“Many view growing employee engagement as management’s job, but it also resides in an employee. Assessing ‘Will Do’ qualities in candidates helps hire those more likely to engage,” says Dr. Leaetta Hough, Chief Science Officer with HirePayoff™
February 5, 2013 – Current thinking says growing employee engagement is critical to an organization’s success. Typically defined as showing commitment to the job, putting forth extra effort, and focusing on targets critical to the organization, evidence shows the level of employee engagement has many financially-related consequences – reduced absenteeism, lower turnover rates, higher productivity, higher sales performance, better customer service, etc.
“For example, a client with hundreds of locations across the U.S. recently surveyed employee engagement levels,” says Dr. Hough. “It was no surprise when locations with the lowest levels of employee engagement showed the highest level of ‘walk away’ resignations. Locations with the highest engagement showed forty percent lower turnover rates. With thousands of employees, these differences have major consequences on operating costs. This is why companies today spend major amounts of money undertaking employee engagement surveys, indexing employee engagement, and working to increase it through a range of management-led initiatives,” Dr. Hough adds.
Today, though, building employee engagement is viewed primarily as management’s job. The assumption – improving management practices will increase employee engagement. For example, improving supervisors’ treatment of subordinates, creating a fair, safe, and trusting climate, promoting involvement in goal setting, improving internal communications, providing competitive salaries and benefits, and communicating a compelling vision for the company are staples in the performance management tool box that companies use to grow employeeengagement. “All these methods emphasize the responsibility of management to generate employee engagement. And if engagement doesn’t increase, the view often is that management bears the blame,” says Dr. Hough.
“This is where we disagree,” says Dr. Hough. “We know management-led actions play a role in growing employee engagement, but our research shows a major part of employee engagement resides within the employee. It’s a very simple fact – an organization’s level of employee engagement results from both whom it hires and, then, how it treats them,” concludes Dr. Hough.
“Since part of employee engagement comes with the employee, an organization can incorporate recruitment and selection tools into its hiring process that predict employee engagement,” says Dr. Hough. For example, in a thorough review of the research literature, Hough and Johnson (2012) identified three primary ‘Will Do’ competencies that relate to an individual’s inclination to become engaged – being conscientious and delivering on commitments, possessing a strong desire to achieve and be successful, and getting along with others. “Besides these competencies, the degree of person-to-environment ‘fit’ – the employee’s interest and passion for the type of work offered by the employer – plays a key role in ensuring employee engagement,” Hough adds.
“Using all our research, these qualities are what we framed our HirePayoff™ employment testing tool to measure – ‘Can Do Will Do’ competencies – among them, Dependable Commitment, Drive to Succeed, Team Play, and Interest Fit between the individual and the workplace,” says Dr. Hough.
“We know the competencies we refer to as a candidate’s ‘Will Do,’ are key in driving employee engagement… and any employer can measure these competencies during the employment testing process,” says Dr. Hough. “The result – improve the organization’s overall level of employee engagement by 1) hiring for ‘Will Do’ competencies as new employees are added to the workforce, and then, 2) capitalizing on internal programs to multiply the effects in the overall workforce – a ‘one plus one equals three’ strategy,” Dr. Hough adds.
There is a tremendous amount of data showing that screening for these competencies improves payoff on a wide range of other outcomes – higher quality work, higher individual and team performance, better work relationships, better customer service, better sales performance, greater initiative taking, fewer accidents, reduced absenteeism, lower turnover rates, etc. “A big part of the reason is that screening on these competencies has one major result – finding new hires who are more likely to bring, grow, and expand employee engagement once on the job,” says Dr. Hough.
According to Dr. Hough, “Just as a company’s employment engagement initiatives are important, so too is hiring for the ‘Will Do’ competencies that magnify these initiatives. It’s really clear – employee engagement is a two-way street, and in most cases, how it plays out depends as much on who gets hired as how they’re treated.”
HirePayoff™ is just wrapping up a client study where employees’ ‘Will Do’ competencies were used to predict their level of employee engagement, as reported by both the employees themselves and those who supervise their work. More on this later…
Leaetta Hough, PhD, is one of the world’s leaders in developing innovative employment testing systems. Her work has helped shape the science and practice of Industrial-Organizational Psychology. She is past president of both the Society for
Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP) and the Federation of Associations in Behavioral and Brain Sciences (FABBS), a coalition of 22 scientific societies. She is co-editor of the Handbook of Industrial & Organizational Psychology, and
author of three articles identified as seminal publications in the last 100 years. She is regarded as one of the world’s experts in personality testing in the workplace.
Today, Dr. Hough is Chief Science Officer with HirePayoff™, developing new hiring processes that include employee screening measures of ‘Can Do,’ ‘Will Do,’ ‘Able To,’ and ‘Done That’ competencies that yield reliable, valid, and fair predictions of job performance with less adverse impact and other bottom-line outcomes, such as higher job performance, sales performance, and customer satisfaction as well as lower absenteeism and turnover rates. All HirePayoff™ online selection tools are supported by sound test validation and uniquely driven by Six Sigma continuous improvement. For more information, visit www.hirepayoff.com.
For more detail about the research and conclusions associated with engagement, effective performance, and ‘Will Do’ measurement, see Hough & Johnson (2012) “Use and Importance of Personality Variables in Work Settings” in the Handbook of Psychology, published by Wiley.
Dr. David Jones
President & CEO