Employee engagement is a top priority for many business leaders—and rightfully so. Past Aon research has determined that a five percent increase in employee engagement is linked to a three percent lift in business revenue the following year. However, most organisations focus on managing engagement among existing employees and completely overlook opportunities to rapidly accelerate employee engagement by hiring people that are most likely to bring their best to their work.
The truth is, an individual’s inclination towards engagement is also dependent on his or her personality traits. An employee who is ‘wired for engagement’ is likely to stay engaged—even during challenging times. On the other hand, an employee who needs a lot more internal drive and motivation will find it hard to stay enthusiastic in the best of circumstances.
If an organisation is able to assess and hire candidates who are ‘wired for engagement’, the chances of them staying engaged throughout their tenure will be much higher. This translates into a better bottom line.
What does an engaged employee look like?
Based on Aon’s model of employee engagement, an engaged employee is likely to:
Say good things about the company
Stay at the company
Strive to do their best
What makes someone ‘wired for engagement’?
There are three traits that can predict if an individual is predisposed to be engaged.
Individuals with an optimistic outlook on life are more likely to be resilient and see the positives in a situation, which makes them more open to engagement, say good things about the company and see a positive future with the company.
Cooperative individuals believe in teamwork and will make extra effort to get along—even when the going gets tough. This creates greater opportunities for engagement and fosters trust.
Driven individuals are intrinsically motivated to be engaged in their work—simply because they always want to do their best.
How can you combine hiring and engagement in a meaningful way?
Every employee has a different mix of positivity, cooperativeness and drive. This difference contributes to diversity in the workplace. Hiring for engagement is not—and should not be—a simplistic practice of selecting candidates who score the highest levels for the three traits. Someone with low positivity, average cooperativeness and high drive can be just as engaged as a different individual with high positivity, low cooperativeness and average drive. Instead of compromising on diversity, organisations should assess candidates with the aim of managing the risks of the “unengageable”, those who score low on all three traits of positivity, cooperativeness and drive.
Secondly, organisations must not overlook the role of context in engagement. For instance, technically challenging roles may require employees to be more intrinsically driven while certain executive-level positions are better filled by individuals who are highly cooperative.
Lastly, engagement is an ongoing process. Apart from identifying candidates who are likely to be engaged, HR practitioners can also use these assessments after hiring to advance employees who are likely to be engaged and weed out those who cannot be engaged.
Being able to assess a candidate for their potential to be engaged is powerful, but it does not invalidate ongoing best practices to manage employee engagement. Instead, organisations must break down HR silos to adopt a holistic approach of hiring candidates for engagement—and continue to actively engage them throughout the course of employment.
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