How to hire engaged employees

Study finds six traits that make an employee 14 times more likely to be engaged

Interviewers often focus on experience and skills while overlooking a candidate’s motivation and potential to be an engaged employee. Not surprisingly then, nearly one half of managers surveyed in 2004 said that a candidate's personality in the interview and on the job were completely different.

A combination of six characteristics, easily measured in pre-employment tests, can actually predict which candidates will be more engaged on the job, a new study by Development Dimensions International (DDI) found.

“Measuring and selecting an engaged candidate is like hiring the caterpillar who turns into a butterfly — not the moth who eats away the fabric of your organization,” said Jocelyn Berard, managing director of DDI Canada.

The study of 3,800 employees in a range of industries and roles found candidates with a mix of adaptability, passion for work, emotional maturity, positive disposition, self-efficacy and achievement orientation are 14 times more likely to be highly engaged employees than those who don’t have these traits.

Disengaged employees take less initiative and contribute less to the organization than engaged employees. Their reduced commitment to the job leads to faster turnover and thus increased hiring costs for the company and a reduction in productivity.

Engagement is a critical quality in all industries and job roles. Engagement also increases sales performance, teamwork and customer service quality.

But finding an engaged employee is only the first step. Once hired, the boss has a lot to do with maintaining and increasing an employee’s level of engagement. DDI’s study found that employees with engaged supervisors were more engaged and nearly 20 per cent less likely to leave the organization within a year.

“Leader engagement has a cascading effect on employee engagement,” said Berard. “This demonstrates the important role the boss plays in an individual’s level of engagement and their happiness in the organization.”

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