The role of employee engagement in recruitment

17 March, 2019
Barriers to change

Where to start when you want to hire the best people

The role of employee engagement in recruitment is one that is often overlooked, yet engagement plays a big part in the hiring experience from the perspective of both parties – the candidate and the employer. In the process of selection and interviewing, the candidate is selling himself or herself to you – and you are selling your organisation to the candidate. The leading recruitment search engine Jooble states on its website that:

“Labour is one of the leading components of human life, it is a matter of self-actualisation, the pursuit of a complete identification and development of personal abilities, which are indispensable conditions for happiness. We believe that there is a suitable job for each individual that can complement his or her life with meaning and joy to be useful to society.”

When you take on a recruit, you don’t only hire qualifications and experience, you hire a person and their personality – and it is this that could determine how successful your hire is.

In this article, you’ll learn why considering employee engagement in recruitment should be included in your overarching employee engagement and retention strategy.


Why is employee engagement in recruitment so important?

There is much empirical evidence to suggest that employee engagement is key to improving productivity, innovation, customer experiences, quality and safety, as well as reducing absenteeism and staff turnover. In our previous article, we discussed the role of employee engagement in retaining talented employees and how Gallup has found that retaining talented employees longer leads to an 18% boost in performance over the average employee.

The PwC 2015 Employee Engagement Landscape Study shows that organisations with highly engaged employees benefit from 250% higher performance related business outcomes and 33% higher profits. Their employee turnover rates are more than 50% lower than organisations with poor employee engagement strategies.

Given such benefits, it makes business sense to include employee engagement in recruitment processes, by hiring people you can engage being engaging from the first time you speak or meet.


Hire engageable talent, starting with the CV

Engageable talent refers to those people who have the characteristics to be engaged.

Discovery of an employee’s ability to be engaged starts with what their CV says about them and how they may fit in with your organisational culture. A candidate’s self-written appraisal will detail experience and qualifications, but should also tell you something about their personality, the type of work they enjoy doing, and whether they work well in a team. A great career record doesn’t mean a great fit for your team. When reviewing a candidate’s CV, look for:

  • Evidence of their personality, their motivations, and their ambitions
  • Examples of the soft skills needed to work in a collaborative environment
  • A personal statement that links their abilities, experiences, and motivations

If a candidate’s personality, motivations, values and beliefs dovetail with your organisation’s you are on track to hiring the talent you need. The interview process will confirm you have found the ideal fit.


The role of the interview in employee engagement in recruitment

The interview is the first big opportunity to engage your prospective employee. This is when you can test the cultural fit between you and the candidate and offers the candidate to do the same. The questions you ask, and how you ask them, will tell as much about you and your organisation as the answers tell you about the candidate.

As well as the substance of the conversation you have with the candidate, you’ll be looking for verbal and nonverbal signs of their ability to be engaged, For example:

  • Are they passionate about their craft?
  • What are their motivations?
  • What is their ambition for the future?
  • Are they a self-learner?
  • Are they relaxed and personable, with the traits to be a team player?

Of course, it goes without saying that different positions will require different character traits to be engageable. However, there is a constant that an interviewer can add to in the process to show that your organisation is serious about engagement: showing that you recognise achievements.

We all like recognition. Take the opportunity to praise the candidate on their achievements. It shows that you are listening and that you understand the effort they expended to produce the outcome being discussed. Further, it is evidence that you and your organisation are ‘human’.


How do you know who will be engageable?

Obviously, the next step in the recruitment process is to decide who you want to recruit. As we’ve discussed in this article, the best person for the position depends upon the correct mix of experience, skills, and the ability to be engaged.

Experience and skills can be tested and referenced. If you need a bookkeeper with experience of using Sage accounting software in a retail environment, for example, this is easy to establish.

The ability to be engaged in your organisation (and the specific environment in which the employee will work) is not so easy to determine and describe. However, by looking at your current team and the best people in it, and then understanding the character traits that make them your best, you can develop an ideal ‘candidate persona’.

For example, if your best salespeople are motivated by the challenges of cold calling and developing new client relationships, sharing their knowledge with others, and working closely with marketing and product teams, then you should seek out candidates with the same personalities.


Employee engagement in recruitment in five steps

The process of finding candidates who mirror your best talent begins before you even consider the need to fill a position:

  1. Begin by modelling your ideal candidate persona on your best talent
  2. Write clear and concise job adverts that invite your ideal candidates to apply (For example, “A salesperson who thrives on the cold call and enjoys the challenge of working in a close-knit sales and marketing team that works hand in hand with product development”)
  3. Review CVs for evidence of the character traits that mirror your best talent
  4. Delve deep in the interview, with questions designed and worded to extract evidence of the experience and character desired
  5. Treat every day as a new opportunity to engage your employees

Step five is perhaps the most difficult part of the consideration of employee engagement in recruitment, but it is essential in the drive to retain your most talented employees. If your organisation suffers from higher than industry average employee turnover, it could be that your employee engagement strategy is not working as it should: before, during, and beyond the act of recruitment.

In our next article, we will look at the key to excel in employee engagement.

In the meantime, to discover how our Learning Map could help you to improve your employee engagement strategy, get in touch with The Big Picture People today.

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