to make sure that all information is noted and processed properly. For example, in case of an air traffic controller, it’s essential to possess an exceptional level of attentional skills taking flight routes, different airplanes and multiple runways into consideration at the same time. The smallest error could result in dramatic consequences. Besides air traffic controllers, police officers should also possess good attentional skills. The smallest details in a case could be essential in finding a perpetrator, indicating signs of domestic violence or determining if someone is dangerous or not. These are both very important jobs that depend on superior attentional skills which could make the difference between life and death.

“You know my methods, Watson”
Sherlock Holmes is a fictional detective from the stories of the late 19th-century and early 20th-century, created by the writer and physician Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Sherlock Holmes’ character has become one of the most famous characters in the world. Holmes is best known for his intelligence and his ability to deduce important conclusions from small, often seemingly unimportant clues. Because of his extraordinary detective skills we assume that, although Holmes is a fictional character, his level of attentional skills should have been extremely good, taking into consideration that he was able to pay attention to every clue no matter how small or meaningless it seemed to others.