How Could I Not Be a Fan of Employee Engagement?
In a conversation with a CEO of a large organization, he brought up the topic of employee engagement. His approach to employee engagement was to bind employees to the policies and procedures of the organization through their involvement in a variety of work team development and training activities. He said to me, “Doc, I understand that you are not a fan of employee engagement. Is that true?”
“That’s partially true,” I told him. And here’s why. I’m a fan of engaging people who have the ability and motivation to be engaged. A process like employee engagement or virtually any kind of organizational intervention (employee involvement, management by objectives, pushing decision-making to a lower level) may boost productivity and job satisfaction. However, the gains of employee engagement will be minimal when the group that is involved is randomly selected compared to the gains achieved when that group is chosen with a rigorous selection process.
Essentially, I see a problem with perpetrating employee engagement on a randomly selected group or workers. In a randomly selected collection of employees, people aren’t necessarily highly able and genuinely motivated. They may struggle to adapt to the world of work. These workers may not be eager to adopt the policies and procedures of the organization, unless their well-being is impacted.
In a rigorously selected facility operations group, new hires are characterized as being intelligent, numerically and verbally capable, and they have demonstrated abilities in areas such as perceptual speed (the ability to rapidly see changing patterns in data or condition monitoring signals) and the spatial relation of moving or fixed operational objects around them.
When they have these abilities and also have a record of high performance in their past jobs, the stage is set for high performance in their new role. These employees are more likely to respond favorably to employee engagement. They are active learners who obey the rules, anticipate and avoid process hazards or malfunctions, take on more challenging tasks, and get along well with others in the workplace. With rigorously selected hiring, the gains are greater than the minimal seen in random selection.
The bottom line is this: I am a fan of all kinds of organizational development interventions, but only with this qualification. Those interventions need to be perpetrated on a group of highly able and highly motivated people. To perpetrate such a system on a randomly selected group is folly, if the expectation is for higher productivity and higher job satisfaction. If you want impactful employee engagement, focus upstream on a rigorous employee selection process.
The ability to develop and run a rigorous employee selection process is a teachable skill. 15dots provides the means to identify both the ability tests needed to measure abilities that are important in a job family and the skill to identify candidates with the motivation to perform well in a job. Job analysis is the key to identifying the ability tests. 15dots’ expert-led Virtual Structured Board interview training provides the means to assess candidate motivation. Participants leave the interview training with the techniques and confidence to be effective interviewers.
To get the most from your employee engagement investments, ensure that you implement and run a rigorous employee selection process. The results will be transformational. Contact 15dots to learn more.