Finding The Right Candidate Reduces An Employer’s Cost Of ‘Growing Employee Engagement’

Posted in Hirepayoff News

“Why would an employer not focus as much on ‘finding’ as on ‘growing’ employee engagement?” asks Dr. David Jones.

October 25, 2013 – Recently, Dr. David Jones, author of Million-Dollar Hire: Building Your Bottom Line, One Employee at a Time and founder of HirePayoff™, described how to use employment testing to screen candidates for their likelihood of showing, and growing, employee engagement once hired. (See the HirePayoff™ release Engagement is Predictable!)

In the release, Jones built on research by Dr. Leaetta Hough, Chief Science Officer with HirePayoff™, describing how employment testing can predict whether candidates will become involved with, committed to, and motivated to work with an employer. (See the HirePayoff™ release Employee Engagement – A Two-Way Street)

In Engagement is Predictable! Jones showed how the HirePayoff™ online employment test’s Eager to Engage scale put Dr. Hough’s ideas to the test with a major retail employer. The result: Scores on the Eager to Engage scale predicted not only self-reports of employee engagement, but on-the-job performance, as well.

Recently, Dr. Jones’ discussions about “screening for engagement” with both senior operations leaders and HR management produced interesting insights about how to use the idea of “finding and growing employee engagement” to balance costs and optimize results. The discussions provided more clarity regarding how the concept is received in the employer marketplace, as well.

“Operating leadership views the concept of screening candidates for employee engagement as critical in today’s hiring,” says Jones. “In fact, operations leaders indicate far more interest in screening candidates in these areas, than for the classic skill and ability competencies that frame typical candidate testing programs. Many operating leaders say it’s more “Will Do” engagement than “Can Do” competency in a candidate that shows itself once onboard,” Jones adds.

The same reaction is heard from senior HR leadership – screen first, and then grow engagement. “When one steps down from the Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) level, though, the focus tends to change a bit,” says Jones. “The reason is simple – those who work in the HR department typically are assigned either to recruiting and hiring functions or to organization development work; the latter’s activities typically focused on driving employee engagement initiatives.

“Speak with a recruiter about employee engagement, and they often reply ‘a different department handles that.’ Bring the concept of screening candidates for engagement to the organization development staff, and you hear ‘that’s not our area of responsibility’,” Jones adds.

“Helping employers capitalize on both finding and growing employee engagement needs a bit more focus. The target – reach out to HR leaders responsible for overall HR practices; those who direct different HR units to use different tools in improving the organization’s overall level of employee engagement,” says Jones.

To help HR leaders understand just how much payoff rests in updating candidate screening practices to evaluate candidates’ future level of employee engagement, Jones and the HirePayoff™ team assembled data produced during ongoing design and development of its Eager to Engage screening scale. The question – Just how much can an employer increase its level of employee engagement through the outlooks new hires carry with them to the job?

The answer – The Eager to Engage scale designed to screen candidates was found to improve new hires’ levels of engagement in major ways. For example in a data base assembled from a retailer using the HirePayoff™ tool to screen well over 100,000 candidates per year, data analyses showed the tool’s impact on ‘finding engagement’ when various screening standards were set.



“Bottom line, why wouldn’t an HR or operations leader add the concept of finding engaged employees to the hiring process?” asks Jones. “Too, what if the employers’ turnover is in the 20%+ range; typical of lower-level positions, where engagement is so important and receives so much employer investment? Look at how quickly the organization’s overall workforce engagement could be increased via finding higher levels of engagement. Why spend resources only on growing employee engagement in such a setting?” Jones asks.

Another important concept enters the review – whether an employer’s candidate testing produces exclusionary adverse impact on candidates of a particular ethnicity or gender. Employers face legal challenges when such events occur, and are called on to either show their testing procedures are valid and job-related, or discontinue their use. As a result, the HirePayoff™ Eager to Engage test scale was reviewed to
determine whether, in predicting a candidate’s level of employee engagement, it might also produced an adverse impact.

“This is where a triple-play occurs,” reports Jones. Analysis of voluminous candidate data shows the Eager to Engage scale 1) predicts an individual’s level of employee engagement, 2) predicts the individual’s on-the-job performance, and 3) produces no differences in the scores achieved by candidates of different ethnicity or gender. “Again, why would an employer not put more attention on screening for engagement, rather than focusing almost entirely on growing it,’ asks Jones.

In summary, much research shows employee engagement drives success. Clearly, HR leadership needs to blend the ideas of finding and growing engagement, allocating the right tools to both sides of the HR organization. Once up and running, results can easily be tracked through monitoring annual employee engagement surveys, turnover rate changes, job performance improvements, etc. Then, continuous improvement can take hold… just a common sense way to run a business.

About HirePayoff™

David Jones, PhD, author of Million-Dollar Hire: Building Your Bottom Line, One Employee at a Time, published in April, 2011 by Jossey-Bass, is among the few Business Psychology professionals to found and grow a major international consulting and HR recruitment and selection process outsourcing business. In Million-Dollar Hire he explains how, even in a slow economy, U.S. employers make millions of hiring decisions every month… and in today’s demanding environment, companies no longer have room to get it wrong. Every hire is an investment… every decision carries risk. Done well, every one can pay a return. Using practical, real world illustrations, Jones uses the book to show there are tools that help treat every hiring decision with the same focus a business follows in acquiring other high-value assets.

Founder and CEO of HRStrategies, a firm listed among the fastest growing consulting companies in the U.S. prior to its acquisition by today’s Aon-Hewitt, Jones designed and implemented employment testing programs for a majority of the Fortune 100, as well as startups, expansions, and public sector agencies. Today, Jones is president of Growth Ventures Inc., whose HirePayoff™ division works with employers to tap candidates’ ‘Can Do Will Do’ competencies. Through HirePayoff™, Jones helps companies re-invent their online recruiting and hiring process. The target – find new hires with employee engagement, strong sales performance, solid employee retention, and bottom-line drive. All the HirePayoff™ online recruitment and selection tools are supported by sound test validation and uniquely driven by Six Sigma continuous improvement. For more information, visit

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Dr. David Jones
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